A Letter to Three Wives (1949)
Average Rating: 8.2/10
Reviews Counted: 14
Fresh: 13 | Rotten: 1
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Critic Reviews: 1
Fresh: 1 | Rotten: 0
Average Rating: 3.8/5
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Three wives, played by Jeanne Crain, Ann Sothern and Linda Darnell, are about to embark on a boat trip when each receives 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. Deborah (Crain) recounts her fish-out-of-water relationship with her up-and-coming hubby (Jeffrey Lynn); businesswoman Rita (Sothern) asks herself if she's been too rough on her
Jan 20, 1949 Wide
Feb 22, 2005
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Lora May Hollingsway
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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.
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.
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