The Letter

It’s the formidable Bette Davis once again, in yet another superior William Wyler picture. The Somerset Maugham play is a classy vehicle for a star performance — the nagging legal ‘difficulty’ of plantation wife Leslie Crosbie is intertwined with colonial politics but remains entirely personal. Leslie isn’t exactly a poster girl for the feminist movement. Is she the victim of social pressures or just a petty, selfish monster? Screenwriter Howard Koch had to invent a twisted new ‘yellow peril’ finish to appease the Production Code … you know, the Code that some people say made Hollywood movies better.

The Letter


The Warner Archive Collection

1940 / B&w / 1:37 flat Academy / 95 min. / Street Date September 24, 2019 / available through the WBshop / 21.99

Starring: Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, James Stephenson, Frieda Inescort, Gale Sondergaard.

Cinematography: Tony Gaudio

Art Direction: Carl Jules Weyl

Film Editor: George Amy, Warren Low

Original Music: Max Steiner

Written by Howard
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