The Letter (1940) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Letter (1940)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Letter Photos

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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Bette Davis
as Leslie Crosbie
Herbert Marshall
as Robert Crosbie
James Stephenson
as Howard Joyce
Gale Sondergaard
as Mrs. Hammond
Frieda Inescort
as Dorothy Joyce
Bruce Lester
as John Withers
Elizabeth Earl
as Adele Ainsworth
Elizabeth Inglis
as Adele Ainsworth
Victor Sen Yung
as Ong Chi Seng
Doris Lloyd
as Mrs. Cooper
Willie Fung
as Chung Hi
Tetsu Komai
as Head Boy
Charles Irwin
as Bob's Friend
Bruce Lister
as John Withers
Holmes Herbert
as Bob's Friend
Douglas Walton
as Well-Wisher
David Newell
as Geoffrey Hammond
Otto Hahn
as Bartender at Party
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Critic Reviews for The Letter

All Critics (9)

Prime Bette Davis featuring a memorable shooting in the opening.

March 14, 2009 | Rating: 5/5

The second and best version of Maugham's noirish tale of adultery and murder is emarked by Wyler's nunaced mis-en-scene, Gaudio's lensing, and superlative acting of Bette Davis (surprisingly restrained), Herbert Marshall and especially James Stephenson.

January 8, 2008 | Rating: A | Full Review…

even a bad Davis movie where she's hamming and mugging and even humiliating herself is more fun than practically no Bette at all.

June 13, 2005 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

If there is any doubt that Bette Davis is the star of this film, high above all others, it is vanquished by William Wyler's careful framing of her in every shot.

January 14, 2005 | Full Review…

First-class cinema.

December 31, 2004 | Rating: A | Full Review…

The Letter (1940) is a classic melodramatic film noir of murder and deceit, directed by William Wyler. The screenplay by Howard Koch

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Letter


A slightly predictable story of blackmail and murder involving Bette Davis. Pretty good movie, but it could be more exciting.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer


What a powerful performance by Miss Davis in a very unflattering role. All the elements are present for a great motion picture (casting, direction & screenplay) and The Letter delivers in spades

Of note is the presence of Gale Sondergaard as the silent but ominous Malaysian widow who speaks volumes without ever uttering a word. Yes, this is the same Gale Sondergaard who was originally cast as the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz before (thankfully) turning the role over to the talents of Margaret Hamilton. Sondergaard's appearance might seem stereotypical and offensive today, but there's no denying her screen presence. Simply brilliant.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

maybe the best of ms. davis' many fine performances. and one of the best opening scenes ever.

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

The Letter Quotes

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