The Letter (1940) Directed By William Wyler
|A copy of this poster is stuck to my mirror :-)|
- Bette Davis as Leslie Crosbie
- Herbert Marshall as Robert Crosbie
- James Stephenson as Howard Joyce
- Gale Sondergaard as Mrs. Hammond
Leslie Crosby and her husband Robert are the owners of a rubber plantation in Malaya. One dark night Leslie runs out of her house on the plantation following a man, shooting him in the chest over and over again. When asked why she did this, she explained that Geoff Hammond, a friend of her and her husband, had visited her and "tried to make love to her," so she shot him. Everyone believes her completely, but she has to be imprisoned in a jail in Singapore until the hearing is over. Everything goes fine with her plan until her lawyer and friend, Howard Joyce discovers a letter to Geoff Hammond from Leslie begging him to come and see her. When confronted with the news she confesses that she had been having an affair with him and when she found out that he had got married to a native woman she was furious.
|Leslie Crosby and her lawyer|
DUN, DUN, DUUUUNNN!!!!
William Wyler can do nothing wrong in my book. His genius work on films like Mrs. Miniver (1942), Jezebel (1938) and The Little Foxes (1941) tops almost everything I've seen. Bette Davis gives a cold, calculating and manipulative performance as Leslie Crosby. Herbert Marshall (who was also paired with Bette Davis on The Little Foxes) was amazing as well. He was an extremely talented British actor who doesn't get enough credit for his work. This film is surely one of my favourite film noirs. Although the plot is very different, this picture reminds me of Double Indemnity (1940) - and Barbara Stanwyck's performance is similar to Bette Davis's. The way that William Wyler makes her lace-making such an important part of the story is very clever.
I adore this film, so if you are feeling in a particularly noirey mood it is perfect.