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The Letter (1940)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  23 November 1940 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 7,561 users  
Reviews: 93 user | 44 critic

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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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--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:

With all my heart I still love the man I killed 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

Previously filmed as an early talkie in 1929 starring Jeanne Eagels, The Letter (1929). Herbert Marshall, who plays the husband in this film, portrayed the lover in that version. 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

Howard Joyce: Strange that a man can live with a woman for ten years and not know the first thing about her.
See more »

Connections

Featured in American Masters: Directed by William Wyler (1986) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Exquisite!!!!
21 May 2007 | by (San Francisco CA USA) – See all my reviews

From the opening sequence where we see Bette emptying her gun on this poor unsuspecting soul, you become riveted watching one of Ms. Davis' all-time flawless performances.

In a nutshell, this tells the story of what happens when first we practice to deceive. Bette claims she was attacked by a friend she has seen only casually until she was forced to "defend" herself against his unwanted advances. Initially, it looks like a slam dunk but when the case is taken to trial, more and more, Bette's lies get the best of her.

Not a sympathetic character for the most part. There is one chilling scene where she, totally exasperated with having to remember so many lies, makes a confession to her husband. It is a fascinating scene for while you recoil at her seemingly selfish attitude, there is this underlying, reluctant admiration you feel for this woman's brutal honesty.

Excellent supporting cast all around, most notably, Herbert Marshall as the poor unsuspecting (it appears many men fall under this category when dealing with the Divine Ms. Davis!)husband whose main goal is to support his wife. Now whether she deserves this loyalty is another ugly story.

Excellent mystery with certainly enough twists and turns to keep you totally engrossed in a very good story.

*Just watched it again last night (10/8/2006) - I'm tellin' ya guys - after 900 viewings, the movie still rocks!!!!


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