Wednesday, March 9, 2011
The Letter (1940).
The Letter (1940). Film noir directed by William Wyler. The screenplay by Howard Koch is based on the 1927 play of the same name by W. Somerset Maugham. Cast: Bette Davis,
The story begins when, Leslie Crosbie, the wife of a rubber plantation manager, shoots six bullets into her ex-lover. She then sends for her husband Robert, who is out working at one of his plantations.
Her husband returns, with his attorney and a British police inspector. Leslie tells them that she killed him to "save her honor". Leslie is arrested and put in prison in Singapore to wait for her trial.
Her husband, believes her story, but her attorney Howard Joyce, is not so sure that she is telling the truth. Howard's suspicions are found to be true when his clerk Ong Chi Seng, shows him a copy of the letter Leslie wrote to Hammond, telling him she would be home alone that evening and that she very much wants to to see him.
Ong Chi Seng tells Howard, that Hammond's widow, has the original letter. Howard then confronts Leslie and forces her to confess to Hammond's murder, but.. Leslie talks her attorney into buying back the letter. Hammond's widow wants Leslie to come to pay for the letter herself, so that she can see what she looks like.
Now, with no letter to use against her, Leslie is acquitted. With the trial behind them Robert, makes plans to buy a rubber plantation in Sumatra, Howard and Leslie are forced to tell him that they have used all his savings to pay for a incriminating letter.
Robert, is heartbroken to learn that Hammond was her lover for years, but will forgive her if she can tell him that she loves him. Leslie, breaks down and tells him, "with all my heart, I still love the man I killed". Leslie, then walks out the gate. Will she ever return?
The film has excellent acting from the whole cast and it is beautifully filmed movie. You will never forget Davis' showing her face hidden in the shadows and those huge eyes just staring ahead.
She also performed in the film, The Life of Emile Zola (1937).
During pre-production of, The Wizard of Oz (1939), one of the first ideas was to have the Wicked Witch of the West portrayed as a glamorous villainous, inspired by the Wicked Queen in Walt Disney's, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937).
Sondergaard was originally cast as the witch in "Oz" and was photographed for two wardrobe tests. One was as a glamorous wicked witch and another as a ugly wicked witch. After the decision was made to have an ugly wicked witch, Sondergaard, withdrew from the role and the role went to character actress, Margaret Hamilton.
Sondergaard was cast, as the sexy Tylette, in the film, The Blue Bird(1940).
In 1940 she played the role of the evil wife in the film, The Letter, with Bette Davis.
She received a second Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress for her role as the King's wife in the film, Anna and the King of Siam (1946).