The Letter

Critics Consensus

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100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 9

83%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,704
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Movie Info

Based on a novel by W. Somerset Maugham, William Wyler's drama stars Bette Davis as Leslie Crosbie, the malevolent wife of a Malaysian rubber magnate (Herbert Marshall) who is accused of murdering her lover and attempting to cover up the crime.

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Critic Reviews for The Letter

All Critics (9)

Audience Reviews for The Letter

  • Nov 25, 2013
    Another sizzler from Bette Davis. Presumably this version trumps the '29 version which I am still trying to see. Davis the nasty is in her prime dealing with murder, blackmail and a great storyline.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 05, 2010
    A slightly predictable story of blackmail and murder involving Bette Davis. Pretty good movie, but it could be more exciting.
    Aj V Super Reviewer
  • Jan 02, 2010
    THE LETTER (1940) Directed by William Wyler. Based on the story by Somerset Maugham. This spellbinding film is set in British-occupied Singapore & stars Bette Davis as the vengeful, spurned wife of a plantation owner who murders her lover in a fit of rage one hot & steamy night after he has told her that their affair is over. He has married a "native" girl & no longer loves her. This slap in the face is more than she can bear & she writes to him begging him to visit that night so that they can discuss the situation. Little does he suspect that she has other plans in mind..... She shoots him to death in the gardens, coldly emptying all six rounds into his lifeless corpse. The crime is quickly discovered after all the commotion & she accuses him of having "tried to make love to me. Oh, it was horrible!" &, of course, all her fellow Britishers agree that it was the only possible action any lady "plucky enough" could have taken. The plot thickens fairly quickly, however, with the discovery of a love letter written & sent that day by Ms Davis to the deceased. This incriminating evidence is now in the possession of his "native" wife. It is a tribute to Ms Davis' consummate ability as an actor that she manages to make such an unsympathetic character so appealing. One really feels her anguish & grief as she struggles to retain her 'stiff upper lip' in court & when alone with her husband. Superbly written, filmed & directed, this moody, atmospheric offering is classic Hollywood melodrama at it finest. The original trailer for the film contains My Favourite Line : "A LADY BY DAY .... A TIGRESS BY NIGHT!" *****5 out of 5 stars*****
    mirabella 1 Super Reviewer
  • Oct 11, 2009
    Very atmospheric film where the cast is led by Bette Davis, who gives a vivid performance in the kind of role that she seemed born to play. A good noir film.
    John M Super Reviewer

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