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"THE LETTER" (1940)

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JackFavell
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Re: "THE LETTER" (1940)

Postby JackFavell » May 1st, 2009, 12:39 pm

Aaaah! The real ending!

Finally we find out what it was supposed to be. Thank you Moira for posting the excerpt from the play. That ending was exceptionally well written.

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Re: "THE LETTER" (1940)

Postby moira finnie » May 1st, 2009, 2:07 pm

You're welcome, JackFavell. Glad to see you.

I went on a tear about a year or so ago reading everything I could of W. Somerset Maugham. I did everything but run away to a rubber plantation, become a secret agent for the Brits and take up with an ungrateful cockney baggage with tb!

Reading Maugham is quite the time trip, and while many of the social and racial attitudes have thankfully changed, it's wonderful where this writer can take you. And his insights into human nature haven't really changed.

Btw, when the play first opened of The Letter in London in 1927, guess who played Leslie Crosbie and her poor hubby?

Image
Gladys Cooper & Nigel Bruce! Though they looked quite different than they appeared as the sister and brother in law of Max de Winter in Rebecca
(1940).

Here's a glamour portrait of Gladys Cooper in the '20s
Image
Does she look like she'd shoot a guy for rejecting her?


(Heck, yeah.)
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Re: "THE LETTER" (1940)

Postby knitwit45 » May 1st, 2009, 2:18 pm

In a heartbeat! :shock: :shock: :shock: and, actually, I can hear Gladys Cooper saying the last lines of the play. That broad had hidden depths!!!!!!(that "broad" part was said affectionately, she's one of my favorite actresses)
Last edited by knitwit45 on May 1st, 2009, 2:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "THE LETTER" (1940)

Postby JackFavell » May 1st, 2009, 2:22 pm

OH MY GOSH! YES!

Those two seem like really quite traditional casting... I would love to have seen it.

That picture of younger Gladys looks a bit like Bette to me...probably the eye makeup... I would dearly have loved to see Gladys in a role that really stretched her and gave her something to do. What a comparison we could have between Bette and Gladys. I wonder if they ever talked about the role....

I went through a Maugham phase in college, he's a wonderful writer. I really enjoyed the works I read. I did not read "The Letter", only Of Human Bondage, The Razor's Edge and scads of short stories.

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Re: "THE LETTER" (1940)

Postby knitwit45 » May 1st, 2009, 2:28 pm

That picture of younger Gladys looks a bit like Bette to me...probably the eye makeup... I would dearly have loved to see Gladys in a role that really stretched her and gave her something to do. What a comparison we could have between Bette and Gladys. I wonder if they ever talked about the role....


Wouldn't you love to be a small mouse in the corner of some of the movie sets of the 40's? Unless Bette was in a "diva" mode, I'll bet she and Gladys had some doozies of conversations about that role. Especially on the set of Now, Voyager
Since that is my favorite of all Bette's movies, hearing this little piece of info just added layers to the enjoyment of it! Thanks for posting, Moira

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Re: "THE LETTER" (1940)

Postby moira finnie » May 1st, 2009, 2:33 pm

Gee, I hadn't realized it, but you guys are right. Gladys does look like Bette a little there. I love Gladys Cooper in everything, though I can't say that about Bette. I believe that I've read that Bette and Glad became friendly during Now, Voyager (no competition between the two, so why not be pals, I suppose). It would have been interesting to know if they'd discussed the role of Leslie Crosbie.

I read Of Human Bondage and The Razor's Edge in college and got much more out of them when I re-read them more recently. That's probably the sign of a good writer if they can give you something at each stage of your life.
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Re: "THE LETTER" (1940)

Postby JackFavell » May 1st, 2009, 2:37 pm

I was just thinking I should go back and read some more Maugham....if I can manage to fit it in between all the movies I have yet to watch.

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Re: "THE LETTER" (1940)

Postby MissGoddess » May 1st, 2009, 2:39 pm

Hmmm...I'm still going to say the ending in the movie
is much more to my preference. It is poetic and gives satisfaction to the widow.
It's dynamic. The story ending is dry, realistic and not really an ending at all,
just words and thoughts. I think Wyler improved upon it, with a little help
from the "code".
"There's only one thing that can kill the movies, and that's education."
-- Will Rogers

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Re: "THE LETTER" (1940)

Postby rohanaka » May 1st, 2009, 2:54 pm

Miss Goddess.... my sister!!! (Now I don't feel so all alone!!! ha.) :D

Actually... I like the THOUGHT of Leslie having to live with her crime.... but... I guess I just like the film ending for that "poetic" (there's that word again) justice angle of the wife of the victim carrying out her own little trial and then the final sentence. (Maybe I have seen to many crime shows..ha.)

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Re: "THE LETTER" (1940)

Postby moira finnie » May 1st, 2009, 3:01 pm

Rohanaka, how nice to see you! Thanks for dropping in. Our natives are friendly and happy to get to know you. Honest. :wink:

I think Leslie's living with her unloved husband would be a living hell for her and far worse for her husband, who had loved her deeply in his reticent way. It was a mercy to both of them and probably made Joe Breen smile to think of her character getting the knife in the moonlight. However, there were reportedly instrux from the PCA that Gale Sondergaard could not get away with her fitting revenge either---thus, we have the coppers showing up to nick the hands of justice before The End.
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Re: "THE LETTER" (1940)

Postby JackFavell » May 1st, 2009, 3:32 pm

Hey, Ladies! I'm completely torn! I think they are both great endings.

I love the way Maugham swings that line around to the very end to make his final point. It's beautiful to read, but it's not as cinematic.

The ending for the movie is a WOW!and just right for the movie. One case where Hollywood actually got it right.

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Re: "THE LETTER" (1940)

Postby rohanaka » May 1st, 2009, 9:16 pm

Our natives are friendly and happy to get to know you. Honest


Hello Ms Finnie.... I am happy to be here among the natives! ha. :)

living with her unloved husband would be a living hell for her and far worse for her husband, who had loved her deeply in his reticent way. It was a mercy to both of them and probably made Joe Breen smile to think of her character getting the knife in the moonlight. However, there were reportedly instrux from the PCA that Gale Sondergaard could not get away with her fitting revenge either---thus, we have the coppers showing up to nick the hands of justice before The End.


Kinda funny that they even had to censor the censored ending too....ha.

But I do agree... it would have been agony for both Leslie and her husband had she lived instead of died. Maybe she deserved THAT sort of punishment more afterall....ha. But at least w/ her gone... maybe now poor betrayed and put upon Crosbie can start over fresh... and move on with his life. (I like to think he ended up happy after a few years... ha. It was too hard NOT to like him... even if he might have been boring... he seemed like such a nice guy.)

PS... Jackie.... read the book and then watch the watch the last five minutes of the movie... and then y ou get to have BOTH endings... ha. (kindof like having chocolate AND vanilla on the same icecream cone!!) :D

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Re: "THE LETTER" (1940)

Postby feaito » May 2nd, 2009, 12:15 pm

I read all the posts from this thread again and I'm so pleased to realize the caliber of our members; such articulate analysis and interesting insight!

I remember reading somewhere that when this film was due to release on DVD, supposedly it was going to include the 1929 film version starring Jeanne Eagels, but it did not happen. It's sad because it'd be great to see one of Miss Eagels' few cinematic appearances and to compare her performance with Bette's, although I'm almost sure that Wyler's oeuvre is the definite masterpiece.

Thanks to Theresa's post and all the enlightening posts wrote in this thread, last night I watched this film again and I enjoyed it so much more, because I paid attention to certain details pointed out by you (i.e.: Davis' hands in the scene when she confesses the truth to Joyce).

In the DVD Edition, there's included an alternate ending, which differs from the official ending -from what I realized- in that there's no exchange between Bette and Herbert Marshall, in their bedroom, there's a scene in which Frieda Inescort asks her husband to go inside and see Marshall (who's drinking too much) and in that when Leslie goes out to her doom, she drops her knitting and when the film ends the camera goes back and focuses it before the fade-out.

feaito

Re: "THE LETTER" (1940)

Postby feaito » May 2nd, 2009, 12:32 pm

I realized that Cecil Kellaway is prominently displayed in the supporting cast, but he scarcely appears in the film, mostly during the party. His scenes were cut?

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Re: "THE LETTER" (1940)

Postby Lzcutter » May 2nd, 2009, 4:20 pm

So was Leslie hoping to be reunited in the great beyond with "the man she loved" or did he meet her, packing iron, and unload his gun?
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