A Letter to Three Wives (1949)
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In this film, three wives each receive a letter, written by a mutual friend named Addie, informing her that Addie is about to run off with one of their husbands. In flashback, each wife wonders if it is her marriage that is in jeopardy.
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Critic Reviews for A Letter to Three Wives
Despite its emotional intensity, the film is comic, effervescently so, and its magical ending lends wit a metaphysical dimension.
Mankiewicz's writing is bright and hard -- he's sharpening his teeth for All About Eve, made the next year -- but his acid wit is almost too much for his fragile characters to bear.
There's a lot more focus on the development of the women while the men in their lives are really just window dressing. It's this angle that makes the film most intriguing.
Writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz's riveting melodrama is set up like a whodunit, only instead of a murderer, the guilty party is a philandering husband.
If this were a comedy it might be considered a comedy of manners, because it's all about the social customs of an age-and all the actors do a fine job of bringing the age's nuances to their characters.
"A Letter to Three Wives" remains a very poignant and universal story today, giving you the feeling that it could take place anytime and anywhere. Of course, it also helps that it's just a good old fashioned and entertaining experience.
Mankiewicz's plot device is brilliant and intriguing: On the way to an annual picnic, three housewives learn through a letter that the town's most desirable woman had run off with one of their husbands--flashbacks reveal the state of their marriages.
Star-loaded film with innovative plot.
Much of what makes All About Eve such a brilliant film was used previously (and to good effect) in A Letter to Three Wives.
Sharp and bright multi-character film from Mankiewicaz at his best.
Audience Reviews for A Letter to Three Wives
This movie is both dramatic and suspenseful, while telling four different stories, and I liked the ending too. This is a good movie.More
My favorite Linda Darnell film. It's hard to stand out in a cast that includes such greats as Kirk Douglas, Ann Sothern and Jeanne Crain but she still manages to shine.More
I'd forgotten what a great movie this is! Celeste Holm narrates as Addie Ross, the unseen but effortlessly superior friend of three women (Jeanne Crain, Ann Sothern and Linda Darnell), one of whose husbands Addie claims, in a mischievous letter, to have run off with. But whose husband does she mean?!?! Each adores Addie, and each seems to be acting strangely... Moving to flashback, one for each wife in turn, we see the women quietly upstaged in their domestic bliss by their infuriatingly perfect girlfriend. Linda Darnell stands out from the excellent cast, probably because she gets most of the best lines, but Ann Sothern is just as good. It's nice to see Kirk Douglas taking his place in the ensemble for a change, instead of selfishly chewing the scenery; even when he does explode, in a rant against radio advertising, he does so with relative restraint and his performance is the better for it. Thelma Ritter plays that same part she always plays. As you would expect with Mankiewicz, there's some wonderfully sophisticated dialogue. Celeste Holm's sweetly malicious voiceover, though brief, must qualify as one of cinema's greatest.More
"a letter to three wives" is a dialogue-driven psychological drama by joseph l. mankiewicz who contributes to the legendary bette davis classic "all about eve"....an estrogenic piece which is highly empathetic with female audience.
the story whirls around a striking socialite named addie ross who writes a note to her three best friends in the town that she's gonna elope with one of their husbands....and that leads to the flashbacks of these three women's private jealous animosity and weakening apprehensions that their spouses all seem to have a deep crush on addie....so exactly whose husband becomes the prey of addie's feminine magnetism?
to anchor the mystic charm of addie ross who is also the narrator, she remains abscent through the whole flick, and audience picture her poises of grace thru the three women's bitter reactions just as hitchcock's rebecca never reveals herself...now we witness the typical gender interactions of three housholds. jeanne crain's being self-abased by her rural upbringing, and her fear of being lacklustered by addie ross....ann sothern's mercenery irreconcilbility with her idealistic husband kirk douglas since she's much less thoughtful and refined by taste than the witty addie ross...then the sultry linda darnell with an awareness of her slum-bred background, aspiring to marry her wealthy boss by playing titilating "hard-to-get", still assured as darnell, she's being emulated by the addie ross with class her husband values.
most women share a sort of envious intimidation from their so called "the beautiful friend" whom they criticize behind or gossip about with sour sarcasm when it comes to any female's living experiences, especially your significant the other keeps praising upon that fair confidante of yours, then a sense of vulnerability strikes since you're too infatuated with the man but too stubborn to admit.
linda darnell's tale is most riveting with her lofty glamour as the ragged woman with pride, and thelma ritter plays the wise-cracking maid with an acid tongue. ritter, along with younger fresher kirk douglas, is the scene-stealer who has the "it" to grapple a smirk from the audience.
"a letter to three wives" is mankiewicz's another success examplification that dialogues and sheer performances make the feature work.
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