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"Lettie Lynton" Mystery


Guest Griffin, Mark

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Guest Griffin, Mark

Okay...inquiring minds want to know...What's the deal with the highly elusive Joan Crawford film "Lettie Lynton" (MGM, 1932)? Apparently, it's been barely seen since it's first screening 70 years ago! Many Crawford filmographies don't even list it (nor does Leonard Maltin's otherwise comprehensive video guide!) I've heard rumors about some kind of copyright infringement lawsuit but you'd think after SEVENTY YEARS the individual(s) who brought the suit would consider the fact that DECADES have slipped by and the world is being deprived of a classic film starring one of the greatest celluloid stars of all time. Wouldn't it be time to ease up and consider the fact that most of the key players are long departed? Apart from stills, I don't think even brief excerpts from this movie are in circulation. What a shame...Is the movie based on a book? A play? What's all the legal hoopla about? Who is still benefiting from having this title kept out of the public arena?

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hey Mark! I had a great time researching your question. There definitely is a 1932 movie, LETTY LYNTON. It was withdrawn from circulation following a lawsuit that threatened MGM with losing all their income from the film. This movie was based on a true story of Madeline Smith, the "Edinburgh Poisoner." A book about this story was written by Mrs. Belloc Lowndes called, "Letty Lynton," in 1931. The imdb gives Mrs. Lowndes credit under the writing credits. A play called "Dishonored Lady" was produced, but MGM couldn't acquire the rights to this play because the Hays Office told them they wouldn't pass a story of this nature (Letty poisons her lover, and gets away with it!). The lawsuit alleged that parts of the play were written into the screenplay. It was apparently withdrawn from circulation. This info comes from a website called joancrawfordonline.com This site was a fan site devoted to Miss Crawford, and has information about every movie she's done! I also check the imdb, one of my favorite sources, and believe it or not, 11 people claim to have seen it, giving it a rating of 8.3 out of 10! There are even a couple of film reviews for it. I agree with you, Mark. I have no idea who's keeping this out of circulation. Possibly, the writer or his/her designees of the play, or perhaps the book, if they have renewed the copyrights. I doubt that anyone living today connected with the movie is still alive, so I wonder that it isn't played. It is rumored to be one of Joan's best roles. I hope this helps.

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Guest Griffin, Mark

Alix: Wow! How can I ever Thank You for conducting all of this research on my behalf? I'm really impressed with all of the information you were able to gather regarding this hidden gem! It's really time that the legalities were finally resolved and Miss Crawford's countless fans were allowed to see one of her best pics! I so appreciate your sleuthing efforts on this one. You really made my day! All the Best...Mark Griffin

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aw...it was nothing, Mark, glad to do it. I was the kid in school who loved to do research papers! Be sure to visit that awesome Joan Crawford website, though. I spent a lot of time there, reading trivia and reviews of her work. Most interesting to me were the comments Joan herself made about each movie and her work. Some of the pre-Code movies I like the most she dismisses as pieces of fluff, or is very critical of her work. Take care Mark...hope to chat with ya again!

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