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A Letter to Three Wives (1949)

Unrated | | Drama, Romance | February 1949 (USA)
A letter is addressed to three wives from their "best friend" Addie Ross, announcing that she is running away with one of their husbands: but she does not say which one.

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(adaptation), (Cosmopolitan Magazine novel) | 1 more credit »
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Won 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

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Connie Gilchrist ...
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Storyline

Lora May Hollingsway, who grew up next to the wrong side of the tracks, married her boss who thinks she is just a gold digger. Rita Phipps makes as much money writing radio scripts at night as her school teacher husband does. Deborah Bishop looked great in a Navy uniform in WWII but fears she'll never be dressed just right for the Country Club set. These three wives are boarding a boat filled with children going on a picnic when a messenger on a bicycle hands them a letter addressed to all three from Addie who has just left town with one of their husbands. They won't know which one until that night. Written by Dale O'Connor <daleoc@interaccess.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

All of them wondered while one of them wandered! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

February 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Letter to Five Wives  »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Kirk Douglas character was based on Joseph L. Mankiewicz's own father. See more »

Goofs

Positions of George and Deborah when talking at the car at the beginning of the film. See more »

Quotes

Sadie: The cap's out. Makes me look like a lamb chop with pants on.
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Connections

Referenced in The Dick Van Dyke Show: Three Letters from One Wife (1964) See more »

Soundtracks

Chi mi frena in tal momento?
(uncredited)
aka "Sextet"
From "Lucia di Lammermoor"
Music by Gaetano Donizetti
Played on the phonograph at Porter's house
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User Reviews

 
another winner from Joseph Mankiewicz
27 April 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

One of Hollywood's best directors, Joseph Mankiewicz, who gave us "All About Eve," had a previous winner with "A Letter to Three Wives," starring Linda Darnell, Jeanne Crain, Ann Sothern, Kirk Douglas, Paul Douglas, Jeffrey Lynn, Thelma Ritter, and Connie Gilchrist.

The never-seen Addie Ross (voice of Celeste Holm) has run off with the husband of one of her friends - whose? Three women look back over their marriages, each realizing she could be the one who will not come home to anyone that evening.

Linda Darnell was involved with Mankiewicz during the filming of "A Letter to Three Wives" in what would be a devastating relationship for her. Her story is the most fun and interesting of the film. Lolamae works in one of Porter Hollingsway's department stores, and she manages to nab the boss by playing her cards just right. He assumes throughout their marriage that she's with him because of his money. The funniest parts of the film take place in the home Lolamae shares with her mother (Connie Gilchrist) and sister. They live next to the train tracks and when a train goes by, the house rattles and shakes. Each time this happens, everyone just waits patiently for the train to go by as they rattle right along with it and then takes up where they left off as if nothing happened. When Lolamae and Hollingsway announce their engagement, Gilchrist cries out, "Bingo!" and faints! Thelma Ritter plays Gilchrist's best friend. The two provide some of the best moments in the film - Ritter is also the maid in the home of Ann Sothern and Kirk Douglas. Lolamae and Paul are the most fully drawn couple, and the one the audience is most invested in.

As with "All About Eve," the female characters are the focal point. Sothern is married to Kirk Douglas - he's a schoolteacher and she writes for radio, so it's intellect vs. the dumbing down of America fight; Jeanne Crain plays a woman who married upper class Jeffrey Lynn after leaving the service, and she originally feels out of her element among his tight-knit group of country club members. All of these women have to contend with the much admired (by males) Addie Ross, who remembers their men's birthdays, dresses beautifully, sends wonderful gifts, and has loads of class.

When it was pointed out to Mankiewicz that Jeanne Crain had played a character named Deborah in two films for him, he replied, "I don't like the name Deborah, and I don't like Jeanne Crain." Hers is the weakest storyline, but she is beautiful and gives a good performance. Lynn as her husband has very little to do. Sothern and Douglas make a spirited couple - he's at the height of his good looks, and Sothern makes the most of her witty dialogue.

But in the end, the focus is on Darnell and Paul Douglas. Darnell is stunningly beautiful and, because of this, isn't often thought of as a great actress. She brings a dry humor, sexiness, and vulnerability to the role of a woman who on the surface appears clever and a little too street smart for her own good. Douglas is a wonder, a complete natural

  • he plays his role as if Porter could just as easily be a hardware


salesman as a filthy rich department store owner. He's both endearing and sympathetic, with his dumb, lovable face and his immaculately tailored suits. While they don't look like a perfect couple, their chemistry and what's underneath their bantering dialogue makes them one.

Now, which husband ran off with Addie? See if you can figure it out during this highly entertaining and well-acted film.


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