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Olivia de Havilland,
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
Director Wyler and star Davis had had an affair which ended well before this, their third project together. (He was married to Margaret "Talli" Tallichet two years before shooting.) Davis discovered herself pregnant during the first week of filming and, unsure of the father, kept it a secret and arranged for an abortion, her third, a week later. She later told friends, "I should have married Willy." See more »
The motor vehicles throughout are all left-hand drive. In Singapore traffic drives on the left and all vehicles there are right-hand drive. See more »
Be flippant about your own crimes if you want to, but don't be flippant about mine!
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the allegories here are effective and striking. Bette Davis is at her best, married in a passionless marriage, involved with a Malaysian. I do not think her character was simply "evil". There are many gray areas to the film. This theme goes along with the story, in keeping with a passionate affair, and subsequent murder.
Vicor Sen Yong and Gale Sondergaard hold the key to the mystery. "The Letter" must be retrieved. When Davis' husband, James Stephenson finds out about the affair, he is at first hopeful they can still move on, buy a large plantation in Sumatra.
The atmosphere is moody and classic. Mystery in the Chinese quarter; Chung Hi has something to sell everyone. At one point Davis picks up a set of elaborately carved ivory knives. Describing her love affair, Davis mentions, ..."even my agony was a kind of joy"... .
This film is proof that creativity and artistry can be submitted on film without obvious and blatant performances.I miss the subtlety and passion conveyed in these noir films.
Yes this is melodrama, in the best sense of the word. Would we ever see something this mood-inspired and effective today?. I highly doubt it. It is very telling that this type of film would be very hard to create today- and I cannot think of one actress who could ever convey the meaning and mood as Ms. Bette Davis. Perhaps that is modern society's loss. 10/10.
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