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misswonderly3

Letter to Three Wives: Sorry, I didn't get it

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I just saw the famous *Letter to Three Wives*, a film I've heard a lot about but never seen before. Although I enjoyed it, I hate to admit this but I did not understand the ending. Whose husband, if any, did the "Addie" character run off with?

If it was Jeanne Craine's husband, what good will Paul Douglas' made-up confession that it was him, and changed his mind, do? She'll find out soon enough that that's not true, it's only postponing her pain.

If he told the truth, went to meet Addie, and changed his mind, then where is Jeanne Craine's husband?

Call me dumb ("do ya think I'm dumb or something ? " Oh sorry, wrong movie) but I did not "get" the ending to this at all, and thought it an unsatisfactory and somewhat rushed ending to an otherwise very entertaining film.

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********************SPOILERS*********************************

 

 

I don't think Addie ran off with any of the husbands. Brad was delayed in getting back that night but he would be there on Sunday. He warned Deborah that he might be delayed overnight and not to be surprised if he was.

 

Porter thought about it and then realized he loved Laura Mae.

 

George never really had second thoughts.

 

The tipping of the glass and Addie's more melancholy "heigh ho" instead of her usual exuberance voice over delivery point in that direction.

 

Edited by: lzcutter for more thoughts

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But, don't you wonder why she left town anyway, if it wasn't with one of the three husbands? The story leaves the impression that she's leaving with one of them. Then she leaves with none. She didn't strike me as one to save face, since she has no problem to writing the snidest letter of all time to three different women.

 

Or possibly it's like Porter refers, he maybe stood up Addie Ross at the last second.

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> But, don't you wonder why she left town anyway, if it wasn't with one of the three husbands

 

I think she tried to entice each husband into leaving but was surprised that none of them really took the bait.

 

So, instead of hanging around a social circle that would have known that she lost, so to speak, the better part of her narcissism meant she had to move on to greener pastures.

 

But not before she took one more mean swipe at the three women who had befriended her and whom she thought she would blindside but instead gave them each a better understanding of the meaning of love.

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from the imdb trivia entries for this film:

 

General [Douglas MacArthur|http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0531274/] was so confused by the ending that he had his aide write [Joseph L. Mankiewicz|http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000581/] a letter asking with whom Addie had, in fact, run off.

 

 

It's funny. I've always assumed Paul Douglas was telling the truth- that he had run off with Addie and changed his mind last minute- no ambiguity for me. Especially since Jeanne Crain's husband Jeffrey Lynn is fuh-lamingly gay. "Darling, you must wear this little black number I found in a Vogue someone left on the train to the charity ball." Riiiiight.

 

Last night was the second time I've seen Three Wives and I have to admit, I liked it better the second time around...although Kirk Douglas doesn't really come off (not entirely his fault) and some of the dialogue clunks (mostly in the first third)

 

But Linda Darnell was great and Thelma Ritter was an absolute hoot.

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Yes, Thelma Ritter and Connie Gilchrist riding out the express 6:42 is scene I really enjoy. Refrigerator opening is a nice touch, ties it in to the relationship of all them to Porter.

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Lately, I heard it said by a young-whippersnapper that in today's world, the whole plot element of the ladies wanting to make that desperate phone call at the time there getting ready to leave on the boat trip wouldn't or couldn't have happened with the utilzation of a celphone! I guess there is a logical coherence to feel that all three of the wives would have been calling their husbands or the mysterious," Miss Addie Ross." But then, that doesn't mean the husband in question or even Addie would answer the celphone with the caller ID signifying whose coming in on the other line! So, I believe that despite whatever new technologies have changed our world, there is still a way for the plot to keep us guessing or the wives not get through to their husbands and that mysterious husband stealing witch, or let's spell it with a capital "B!"

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Sadly, it's just not rewrites, but even current stories get the update treatment with technology. I have to change around a spec script to accommodate the changes in cell phones.. etc. Eventually, it will probably have to be shown as a sample.

 

On the other hand, it could be amusing to have a "cell can't reach" twist to the story.

 

Edited by: casablancalover on Aug 28, 2011 4:51 PM

 

Edited by: casablancalover on Aug 28, 2011 4:52 PM

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> {quote:title=cinemanut wrote:}{quote} For the 3 femme leads this was a peak that they never came close to again, in fact Sothern and Darnell would be pretty much out of pictures in about 5 years, tho they would stay busy with that new fangled invention called TV. Just a thought.

And yet, as a happy note, Ann Sothern was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actress 39 years after Three Wives for her role in The Whales of August whilst her costars Bette Davis and Lillian Gish were snubbed.

 

Sadly things did not turn out so good for Darnell, but that's the game of Life.

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I don't think this film holds up as well as it should. The scenes involving the radio program are very dated. But it's the idea of three saucy dames dealing with a shared rival that makes it fun. Instead of the four stars it often receives from critics, I would give it a solid three stars, one for each of the leading ladies.

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I remember years ago on AMC that the host explained at the end that Addie had run away with Jeanne Crain's husband, which wasn't correct.

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I'm watching it a second time.

 

In my opinion, I think the ending of the movie, as a stand-alone work of fiction, is too vague and is open to interpretation and speculation.

 

One has to consult with the book to see how the story really ends. Or, we all have to vote on it and the majority opinion wins.

 

However, lz might be able to persuade me that her opinion is the correct one. :)

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While I buy that Douglas is telling the truth, it does seem odd that Mank. leaves the ending a bit ambigous. (never having Jeffrey Lynn come back or even call).

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*I don't think this film holds up as well as it should. The scenes involving the radio program are very dated.*

 

I disagree. You just have to substitute TV for radio and the comments about the real reason for the "pap' being turned out is pretty much on the money, to this day. This is what makes the dialogue so biting.

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> {quote:title=Hibi wrote:}{quote}Agree. The plot surrounding Sothern is rather boring. I found the Crain segments a bit tame too. It was only Darnell's segment that continues to hold my interest (I've seen the film several times now.....)

Agree agree. And what was up with that quasi-afro Sothern was rocking? Was it supposed to show how harried her character was or something?, because it was not cute.

 

The Douglas/Mankiewicz-soliloquy-on-the-faults-of-radio scenes may or may not not be "dated", but they're definitely pretentious...Which is one of the reasons I'm just not that "in" to most Mankiewicz films.

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*And what was up with that quasi-afro Sothern was rocking? Was it supposed to show how harried her character was or something?, because it was not cute.*

 

*'quasi-afro'*? Huh? It looks soft and wavy, not nppy or kinky. Seems like a typically short mid-20-th century women's hairstyle, and as such, is quite becoming IMHO.

 

*The Douglas/Mankiewicz-soliloquy-on-the-faults-of-radio scenes may or may not not be "dated", but they're definitely pretentious...Which is one of the reasons I'm just not that "in" to most Mankiewicz films.*

 

Well it IS a schoolteacher (with an axe to grind) doing the talking, and his comments are spot-on; commentators to this day bemoan the lowest common denominator mentality driving commercial TV, which is all about selling spots to advertisers, just like then. I think the comments about school teachers starving in the richest country in the world remain sadly true to this day, as we see wholesale cuts to education and teachers as the economy falters.

 

 

Btw-I think Florence Bates' ferocious character is absolutely marvelous, and marvelously played.

 

 

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Keep talkin' Arturo. I think I see a glimmer of hope that Jonny here might just come to the realization that you're right, and that this flick might be as valid in today's world as it was in '49.

 

(...though gee, I certainly hope that that didn't sound "pretentious" at all) ;)

 

LOL

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Sorry, Arturo...I think you're stretchin' it. If they're talking about radio drama, then that is indicative of the times and makes the film slightly less accessible to modern audiences.

 

I think the story is also a bit dated, but the performances elevate it so I let it get by with more than I should.

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I thought Kirk Douglas' comments about radio would work perfectly today if they were about TV, which has taken over peoples' lives way more than radio. The business about schoolteachers being not respected and underpaid is also true.

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I don't think this film holds up as well as it should. The scenes involving the radio program are very dated

 

There was a late-80s made-for-TV remake that used practically the same speech but substituted the word "television" for "radio." One might as well complain that the problem with the movie is it's dated because today one or all of the women would have called Addie Ross or their respective husband on a cell phone and have gotten to solve the mystery in about ten minutes.

 

It wasn't the radio speech, it was the woody wagon that really dated it. Oh, and that big slate record that Addie sent to George. That really dates it compared to the size of a CD and CDs don't break as easily either.

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*Sorry, Arturo...I think you're stretchin' it. If they're talking about radio drama, then that is indicative of the times and makes the film slightly less accessible to modern audiences.*

*I think the story is also a bit dated, but the performances elevate it so I let it get by with more than I should.*

Of course radio drama is no longer a mass entertainment. but it is NOT a stretch to say that what is discussed re: mass media (i.e. TELELVISION) and commercial advertisement, holds up perfectly. Most other posts here agree . . . It's about the message...which is not dated at all.

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Arturo,

 

In my opinion it is a stretch to tell a modern viewer to substitute an element of the plot with something that could replace it today. That is not what the filmmakers intended, and I don't think that is how today's audiences should watch classic films. Otherwise, just watch new Hollywood releases that reflect the times now.

 

A LETTER TO THREE WIVES is most definitely dated and is one of those three-star films where folks generously heap an extra star on it...but regardless of how many agree or disagree (which is also an irrelevant point contained in your post), the fact is that there are a few creaky elements in the film. But the upside is that it has a charming cast and their sparkling performances are what elevate it to the realm of a classic.

 

Final analysis: one does not need to defend A LETTER TO THREE WIVES. One also does not need to sugar-coat anything and try to re-imagine it as something that can be more user-friendly to today's audiences by mentally substituting what is already on screen. The film, like most from the time period, serves as a type of historical (and to some extent cultural) artifact.

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I'm just glad to see that I wasn't the only one who thought the ending was ambiguous.

 

My wife thought it was obvious that Paul Douglas was telling the truth, that Porter had run away with Addie but had a change of heart, and that Jeannie Crain's husband would be back from his (totally legitimate) business convention in the morning.

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