Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Letter

There were several film versions of The Letter which was adapted from the play by W. Somerset Maugham. The play was adapted from a short story by Maugham and opened in New York in 1927.

The story involves adultery, murder, and revenge. The setting is a rubber plantation in the East Indies. The film opens with the murder of Geoffrey Hammond by Leslie Crosbie, the wife of the British rubber planter. She claims she shot him in defense of her honor but her story is questioned in light of an incrementing letter.

In 1929, Jean De Limur directed Jeanne Eagels in the lead role. Eagels, who died suddenly at the age of 39 shortly after completing this film, was posthumously nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. In 1931, Paramount released Spanish, German, French and Italian -language versions. 
Warner Brothers released a film version in 1940 which was directed by William Wyler and starred Bette Davis as Leslie Crosbie. Herbert Marshall, who had played Geoffrey in the 1929 film, was cast as Robert Crosbie with Gale Sondergaard playing Mrs. Hammond. Howard Koch wrote the screenplay. The film, nominated for 7 Academy Awards, was described as "a superbly crafted melodrama."

Warner Brothers made another version in 1947, called The Unfaithful, starring Ann Sheridan. 

Check out the DVDs from Butler Media. 

The Letter (1929) -- DVD24465
The Letter (1940) --  DVD10505