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The wife of a rubber plantation administrator shoots a man to death and claims it was self-defense, but a letter in her own hand may prove her undoing.

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Nominated for 7 Oscars. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Frieda Inescort ...
...
Bruce Lester ...
Elizabeth Inglis ...
Adele Ainsworth (as Elizabeth Earl)
...
Prescott--Well Wisher at Party
Victor Sen Yung ...
Ong Chi Seng (as Sen Yung)
Doris Lloyd ...
Mrs. Cooper
Willie Fung ...
Chung Hi
Tetsu Komai ...
Head Boy
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Storyline

The wife of a rubber plantation administrator shoots a man to death and claims it was self-defense. Her poise, graciousness and stoicism impress nearly everyone who meets her. Her husband is certainly without doubt; so is the district officer; while her lawyer's doubts may be a natural skepticism. But this is Singapore and the resentful natives will have no compunction about undermining this accused murderess. A letter in her hand turns up and may prove her undoing. Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

I wish I could say I was sorry. See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

23 November 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La carta  »

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sixteen years after he directed this film, William Wyler made his TV directing debut with a live production broadcast Oct. 15, 1956 on Producers' Showcase: The Letter (1956). The cast included Siobhan McKenna, John Mills, Michael Rennie, and Anna May Wong in the roles earlier played by Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, James Stephenson, and Gale Sondergaard. Some of the censorship that had restricted the 1940 version was eased for this TV version. For example, Hammond's "Eurasian wife" in 1940 was permitted to be, as in the play and 1929 film, his Chinese mistress. See more »

Goofs

When Leslie enters her bedroom for the last time, she locks the door behind her. Later, the door is unlocked when Robert enters. See more »

Quotes

Leslie: With all my heart, I still love the man I killed.
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Connections

Featured in Bette Davis: A Basically Benevolent Volcano (1983) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Chalk up another winner for the great Bette Davis
4 June 2006 | by (Camilla, GA) – See all my reviews

In a career that spanned almost six decades, it would be hard pressed to cite one definitive Davis performance. There are so many, and with the number of Davis fans worldwide, it would be redundant to list them here.

However, Davis's performance as adulterer/"devoted" wife "Leslie Crosbie" has to rank as one of her finest. Davis does more in the short span of ninety-five minutes (the film's running time) than an actor of lesser skill could do in an entire career. Her "Leslie" is delicate, yet demanding, appealing yet repulsive, and submissive yet authoritative. The character dominates every inch of the screen and the actress makes full use of those trademark "eyes" of which Kim Carnes sang.

The supporting cast is equally as brilliant, with Herbert Marshall outstanding as her loving (but dim-witted) husband, James Stephenson, suave and determined, as Davis's lawyer, Victor Sen Yung (later to achieve fame as "Hop Sing" on TV's "Bonanza"), and Gale Sondergaard, magnificent in the speechless yet captivating role of "Mrs. Hammond."

And praise of this film is not complete without mention of its score. Max Steiner contributed one of film's greatest musical accompaniments. So powerful is this work that Laurence Rosenthal adapted themes in his score to the television version, starring the late Lee Remick.


30 of 38 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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