Jeanne Eagels plays the bored and restless Leslie Crosbie who turns to another man, Geoffrey Hammond (Herbert Marshall) for attention when neglected by her husband Robert (Reginald Owen). ...
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Jeanne Eagels plays the bored and restless Leslie Crosbie who turns to another man, Geoffrey Hammond (Herbert Marshall) for attention when neglected by her husband Robert (Reginald Owen). Robert decides to go out for the evening to pick up a new rifle. Leslie's calm vanishes as she awaits an answer to a letter she has written Hammond. He has found a new love - a beautiful unscrupulous native woman Li Ti (Lady Tsei Mei) and has discarded Leslie. Written by
The poem that Geoff Hammond is reading aloud to Li Ti at the opening of his first scene is Oscar Wilde's The Ballad of Reading Gaol. See more »
Ong Chi Seng:
It has been brought to my attention, sir, that there is a letter in existence from Mrs. Crosby to Mr. Hammond.
Well, dozens of them, probably. Hammond has been a friend of theirs for years.
Ong Chi Seng:
But, this letter, sir, was written the night of Mr. Hammond's death. It is quite unusual in tone.
Where is this letter?
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"The Letter" is an absolutely fascinating early talkie. The only surviving talkie made by the legendary stage actress, Jeanne Eagels (whose skill as a Broadway stage actress was obvious in the delivery of her lines - particularly the final scene, which I found mesmerizing) cries out for a restoration! The print of the film I viewed had a very poor visual quality (although I could always discern the action), but became all the more tantalizing - this film probably looked great in 1929, and would still look wonderful in a refurbished print. For a very early "talkie", I was very surprised at how natural and "unstodgy" the dialogue is (and the soundtrack was remarkably clear and strong, with even a little bit of profanity, which I'm sure it raised a few eyebrows in 1929!) It is very unfortunate that Eagels' other talkie "Jealousy" is now lost, and all the more reason that "The Letter" (being the only sound document of this legendary actress) should have a wider distribution. I hope someone some day will spearhead such an undertaking.
A 2011 update: I recently acquired the DVD release of "The Letter" from Warner Archives. It is a revelation - an amazingly good print, particularly considering it is mastered from what is apparently the sole surviving 35mm print. Some segments lack musical background, but the dialogue is intact, and the visuals are far better than I expected (or hoped for!). Congratulations and many thanks to Warner Archives for finally making this treasure available!
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