7.7/10
8,473
98 user 47 critic

The Letter (1940)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 23 November 1940 (USA)
Trailer
2:18 | Trailer
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.

Director:

Writers:

(by), (screen play)
Reviews
Popularity
3,963 ( 11,788)
Nominated for 7 Oscars. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

The ruthless, moneyed Hubbard clan lives in, and poisons, their part of the deep South at the turn of the 20th century.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, Teresa Wright
Jezebel (1938)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A haughty headstrong Southern Belle in Antebellum Louisiana loses her fiance due to her stubborn vanity and pride and vows to get him back.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, George Brent
Now, Voyager (1942)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A Boston spinster blossoms under therapy and finds an impossible romance.

Director: Irving Rapper
Stars: Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Popular and beautiful Fanny Trellis is forced into a loveless marriage with an older man, Jewish banker Job Skeffington, in order to save her beloved brother Trippy from an embezzlement charge, and predictable complications result.

Director: Vincent Sherman
Stars: Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Walter Abel
Dark Victory (1939)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A young socialite is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour, and must decide whether she'll meet her final days with dignity.

Director: Edmund Goulding
Stars: Bette Davis, George Brent, Humphrey Bogart
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

When lovely and virtuous governess Henriette Deluzy comes to educate the children of the debonair Duc de Praslin, a royal subject to King Louis-Philippe and the husband of the volatile and ... See full summary »

Director: Anatole Litvak
Stars: Bette Davis, Charles Boyer, Jeffrey Lynn
The Great Lie (1941)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

After a newlywed's husband apparently dies in a plane crash, she discovers that her rival for his affections is now pregnant with his child.

Director: Edmund Goulding
Stars: Bette Davis, George Brent, Mary Astor
The Old Maid (1939)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

The arrival of an ex-lover on a young woman's wedding day sets in motion a chain of events which will alter her and her cousin's lives forever.

Director: Edmund Goulding
Stars: Bette Davis, Miriam Hopkins, George Brent
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Old friends Kit Marlowe and Millie Drake adopt contrasting lifestyles: Kit is a single, critically acclaimed author while married Millie writes popular pulp novels.

Director: Vincent Sherman
Stars: Bette Davis, Miriam Hopkins, Gig Young
A Stolen Life (1946)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

When a woman's twin sister is drowned, she assumes her identity in order to be close to the man she feels her sister took from her years before.

Director: Curtis Bernhardt
Stars: Bette Davis, Glenn Ford, Dane Clark
The Heiress (1949)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A young naive woman falls for a handsome young man who her emotionally abusive father suspects is a fortune hunter.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, Ralph Richardson
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

At breakfast, Jane announces that she and Ralph are getting married the next week. All Jane and Ralph want is a small wedding with the immediate family and no reception. This is because ... See full summary »

Director: Richard Brooks
Stars: Bette Davis, Ernest Borgnine, Debbie Reynolds
Edit

Cast

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

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:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

23 November 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La carta  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on April 21, 1941 with Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall and James Stephenson reprising their film roles. See more »

Goofs

When Betty and her lawyer are in Chinatown to collect the letter from the widow, there is a padlock on the door while they are waiting outside the building. Seconds later, a man unlocks the door from the inside. See more »

Quotes

Robert Crosbie: I'll do whatever you think is right.
Howard Joyce: I don't think it's right, but I think it's expedient. Juries can sometimes be very stupid, and it's just as well not to worry them with more evidence than they can conveniently deal with.
See more »

Connections

Version of The Letter (1929) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A price to pay as Fate steps in
1 September 2001 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

I can't help comparing "Witness for the Prosecution (1957)" with this one "The Letter," as they represent a good study in contrast. The former I recall has many bouts of loud dialogue, in particular the courtroom scenes of constant shouting which reach fever pitch at times. Whereas in this "Letter" movie the atmosphere is ever so subtle, very subdued dialogue, and far more impressive because of it. I rather liken it to a warrior noisily clashing by day on the battlefield contrasted by another kind of warfare, that of stealth night fighting in shadows and lit only by moonlight. Both these movies deal with the guilt or innocence of the main character.

Bette Davis gives one of her great portrayals, and Herbert Marshall as the sympathetic husband is well suited to the role, with that wonderful voice of his too, what more could one ask! I don't really know James Stephenson in many roles but here he makes us feel how difficult the situation was for him to deal with -- truly a razor's edge for each and every one of the characters involved. I've seen this movie many times and it just gets better at each viewing, always most intriguing.


24 of 33 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
What about the lace? nomorefog
Cecil Kellaway? davisk957
'Eurasian?' Skrbi
Full Moon BumpyRide
The dagger lsgmusic
James Stephenson Cello1949-2
Discuss The Letter (1940) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?