7.6/10
11,709
130 user 64 critic

The Letter (1940)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 23 November 1940 (USA)
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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)
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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:

I wish I could say I was sorry. See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film has a 100% rating based on 13 critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. See more »

Goofs

When Howard Joyce is in his office talking to Robert Crosbie, he is sitting on the arm of a chair and holding a cigarette with his right hand. But on the next immediate cut when he stands up, the cigarette is in his left hand. See more »

Quotes

Robert Crosbie: I'll do whatever you think is right.
Howard Joyce: I don't think it's right, but I think it's expedient. Juries can sometimes be very stupid, and it's just as well not to worry them with more evidence than they can conveniently deal with.
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Alternate Versions

Also shown in computer colorized version. See more »

Connections

Remake of The Letter (1929) See more »

User Reviews

 
Exquisite!!!!
21 May 2007 | by RaiderJackSee all my reviews

From the opening sequence where we see Bette emptying her gun on this poor unsuspecting soul, you become riveted watching one of Ms. Davis' all-time flawless performances.

In a nutshell, this tells the story of what happens when first we practice to deceive. Bette claims she was attacked by a friend she has seen only casually until she was forced to "defend" herself against his unwanted advances. Initially, it looks like a slam dunk but when the case is taken to trial, more and more, Bette's lies get the best of her.

Not a sympathetic character for the most part. There is one chilling scene where she, totally exasperated with having to remember so many lies, makes a confession to her husband. It is a fascinating scene for while you recoil at her seemingly selfish attitude, there is this underlying, reluctant admiration you feel for this woman's brutal honesty.

Excellent supporting cast all around, most notably, Herbert Marshall as the poor unsuspecting (it appears many men fall under this category when dealing with the Divine Ms. Davis!)husband whose main goal is to support his wife. Now whether she deserves this loyalty is another ugly story.

Excellent mystery with certainly enough twists and turns to keep you totally engrossed in a very good story.

*Just watched it again last night (10/8/2006) - I'm tellin' ya guys - after 900 viewings, the movie still rocks!!!!


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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
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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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