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DownGoesFrazier

A LETTER TO THREE WIVES

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Wow TopBilled, that's a surprise. You'd think Kirk Douglas would have had one by now, given his body of work. Paul Douglas and Thelma Ritter have been in enough movies to at least merit a day during Summer Under the Stars.

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Thanks midwestan for the reply. I was referring to the three female leads (sorry, I should have made that point clearer). Kirk Douglas was SOTM in the fall of 2012.

 

So from the cast of this film, Kirk Douglas and Ann Sothern have been Star of the Month on TCM.

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I also hadn't realized that Ann Sothern had been a SOTM, but sure enough back in July of 2001 TCM ran a 30 film tribute to her, beginning with a 10 film *Maisie* festival that ran from 8:00 PM through 11:30 the next morning. I'd love to see a repeat of that mini-festival sometime soon, since now we seem to be getting "Maisie" only in drips and drabs.

 

According to the writeup in Now Playing that appeared in that July issue, Sothern's biggest disappointment came when her agent gave the cold shoulder to an offer to have her co-star in *Zorba the Greek* after Simone Signoret had pulled out. When Anthony Quinn later told her that he wished she could have worked with him on that movie (which won Lila Kedrova an Oscar), Sothern said that this was the first time she'd even known that the part had been offered! Her agent had simply failed to notify her.

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If I were Sothern, I would have been furious! I wonder if she kept his services after that?

 

I think the argument she has with Kirk Douglas after the dinner party is one of the best dialogs of a marital spat ever.

 

*Adam's Rib* being another.

 

Douglas and Darnell's fights are more bitter, and seem to come off less convincing. Still, clever repartee.

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The comedic scenes were not just with Darnell's family. The dinner party scene at Sothern's and Douglas' house were also funny. Jeanne Crain on the dance floor was also funny. You need to rewatch the film, seems you missed alot

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I wouldn't make that comparision of the 2 films. Hey, you were the one that wrote most of the comedic scenes took place in the Darnell household, that's not so. I doubt anyone would say that *The Heiress* was a comedy/drama or a drama/comedy. Most would about *A Letter To Three Wives*

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TopBilled wrote:

> realized as I watched this today that only Ann Sothern has been a Star of the Month on TCM.

>... I was referring to the three female leads (sorry, I should have made that point clearer). Kirk Douglas was SOTM in the fall of 2012.

>So from the cast of this film, Kirk Douglas and Ann Sothern have been Star of the Month on TCM.

 

Well, this part of the thread is just begging for someone to mention that a respected poster here has been campaigning for over a year now to have Linda Darnell as Star of the Month.

As I'm sure you guys all know, he's dedicated a thread to this.

I'd like to see it too: Come on, TCM,

 

Linda Darnell !

Linda Darnell !

Her Star of the Month

sure would be swell !

 

(ok, that's why I rarely do those "campaign in rhyme" things for Miss Darnell. But she'd still be great for Star of the Month.)

 

Anyway, here's a link to Arturo's thread about her:

 

http://forums.tcm.com/thread.jspa?threadID=167442&tstart=15

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If I were Sothern, I would have been furious! I wonder if she kept his services after that?

 

If it'd been me, I would've made dropped a dime to a local mafia unit with a rusty guillotine in their equipment shed.

 

I think the argument she has with Kirk Douglas after the dinner party is one of the best dialogs of a marital spat ever.

 

Adam's Rib being another.

 

Douglas and Darnell's fights are more bitter, and seem to come off less convincing. Still, clever repartee.

 

Those are both great examples, but in terms of marital nuclear warfare, nothing will ever beat Liz and Dick in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

 

(Well, maybe the saga of John Wayne* and Lorena Bobbitt, but I don't know if Hollywood ever took the movie option on that one. ;) )

 

*Er, John Wayne *Bobbitt,* that is. Though seeing The Duke in that role would probably be well worth the price of admission. :)

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There should be a thread for Jeanne Crain, too. But we have been over this before. Darnell will not be chosen until Power has been chosen who will not be chosen until Monroe and Tierney have been chosen...

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On another note, speaking of Crain...I read that her character in this movie has symptoms of Aspergers in the novel, which was somewhat revolutionary for that time.

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I never said THE HEIRESS was a comedy/drama, or even a drama/ comedy. I just said that it, like many dramas, had some comic elements. Even Richardson's line that Clift "has been using my home as his clubhouse", is funny.

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Well to me the use of a very serious movie like The Heiress wasn't a good one to used in this discussion as it relates to if a movie is more comedy then drama.

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I think it was an excellent example (of course, I'm not objective) because it illustrates that even some very serious movies have comic elements. If I had found any comic elements in SCHINDLER'S LIST, I would have used that. (No "Seinfeld" references, please).

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>THE HEIRESS

 

Ha, now there is a film about a girl with Aspergers Syndrome.

 

She wasn't just young and inexperienced... she was mentally ****.

 

That's why she never married. No normal well-off young man would have her. She never "grew up". She simply became an old maid, because she never knew how to judge, evaluate, and get along with an intelligent and respectful young educated man.

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But the point was that while A Letter To Three Wives is about a serious topic, the script was written in a light hearted manner. That just isn't the case with The Heiress. The Apartment was a lot better example IMO.

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>Mentally ****? Hardly. She just was not good in social situations. Maybe she would have been better on message boards.

 

LOL. How do you think I know all about this. :P

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Here is the original review that appeared in Variety for this motion picture:

 

imgres7.jpg

 

While the picture is standout in every aspect, there are two factors mainly responsible for its overall quality. One is the unique story, adapted from a John Klempner novel by Vera Caspary and given a nifty screenplay by Joseph L Mankiewicz.

 

Idea has three young housewives in Westchester, NY (much of the film was shot on location in the east), all jealous of the same she-wolf who grew up with their husbands. The 'other woman' addresses a letter to all three wives explaining that she has run away with one of their spouses but without identifying which one. The audience is then given a chance to figure out which one it is, before a surprise denouement explains all.

 

Other standout aspect is the fine film debut of legit actor Paul Douglas. His role in Wives is that of a big, blustering but slightly dumb tycoon and he really gives it a ride with some neat character shading. He's equally good in the more serious romantic moments with Linda Darnell.

 

Rest of the cast is equally good. Jeanne Crain, Darnell and Ann Sothern, as the three fraus, each turns in a job as good as anything they've done. Kirk Douglas, playing Sothern's husband, is fine as the serious-minded literature prof who can't take his wife's soap-opera writing.

 

Story is bridged by the off-screen voice of the she-wolf, who is built into a character resembling every man's dream gal by the dialog. Mankiewicz, wisely, never shows her.

 

___

A Letter to Three Wives. (1948). Variety Movie Reviews, (1), 47.

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I can't believe that FredCDobbs said that the protagonist in The Heiress was mentally ****. I find FredCDobb's assessment of Catherine's character offensive on so many levels.

Clearly, she is a shy, socially awkward young woman whose emotional growth has been stifled, possibly because her father never loved her and felt she never "measured up" to his memories of her mother. Is every shy, social awkward person "****"? Catherine could be "Asperger's", which is a form of high-functioning autism, which causes limited social skills, but Asperger's is not mental retardation. In fact, many folks with Asperger's are highly intelligent and have above-average IQs.

 

However, I'm not convinced that Catherine is Asperger's either. She clearly loves and desires Morris, and there is a point where she even has an awareness that he's a fortune hunter, but that she wants to be with him anyway because of her father's coldness. I think she's a woman who has been emotionally damaged by an unloving parent. The scene at her father's death as well as the final scene show her emotional development; she is now clearly her own woman, but also someone who has chosen emotional detachment as a way of life because she has been wounded too many times.

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>Mentally ****? Hardly. She just was not good in social situations.

 

OK, how about if he said "emotionally ****"?

After all, "****" only means "slow" the opposite of "accelerated".

 

>Clearly, she is a shy, socially awkward young woman whose emotional growth has been stifled

>Is every shy, social awkward person "****"?

 

Well yes, they are SLOW to maturing their social skills. Not that everyone needs to be a certain level socially, but shyness shouldn't hold you back from a happy fulfilling life.

 

>I think she's a woman who has been emotionally damaged by an unloving parent.

 

Not only unloving, but his constant belittlement confuses her. She wonders if her only value as a woman is money, she has no self worth as a person.

The end of the movie is a hollow triumph-she finally learns to make her own decision, but the audience feels it's a mistake- it costs her possible happiness.

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Since this film was shown as part of Oscar month, I feel the need to venture forth with my opinion that 1949 was one of the most intriguingly off-the-mark years in Academy history (and that's really saying something.)

 

Four of the five Best Picture nominees were pretty weak, with only "The Heiress" being a worthy entry (and it's not exactly a "crowd pleaser.") and the worst of the lot- "All the King's Men"- was the winner. "King's Men" star Broderick Crawford became what more than one person has called "arguably the worst actor to win an Oscar" over Kirk Douglas and John Wayne; Mercedes McCambridge won supporting Actress for the only "off" performance I've ever seen her give; and Dean Jagger's woeful post-Oscar career makes his victory over Ralph Richardson, James Whitmore and Arthur Kennedy seem poorly thought-out in retrospect.

 

The parody-worthy hokum of "The Stratton Story" beat "White Heat" for Best Original Story and a lot of weak performances made the cut white a lot of great ones did not (and a lot of great films were denied nominations- although some of them- "Gun Crazy", "White Heat" and "They Live By Night" come to mind- would've likely earned an internal audit of the voting system had they made the Best Picture race at the time.

 

To take it back to "Three Wives"- it is curious to me that the film won Oscars for the direction and screenplay, because those are the two biggest problems of the film, and the two factors that cause the

intriguing premise of the tale to not come anywhere near making payment in full on its terrific potential.

 

I'm not quite sure how the director deserved to win when not a single performance in the film earned an Oscar nomination (and rightly so.) Jean Crain is stiff and humorless (as she often was) and Kirk Douglas seems unsure of himself (the clumsy, didactic dialogue he's given to recite doesn't help.) Ann Sothern is underused- not allowed to show any of the humor she exuded in most of her other roles; Linda Darnell is TERRIFIC, but- to take it back to the screenplay- the refusal of the author to allow the stories to blend in any way- throws the whole balance of the piece off (her story is EASILY the most compelling and the other two pale in comparison.)

 

The structure of the screenplay- stiff and unimaginative- gives us no sense of cohesion or interplay between the characters, the three stories are told in a dry, episodic fashion, and the protagonists have really minimal interraction with one another- especially in the scenes on the boat where the suspense should have been at its greatest. Combine with that the aforementioned dialogue issues- (Douglas's clunky speechifying in his vignette comes to mind) and the dull production values (20th Century Fox produced some of the most visually uninteresting films of the late forties) and it's one of the most intriguing premises for a great film squandered that comes to my mind.

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