The Letter (1929)
The Letter (1929)
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The Letter was the first film version of the Somerset Maugham play of the same name. Broadway star Jeanne Eagels plays the wife of Reginald Owen, the owner of a Malayan rubber plantation. The film opens with Eagels shooting a man (Herbert Marshall) to death; she explains that the man had tried to assault her. It is assumed that the subsequent trial will go well for Eagels, who has the advantage of wealth and social position. But Eagels' lawyer (O.P. Heggie) learns of the existence of a letter sent to the dead man in which Eagels declares her undying love--thereby proving that the killing was not justified. At great personal expense, the lawyer buys back the letter from the dead man's wife, a grim native woman. Only after Eagels is found not guilty does she reveal her indiscretion to her husband. She tries to convince him that she will be a faithful wife in the future, but suddenly pulls back and violently declares "With all my heart--I still love the man I killed!" The Letter was remade in 1940 (with considerable censorial alterations) starring Bette Davis as the murderess and Herbert Marshall--the victim in the 1929 version--as her cuckolded husband. … More
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Critic Reviews for The Letter
Jeanne Eagels received Oscar nomination for playing the leading part in this early, primitive talkie, based on Somerset Maugham's play; Bette Davis played the part in 1940.
... a revelation of a performance and an illustration of the challenges filmmakers faced in the early sound era.
Jeanne Eagels' performance in The Letter secures her legendary reputation.
Audience Reviews for The Letter
Eagels only existing sound film shows her to be a unique talent well equipped to make her characters live on screen with a minimum of overblown stage theatrics common to early sound films. Similar to the more renown Bette Davis version but with some content that would never have passed the censor board after the code went into effect. The last scene is riveting.
the first telling of this tale from paramount, skip this and see the 1940 bette davis version-its far superior
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