A writer meets a young socialite on board a train. The two fall in love and are married soon after, but her obsessive love for him threatens to be the undoing of both them and everyone else around them.
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Joseph L. Mankiewicz
The only son of wealthy widow Violet Venable dies while on vacation with his cousin Catherine. What the girl saw was so horrible that she went insane; now Mrs. Venable wants Catherine lobotomized to cover up the truth.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Though based on a relatively simple idea, "A Letter to Three Wives" is an interesting and well-written story. The cast and the rest of the production are good as well, but it is primarily the carefully written story that makes it work. Joseph Mankiewicz's screenplay does not necessarily have flashy dialogue or lots of surprises, but rather creates well-defined and believable characters, and puts them into an unusual situation, which he then develops at a good pace.
The opening sequences pull you right into the story, introducing the characters efficiently and then setting up the predicament in which the three wives find themselves as a result of the letter from their absent friend. None of the characters are especially interesting as individuals, but all are believable, and you certainly care about what will happen to them. The cast make their characters work together quite well, and there are quite a few good moments. The unseen Addie Ross is also as much a part of the story as any of the others, and her narration is used effectively.
The story moves along smoothly, almost logically, as things are resolved in an unspectacular but satisfying fashion. It's the kind of well-crafted feature that may not dazzle many of today's viewers, but that makes good use of every opportunity.
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