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CaveGirl

Hooked on...The Letter!

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I see "The Letter" is on this weekend on TCM. I cannot stop watching this movie. The settings, the diabolical Bette Davis cuckolding her simple minded hubby, as played by Herbert Marshall. The music, and the scenes with the moonlight and trees obscuring the sky. Dead man at the bottom of the stairs, opium den-like spots with the only woman who has such an evil smile, Gale Sondergaard. Endless knitting or tatting or whatever, and more innuendo than a murder case on the Investigation Discovery channel. This film is endlessly entertaining and Willie Wyler made a masterpiece for sure. I can watch it over and over.

Finally after being hooked for years, and buying it on dvd, I decided to get the written tale, as I love Somerset Maugham's works anyway, and was a bit shocked that one major famous line from the film is not in the book, but fear not, anything by Somerset is still worth reading. He was a master of understanding the human soul and underpinnings, and always shows truth.

If not, "The Letter" what film are you HOOKED ON?

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I have owned Victor/Victoria on all media but video tape. RCA CED and Pioneer LaserDisc. Both were Full Screen pan and scan. Over two hours and broken into three sides on disc. I have the DVD and Blu-ray. Sunday night, I will watch it on TCM, even though it is still on the DVR. Do I appear HOOKED? Since "The Letter" is Noir Alley, you get two chances to watch. ENJOY!

I have the Broadway Victor/Victoria on DVD, but the Blu-ray seems to be no more. TCM should consider playing the Broadway version if possible.

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OH yeah! I remember always turning up the radio whenever that Box Tops song began playing back in the day TOO, CG! Yep, right from those opening lines, "Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane, ain't got time to take a fast train", I was hooked every time! Although, I always thought the use of the word "aeroplane" seemed a bit anachronistic by '67. Guess they had to fill three beats of the music, and so they used that old time word instead, huh.

(...wait...maybe I should read your OP first here before commenting...I'll get back to ya after I have) 

;)

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8 minutes ago, Dargo said:

OH yeah! I remember always turning up the radio whenever that Box Tops song began playing back in the day TOO, CG! Yep, right from those opening lines, "Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane, ain't got time to take a fast train", I was hooked every time! Although, I always thought the use of the word "aeroplane" seemed a bit anachronistic by '67. Guess they had to fill three beats of the music, and so they used that old time word instead, huh.

(...wait...maybe I should read your OP first here before commenting...I'll get back to ya after I have) 

;)

OH DARGO, YOU DA' MAN. ROCK ON!

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THE LETTER is one of my favorite movies and one of my favorite Bette Davis performances.  The whole cast is terrific!  Poor Herbert Marshall gets badly treated by Bette here and in THE LITTLE FOXES.  Trivia note:  Marshall is also in the 1929 version with Jeanne Eagels only in this one he plays the murdered lover.  He has a scene before he gets plugged when he tells Leslie it's over. 

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46 minutes ago, ChristineHoard said:

THE LETTER is one of my favorite movies and one of my favorite Bette Davis performances.  The whole cast is terrific!  Poor Herbert Marshall gets badly treated by Bette here and in THE LITTLE FOXES.  

THE LETTER is indeed a classic. Though I think I like THE LITTLE FOXES a bit more, but both are great movies.

And you're quite right about Marshall's characters always being treated so horribly by Davis' poor excuse of a wife in both movies.

I always feel bad for Robert in here especially when (SPOILERS) he was willing to give Leslie another chance even after learning of her affair and she blurts out she still loves the man she shot and killed, out of spite and not self-defense as she claimed. 

I really hope Robert eventually found a wife more worthy of his affections once the aftermath of Leslie's murder died down.

 

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13 hours ago, Bethluvsfilms said:

and she blurts out she still loves the man she shot and killed, out of spite and not self-defense as she claimed. 

I don't recall that a "blurts out" thing, it was rather an emotional effusion out of sheer distress for perhaps not being able to live a lie, something along that order. I don't think it was out of spite. was it? All this might be wrong but that's how I'm remembering it.

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16 minutes ago, laffite said:

I don't recall that a "blurts out" thing, it was rather an emotional effusion out of sheer distress for perhaps not being able to live a lie, something along that order. I don't think it was out of spite. was it? All this might be wrong but that's how I'm remembering it.

I agree that Bette Davis' "I still love the man I killed" line was not blurted out.  Herbert Marshall is still prepared to forgive Davis in spite of everything.  Davis' emotional distress of having to try and maintain her charade of self defense and hiding her affair finally boils over and she cannot take it.  I also think that she wants Marshall to leave, she knows that he deserves more.  Davis' murder of Hammond was done out of spite.  She was upset that he was planning on ending the affair and going back to his wife. 

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23 hours ago, laffite said:

I don't recall that a "blurts out" thing, it was rather an emotional effusion out of sheer distress for perhaps not being able to live a lie, something along that order. I don't think it was out of spite. was it? All this might be wrong but that's how I'm remembering it.

They meant the shooting was done in spite, not self defense......

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1 hour ago, Ray Faiola said:

Don't forget Max's exotic score!

letter_cover.jpg

YES! That helps out a lot too.

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DON'T miss the Jeanne Eagels version of THE LETTER.

Just before she died (1929), she gave the performance of her life in THE LETTER (1929.)

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10 hours ago, papyrusbeetle said:

DON'T miss the Jeanne Eagels version of THE LETTER.

Just before she died (1929), she gave the performance of her life in THE LETTER (1929.)

You can catch the original version w/Eagels & Reginald Owen as her husband on You Tube. Eagels was mesmerizing. What a tragic, self-destructive end to such a brilliant, promising talent. BTW: Ironically, Herbert Marshall who played the husband in the Davis remake, played the lover who was shot in the Eagels' original. 

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The English actress who played Bette Davis's mother in " Now, Voyager", Gladys Cooper, originated the role of Leslie Crosby for Somerset  Maugham on the London stage.

Gladys was the leader of the English film colony in Hollywood. She had a rather pejorative opinion of Bette Davis's performance in her role.

I have to say that there's something in "The Letter" to offend and /or disgust everyone.  Even though Bette is my favorite actress,  I can't stand this movie. 

The best part is the beginning when she comes out shooting and it just goes downhill from there.

The only salvation for this film is the endearing performance of Herbert Marshall.

I can also say 2 other good things about this film:

Orry-Kelly did a great job for Bette and Tony Gaudio made sure that we could see her at best advantage.

The rest is best left unsaid.

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I'm gonna "wet" on these cornflakes and say I thought, after years of "hype" about it, that I found the movie somewhat of a disappointment.  Y'know, like BRINGING UP BABY, a movie that so much fuss was made about over the years by movie "experts" that many people feel an obligation  to say they like it or thought it was "great" in order to avoid the possibility of looking like someone who doesn't  know a good movie from a bad one, and also possibly not "fit in" with the "film buff" crowd.  ;)  You know, like that one person in another thread that claimed that, "a film lover HAS to love silent movies!"( or words to that effect).

Sepiatone

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9 hours ago, Princess of Tap said:

The English actress who played Bette Davis's mother in " Now, Voyager", Gladys Cooper, originated the role of Leslie Crosby for Somerset  Maugham on the London stage.

Gladys was the leader of the English film colony in Hollywood. She had a rather pejorative opinion of Bette Davis's performance in her role.

I have to say that there's something in "The Letter" to offend and /or disgust everyone.  Even though Bette is my favorite actress,  I can't stand this movie. 

The best part is the beginning when she comes out shooting and it just goes downhill from there.

The only salvation for this film is the endearing performance of Herbert Marshall.

I can also say 2 other good things about this film:

Orry-Kelly did a great job for Bette and Tony Gaudio made sure that we could see her at best advantage.

The rest is best left unsaid.

Wow, Princess. And here Marshall has always been my least favorite in this film.

But then again, this was probably because he played such a damn wimp in it. Bette treats him like dirt, but in his oh so mannered way, he keeps forgiving her.

Although, I DO have to admit that Marshall WAS always very good at playing that type, wasn't he.

(...I always wondered if whenever Central Casting as looking for someone to play the mannered cuckold and/or wimpy type, good ol' Herbert got the first call...bet he did, huh...well, he must have when they cast him in THIS flick, The Little Foxes AND Duel in the Sun anyway, RIGHT?!...and just to a name a few!)

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The Letter is a perfect illustration, unlike some of Davis's more histrionic work, of the actress bringing more to a role when she gives less. Thanks Willie Wyler!

But I have also long been an admirer of James Stephenson's beautifully nuanced low key performance as her attorney. He brings genuine integrity to the part of an honest lawyer who compromises his own values, and regrets it. At the same time, through Stephenson's eyes, we see his observation of Davis's character and how his feelings about her gradually change.

This role was a breakthrough for Stephenson who would die, tragically, the year after The Letter's release. Who knows what fine work may have laid ahead for this fine character actor. At least, at the end of his life, he finally got a fine role through which he was able to reveal his subtle acting skills.

7969287_1065801916.jpg

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25 minutes ago, TomJH said:

The Letter is a perfect illustration, unlike some of Davis's more histrionic work, of the actress bringing more to a role when she gives less. Thanks Willie Wyler!

But I have also long been an admirer of James Stephenson's beautifully nuanced low key performance as her attorney. He brings genuine integrity to the part of an honest lawyer who compromises his own values, and regrets it. At the same time, through Stephenson's eyes, we see his observation of Davis's character and how his feelings about her gradually change.

This role was a breakthrough for Stephenson who would die, tragically, the year after The Letter's release. Who knows what fine work may have laid ahead for this fine character actor. At least, at the end of his life, he finally got a fine role through which he was able to reveal his subtle acting skills.

7969287_1065801916.jpg

YES!!! Her performance is very constrained and very effective. Why it's one of my favorites of her performances. She's not chewing the scenery and he is wonderful in his role also. You can feel how he is thinking and so much is left unsaid........Subtlety, as you say, is the key word.

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3 hours ago, Dargo said:

Wow, Princess. And here Marshall has always been my least favorite in this film.

But then again, this was probably because he played such a damn wimp in it. Bette treats him like dirt, but in his oh so mannered way, he keeps forgiving her.

Although, I DO have to admit that Marshall WAS always very good at playing that type, wasn't he.

(...I always wondered if whenever Central Casting as looking for someone to play the mannered cuckold and/or wimpy type, good ol' Herbert got the first call...bet he did, huh...well, he must have when they cast him in THIS flick, The Little Foxes AND Duel in the Sun anyway, RIGHT?!...and just to a name a few!)

Dargo- In real life I heard Herbert Marshall was anything but.....

I thought he was absolutely giving The Knockout Performance of his life in "The Little Foxes".  It's the kind of scene that you remember for the rest of your life - - they always show Bette Davis and talk about Bette Davis in the scene, but he completely steals it from her.

Mind you this is coming from one of Bette's adoring fanatics-- and the movies I like her best in are when there are two of her because I just can't get enough of her. LOL

 

BTW-- Ralph Bellamy had that wimpy role tattooed on his forehead. He was such a great actor and went on to play FDR in "Sunrise at Campobello" that I think it must be very hard indeed to play wimps as well as he did.

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22 minutes ago, Princess of Tap said:

Dargo- In real life I heard Herbert Marshall was anything but.....

I thought he was absolutely giving The Knockout Performance of his life in "The Little Foxes".  It's the kind of scene that you remember for the rest of your life - - they always show Bette Davis and talk about Bette Davis in the scene, but he completely steals it from her.

Mind you this is coming from one of Bette's adoring fanatics-- and the movies I like her best in are when there are two of her because I just can't get enough of her. LOL

 

BTW-- Ralph Bellamy had that wimpy role tattooed on his forehead. He was such a great actor and went on to play FDR in "Sunrise at Campobello" that I think it must be very hard indeed to play wimps as well as he did.

Yes, but the difference being that when Bellamy played that sort of role and usually in comedies, he usually played it as sort of a slow-witted rube, but whereas when Marshall played it, he usually played it as a sophisticate.

(...and with the latter's British accent being the primary reason for this, of course)

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4 hours ago, Dargo said:

Wow, Princess. And here Marshall has always been my least favorite in this film.

But then again, this was probably because he played such a damn wimp in it. Bette treats him like dirt, but in his oh so mannered way, he keeps forgiving her.

Although, I DO have to admit that Marshall WAS always very good at playing that type, wasn't he.

(...I always wondered if whenever Central Casting as looking for someone to play the mannered cuckold and/or wimpy type, good ol' Herbert got the first call...bet he did, huh...well, he must have when they cast him in THIS flick, The Little Foxes AND Duel in the Sun anyway, RIGHT?!...and just to a name a few!)

Marshall got cuckolded a lot. Dietrich; Garbo; Bette; who knows how many others. Maybe they were driven by boredom. I know I would've been!

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On 6/2/2018 at 9:54 PM, ChristineHoard said:

THE LETTER is one of my favorite movies and one of my favorite Bette Davis performances.  The whole cast is terrific!  Poor Herbert Marshall gets badly treated by Bette here and in THE LITTLE FOXES.  Trivia note:  Marshall is also in the 1929 version with Jeanne Eagels only in this one he plays the murdered lover.  He has a scene before he gets plugged when he tells Leslie it's over. 

Thank you, Christine! I too feel sorry for poor old Herbert, and wonder if Bette treated him that way due to his artificial limb? I've seen the Jeanne Eagels version and really enjoyed it though it is done with an entirely different slant than Bette's version. I think James Stephenson was wonderful also, don't you? The bit about how could a man be married to someone for many years and still not know her is a fascinating scene. 

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On 6/3/2018 at 12:05 PM, laffite said:

I don't recall that a "blurts out" thing, it was rather an emotional effusion out of sheer distress for perhaps not being able to live a lie, something along that order. I don't think it was out of spite. was it? All this might be wrong but that's how I'm remembering it.

That's the part not in the book as I recall.

 

In my memory she does seem to blurt it out, like she wants to shout her love for the dead paramour to the rooftops, but I may be hallucinating...

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14 hours ago, Princess of Tap said:

I have to say that there's something in "The Letter" to offend and /or disgust everyone.  Even though Bette is my favorite actress,  I can't stand this movie. 

You declare that the movie is offensive and disgusting and for everyone no less, but don't bother to say what exactly you find offensive or disgusting about it.

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