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The Letter (1940) Poster

(1940)

Trivia

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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.
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.
Jack L. Warner originally asked William Wyler to test James Stephenson for the role of the lawyer. Wyler was surprised at how suited Stephenson was for the part and then was astonished when Warner balked at casting him, worrying about the stock player's lack of name recognition. Wyler insisted on keeping him, putting him in the odd position of having to fight to cast an actor that Warner had originally suggested.
Herbert Marshall portrayed author W. Somerset Maugham in the 1946 film The Razor's Edge (1946) .
The 1929 version was Jeanne Eagels last film and her only Oscar nomination.
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.
Merle Oberon and Walter Huston starred in a Lux Radio Theatre version two years before.
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Cecil Kellaway is listed in the credits but can only be glimpsed in a long shot during a party scene. His scenes were drastically cut for the final release print.
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The original Broadway production of "The Letter" by W. Somerset Maugham opened at the Morosco Theater on September 26, 1927 and ran for 104 performances.
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"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.
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"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on March 6, 1944 with Bette Davis and Herbert Marshall reprising their film roles.
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Spoilers 

The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

The ending is different from the original play because the Production Code refused to allow a film let one of its characters be seen to get away with adultery and murder.

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