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A Letter to Three Wives (1949)

 -  Drama | Romance  -  20 January 1949 (USA)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 4,933 users  
Reviews: 66 user | 40 critic

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 doesn't say which one.

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(adaptation), (Cosmopolitan Magazine novel), 1 more credit »
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Title: A Letter to Three Wives (1949)

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Won 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
...
Barbara Lawrence ...
Jeffrey Lynn ...
Connie Gilchrist ...
Florence Bates ...
Mrs. Manleigh
Hobart Cavanaugh ...
Mr. Manleigh
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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

Plot Keywords:

letter | picnic | marriage | radio | writer | See more »

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

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

20 January 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Letter to Five Wives  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Joseph L. Mankiewicz had a real battle with the American censors at the time who would not permit him to use words like "laxative" and "toilet" in his script. He got his revenge with a famous double-entendre laden exchange which used words like "penetration" and "saturation". See more »

Goofs

The fluid in the martini pitcher started out as dark, but later was clear. See more »

Quotes

Lora Mae Hollingsway: I've been a good wife. The best wife your money could buy.
Porter Hollingsway: Strictly cash and carry.
Lora Mae Hollingsway: Isn't that what you wanted? Isn't that what you told me? "Out in the open. You made a good deal, kid." Did you every stop to think, Porter, that in over 3 years there's one word we've never said to each other, even in fun?
Porter Hollingsway: To you, I'm a cash register. You can't love a cash register.
Lora Mae Hollingsway: And I'm part of your inventory. You can't love that, either.
Porter Hollingsway: I asked you to marry me because I was crazy about you.
Lora Mae Hollingsway: You didn't even...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in George Stevens: The Filmmakers Who Knew Him (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Concerto No. 2 in B Flat Major, Op. 83
(uncredited)
Music by Johannes Brahms
Played at the Phipps dinner party
See more »

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User Reviews

Three wives must endure a day of apprehension over the possibility that one of their husbands has run off with their close friend.
23 May 2002 | by (Brooklyn, New York) – See all my reviews

In `A Letter to Three Wives,' Deborah Bishop, Lora Mae Hollingsway, and Rita Phipps are chaperoning underprivileged children on a day trip picnic. As they board the riverboat that will ferry them up-river to the picnic grounds, they are stopped by a messenger who delivers a letter from their dear, close friend, Addie Ross. Addie, who was supposed to accompany them on the day trip, quite unexpectedly, left town that very morning. After debating whether or not they should open the letter, with a bit of trepidation, they do. And so begins the story of three wives, three husbands, one letter, and Mrs. Addie Ross.

Addie Ross wrote in the letter to her dear, close friends Deborah, Lora Mae, and Rita, that she was so sorry to be leaving town, permanently. And, that by the way, she took one of their husbands with her.

Which husband has run off with Addie Ross? That question is the driving force of this drama, with just a bit of comedy to hone its edges. This movie is compelling, there are no gaps; from start to finish you're hooked. Be there no doubt, you'll be kept guessing until the end. All is not always what it seems.

`A Letter to Three Wives,' is a story nicely staged by a series of three flashbacks, each chronicling meaningful events in the lives and marriages of the three wives.

Jeanne Crain does well playing Deborah, the young, sometimes self-doubting and suspicious wife of the well-to-do Brad Bishop, played by Jeffrey Lynn. As we soon learn, Brad is a lifelong, close friend of the alluring Addie Ross.

The story is further fashioned by the immense talents of Kirk Douglas and Ann Sothern, who portray George and Rita Phipps. George is a devoted school teacher, and Rita is a social climbing script writer of radio plays. Both George and Rita are old, close friends of Addie Ross. However, Rita thinks George is just a little to close. Expect a stellar performance from Ann Sothern, because that's exactly what you're going to get.

This story's most interesting characters are portrayed by Paul Douglas, and the beautiful Linda Darnell. These talented actors play Porter and Lora Mae Hollingsway. They're a couple who tolerate a marriage of convince, he for her beauty, and she for his money. Lora Mae knows that Porter has helped Addie Ross with financial matters in the past, and perhaps other things in the present.

This movie has an excellent supporting cast in Thelma Ritter, and Connie Gilchrist. Look for them to relieve the natural tension of this story. Also contributing are Hobart Cavanaugh and Florence Bates, as Mr. and Mrs. Manleigh. Keep your ear tuned and listen for Celeste Home, as she is the voice of Addie Ross.

`A Letter to Three Wives,' is a festival of love, hate, jealousy, and suspicion. It's propelled by the energy of a very high caliber cast, and the directorial influence of Joseph L. Mankiewiez.

It should be noted that `A Letter to Three Wives,' brought Mankiewiez, two Academy Awards in 1949. Best Director and Best Writing, Screenplay.


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