7.6/10
11,065
127 user 56 critic

The Letter (1940)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 23 November 1940 (USA)
Trailer
2:18 | Trailer
The wife of a rubber plantation administrator shoots a man to death and claims it was self-defense, but a letter in her own hand may prove her undoing.

Director:

William Wyler

Writers:

W. Somerset Maugham (play), Howard Koch (screen play)
Reviews
Nominated for 7 Oscars. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Bette Davis ... Leslie Crosbie
Herbert Marshall ... Robert Crosbie
James Stephenson ... Howard Joyce
Frieda Inescort ... Dorothy Joyce
Gale Sondergaard ... Mrs. Hammond
Bruce Lester ... John Withers
Elizabeth Inglis Elizabeth Inglis ... Adele Ainsworth (as Elizabeth Earl)
Cecil Kellaway ... Prescott
Victor Sen Yung ... Ong Chi Seng (as Sen Yung)
Doris Lloyd ... Mrs. Cooper
Willie Fung ... Chung Hi
Tetsu Komai Tetsu Komai ... Head Boy
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Storyline

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 J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Fascinating Tantalizing and DANGEROUS! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Herbert Marshall portrayed author W. Somerset Maugham in the 1946 film The Razor's Edge (1946) . See more »

Goofs

There is a running theme of Leslie looking at the moon. Many of the shots show a full moon in the exact same relation with the same palm tree despite Leslie looking at it from different locations. Towards the end of the film she looks up from the back door of her bedroom, a few minutes later she looks up from the middle of her back yard and again a moment later at the back gate. The moon and palm tree are the same distance apart in each shot, but even in that short span of minutes, the moon would have moved perceptibly in the sky. Even more blatantly, the position of the palm tree should have changed dramatically from the parallax of her different viewing spots. Obviously, the moon shots were taken from a stationary position instead of using different setups for each place Leslie was standing. See more »

Quotes

Howard Joyce: Strange that a man can live with a woman for ten years and not know the first thing about her.
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Alternate Versions

Also shown in computer colorized version. See more »

Connections

Featured in All About Bette (1994) See more »

User Reviews

 
Chalk up another winner for the great Bette Davis
4 June 2006 | by garrardSee all my reviews

In a career that spanned almost six decades, it would be hard pressed to cite one definitive Davis performance. There are so many, and with the number of Davis fans worldwide, it would be redundant to list them here.

However, Davis's performance as adulterer/"devoted" wife "Leslie Crosbie" has to rank as one of her finest. Davis does more in the short span of ninety-five minutes (the film's running time) than an actor of lesser skill could do in an entire career. Her "Leslie" is delicate, yet demanding, appealing yet repulsive, and submissive yet authoritative. The character dominates every inch of the screen and the actress makes full use of those trademark "eyes" of which Kim Carnes sang.

The supporting cast is equally as brilliant, with Herbert Marshall outstanding as her loving (but dim-witted) husband, James Stephenson, suave and determined, as Davis's lawyer, Victor Sen Yung (later to achieve fame as "Hop Sing" on TV's "Bonanza"), and Gale Sondergaard, magnificent in the speechless yet captivating role of "Mrs. Hammond."

And praise of this film is not complete without mention of its score. Max Steiner contributed one of film's greatest musical accompaniments. So powerful is this work that Laurence Rosenthal adapted themes in his score to the television version, starring the late Lee Remick.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 November 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Letter See more »

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Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$16,455
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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