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The Letter (1940)

7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 6,797 users  
Reviews: 92 user | 44 critic

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

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Title: The Letter (1940)

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

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Herbert Marshall ...
James Stephenson ...
Frieda Inescort ...
...
Bruce Lester ...
Elizabeth Inglis ...
Adele Ainsworth (as Elizabeth Earl)
...
Prescott
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:

Fascinating Tantalizing and DANGEROUS! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

23 November 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La carta  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In filming the opening murder scene, actor David Newell had to roll down the stairs eight times after being shot, before director William Wyler was satisfied with the scene. See more »

Goofs

When Betty and her lawyer get in the car to go to Chinatown to get the letter, Betty enters the car first from the left side, the lawyer second. When they get to Chinatown, Betty gets out of the left side of the car first, followed by the lawyer. See more »

Quotes

Leslie: With all my heart, I still love the man I killed.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Here's Looking at You, Warner Bros. (1991) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Awesome Performance of Bette Davis
14 October 2005 | by (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – See all my reviews

In Singapore, Leslie Crosbie (Bette Davis), the wife of the administrator of a plantation field of a rubber company, shoots six times in Geoffrey Hammond.and pleads self-defense to her husband Robert Crosbie (Herbert Marshall) and her lawyer and friend of the family Howard Joyce (James Stephenson). The case seems to be easy and simple, but a letter written by Leslie to Geoffrey and in the hand of the Hammond's widow may sentence Leslie to death by hanging. When the widow decides to sell the letter for US$ 10,000.00, Howard faces a dilemma between his friendship and his career.

"The Letter" is a great film-noir, nominated for seven Oscars, and with awesome performance of Bette Davis in the role of an evil and cold-blooded woman. The story and the characters are very well developed in an increasing tension. The direction of William Wyler is precise as usual, and uses long and low paced shootings along the scenario, giving a perfect view to the viewers. The use of shadows in the black& white cinematography is also amazing. I am not sure about the meaning of the full moon, but maybe it discloses the real feelings of Leslie, covered by the "clouds" most of the time while living with Robert. Anyway, the full moon has an important symbolic meaning in the film. James Stephenson, in the role of a honest lawyer living a dilemma between saving the life of his client and friend, or staining his career, and Herbert Marshall, performing a naive cuckold in love with his unfaithful wife, have also magnificent performances. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): "A Carta" ("The Letter")


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