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Bette Davis in "The Letter" on TCM NOW!!!

I meant to post this when the movie first came on, but the opening sequence drew me in and only now can I post this.

A great Davis performance, but proof how the Production Code ruined a great story by W. Somerset Maugham.

by Anonymousreply 2903/23/2013

How do the story, play and earlier film differ from this one?

by Anonymousreply 103/19/2013

I have not seen the Jeanne Eagels version from 1929, R1, but the original play allowed Leslie Crosbie to live with her crime. The Hollywood Production Code would not allow this, hence the ending.

by Anonymousreply 203/19/2013

Gale Sondergaard!!

The moon!

The shadows!

The music!



by Anonymousreply 303/19/2013

R3 - not to mention the plantation workers sleeping in their hammocks. Pretty intense and gritty for a movie at that time.

by Anonymousreply 403/19/2013

If you love a person you can forgive anything.

I still love the man I killed!

by Anonymousreply 503/19/2013

My favorite BD movie. I even love the ending--justice is served, but oh-so-luridly.

by Anonymousreply 603/19/2013

This is my favorite BD movie as well, it is just letter-perfect and it's one I can watch over and over. I made sure not to miss it today.

by Anonymousreply 703/19/2013

R2 I have the Jeanne Eagels version from Warner Archives. It looks like she is tweaking through her entire performance. There is not much difference in the content.

by Anonymousreply 803/19/2013

For me, the only misstep in the movie is the casting of Herbert Marshall, but then I dislike him in any movie he made.

I don't understand his being in so many good movies from that era. Maybe they felt sorry for him because he had only one leg.

He almost ruins "The Little Foxes" for me too, but everyone else is so amazing that I can practically block him and his performance out.

by Anonymousreply 903/19/2013

Wow, r2, so it was the Crimes and MIsdemeanors/Match Point of its day - cool.

Still, the Davis version is a superb movie with Wyler's direction, Davis at her most economical. It's very racist, of course, but you can't have everything.

by Anonymousreply 1003/20/2013

No actor compares to Davis at her best.

by Anonymousreply 1103/20/2013

Agree with r6 - love the ending, BD expression as she go out of the garden to meet her fate.

by Anonymousreply 1203/20/2013

Great film, great actress at her peak.

by Anonymousreply 1303/20/2013

I've seen the Eagels version and she's amazing, but "The Letter" was definitely one of Bette's finest.

by Anonymousreply 1403/20/2013

How about that opening tracking shot that moves from the worker's housing to the plantation house to BD shooting her lover. Best movie opening evah!

by Anonymousreply 1503/20/2013

There's a 1982 tv movie as well starring Lee Remick, its quite good, if not in the Wyler class, but I love Remick who is ably supported by Christopher Cazenove and Ian McShane (the shot lover), Jack Thopmson (the husband), Ronald Pickup (the lawyer). Its in colour and plays up the sweaty humidity.

by Anonymousreply 1603/20/2013

The Lee Remick troll is back !

by Anonymousreply 1703/20/2013

I love this movie.

by Anonymousreply 1803/20/2013

Actually the 1929 Eagels version (which runs only 61 minutes) is quite different from the 1940 film in that the first portion leads up to the shooting (Herbert Marshall plays the lover in this one, and he's more interesting as a rake)and then most of the remaining film is the trial and aftermath. All of the post-shooting scenes that you see in the 1940 film are largely absent.

In the 1929 film Leslie's fate matches that of the original play.

by Anonymousreply 1903/20/2013

R15, I agree. Amazing opening.

by Anonymousreply 2003/20/2013

I hated Lee Remick's version because she portrayed Leslie as an American, which took away from the story IMO. If you are a good actor or actress, you can learn an accent.

by Anonymousreply 2103/20/2013

R9, I love Herbert Marshall!

He's perfect when he's noble & downtrodden by the women he's besotted with, in "The Letter" & "The Little Foxes", as well as the 1934 version of "The Painted Veil" with Garbo.

He's equally fine as a cad, in the 1941 version of "When Ladies Meet" with Joan Crawford, & "Trouble In Paradise" (1932) with Kay Francis & Miriam Hopkins.

I always enjoy watching him.

by Anonymousreply 2203/20/2013

I liked the guy who played the lawyer, don't know the actors name, but he had some really good scenes with Bette Davis and he came off so cool and smart and finally broken.

by Anonymousreply 2303/21/2013

R23, that was James Stephenson. He was nominated as best supporting actor for that role, & died young (52) a year later.

The lawyer was a great character. Maugham never wrote minor roles, everyone always seemed like a real person with layers & nuances. Wonderful writer. And gay, of course.

by Anonymousreply 2403/21/2013

Thank you R24 for the info, Stephenson's nomination was well deserved and as you say, very well written by Maugham.

by Anonymousreply 2503/21/2013

The Asian man who worked with/against the lawyer was also good, he was very subservient but at the same time smart and devious and knew how to manipulate the situation to get what he wanted.

by Anonymousreply 2603/23/2013


by Anonymousreply 2703/23/2013

He tried to make love to me!

by Anonymousreply 2803/23/2013


The LE-ttah!

by Anonymousreply 2903/23/2013
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