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A Letter to Three Wives

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Overview

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 professorial spouse Kirk ...
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Overview

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 professorial spouse Kirk Douglas; and Lora May Darnell, a girl from literally the wrong side of the tracks, questions the security of her marriage to a brash business executive Paul Douglas. The voice of Addie, who is never seen, is provided by Celeste Holm. Thelma Ritter shows up in a hilarious unbilled bit as a slatternly domestic, while an equally uncredited Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer makes a quick entrance and exit as a bellhop. Written with perception and not a little witty condescension by director Joseph L. Mankiewicz, A Letter to Three Wives won two Oscars ,both for Mankiewicz. Based on a novel by John Klempner, the property was remade for television in 1985, with Ann Sothern back again in a supporting part.
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Special Features

Commentary with Kenneth Geist, Cheryl Lower and Christopher Mankiewicz; Linda Darnell: Hollywood's Fallen Angel as seen on Biography on the A&E network; Fox Movietone News: Oscar presentations
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
This 1949 drama is a superb example of the glossy entertainment that big Hollywood studios once turned out effortlessly, without enormous budgets or media hype to make it “important.” Written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz All About Eve, it centers on three housewives in Westchester, New York, each jealous of the soulless she-wolf who grew up with their respective husbands. The vicious temptress writes a letter to all three wives played by Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell, and Ann Sothern, claiming to have run off with one of the husbands but refusing to say which one. The suspense is unbearable, not only for the wives but also for the film’s viewers, who get the chance to figure out which hubby is most susceptible, based on flashbacks involving all three couples. Mankiewicz, wisely, never shows the Other Woman, but her voice reading the letter is that of Celeste Holm. A young Kirk Douglas is memorable as the sober-minded professor of literature embarrassed by Sothern’s writing of soap operas. Stage actor Paul Douglas no relation makes a strong feature-film debut as the blustery, not-too-bright tycoon married to Darnell. The three female leads are terrific, with the often-underrated Crain turning in a surprisingly affecting performance. Script, direction, acting, and production mounting -- much of the movie was shot on location in New York -- are all top-drawer. This is one of those films that always elicit remarks like, “They don’t make ‘em like that anymore.” And indeed, they don’t.
All Movie Guide - Dan Jardine
The wickedly clever premise of A Letter to Three Wives is a brilliant jumping-off point for a clever and astute screenplay. The film's three different but equally troubled marriages offer an insightful glimpse into the gender politics, rotting class distinctions, and social mores of America in the mid-20th century. Unlike many filmic depictions of women of this era, the three leads in A Letter to Three Wives are not stereotyped or pigeon-holed. Each one is independent and strong, despite nagging doubts about the strength of her marriage. Joseph L. Mankiewicz's script goes right for the throat of middle-class suburban values via some very sympathetic characters; if the mix is occasionally uncomfortable (the characters are a bit too likeable to be skewered so harshly), the aim is straight and true. The stars play no small part in the film's success, especially Ann Sothern's poised performance as the ambitious writer for radio programs and Linda Darnell as the rough, self-doubting girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Visually, the film adds little to the art of cinema, but Mankiewicz's writing is a wonder. The following year, he wrote and directed the legendary All About Eve, leading to an unprecedented Academy Award record: Mankiewicz won Best Director and Best Screenplay for both movies, in consecutive years.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/17/2013
  • UPC: 024543873105
  • Original Release: 1949
  • Rating:

  • Source: 20Th Century Fox
  • Region Code: A
  • Presentation: Subtitled / Full Frame
  • Sound: DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound
  • Time: 1:43:00
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Sales rank: 7,373

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jeanne Crain Deborah Bishop
Linda Darnell Lora May Hollingsway
Ann Sothern Rita Phipps
Kirk Douglas George Phipps
Paul Douglas Porter Hollingsway
Barbara Lawrence Babe
Jeffrey Lynn Brad Bishop
Connie Gilchrist Mrs. Finney
Florence Bates Mrs. Manleigh
Hobart Cavanaugh Mr. Manleigh
Patti Brady Kathleen
Ruth Vivian Miss Hawkins
Thelma Ritter Sadie
Stuart Holmes Old Man
George Offerman Nick
Ralph Brooks Character
James Adamson Butler
Joe Bautista Thomasino
John Davidson Waiter
Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer Messenger
Sam Finn Waiter
Ted Offenbecker Nick
Celeste Holm Voice Only
Technical Credits
Joseph L. Mankiewicz Director, Screenwriter
Vera Caspary Screenwriter
Gaston Glass Asst. Director
Roger Heman Sound/Sound Designer
Arthur L. Kirbach Sound/Sound Designer
Thomas K. Little Set Decoration/Design
Arthur C. Miller Cinematographer
Kay Nelson Costumes/Costume Designer
Alfred Newman Score Composer, Musical Direction/Supervision
Ben Nye Sr. Makeup
Walter Scott Set Decoration/Design
Fred Sersen Special Effects
Sol C. Siegel Producer
Russell J. Spencer Art Director
J. Watson Webb Jr. Editor
Lyle Wheeler Art Director
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(4)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

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1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Amazing

    The dialogue is the best part, but then so are the actors... and everything else about this movie! WATCH THIS MOVIE because it's as good as it sounds!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Letter to Three Wives

    It's a great movie. You learn to not take your relationships for granted. It describes the time, late 1930's-early1940's, so well. It is very witty which most movies these days are missing.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A reviewer

    This movie is very engaging with wonderful performances. The story is great and full of witty dialogue and it keeps you guessing all the way to the end.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews