Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


A LETTER TO THREE WIVES (1949). Writer/Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

An unseen woman (voiced by Celeste Holm), Addie Ross, sends a letter to three different women telling them that she's run off with one of their husbands. This extremely interesting comedy-drama is one of those infrequent pictures that somehow has more to it than meets the eye, even though it's neither a major drama nor a side-splitting comedy. Somehow it call comes together beautifully (despite some missteps and superficial, sitcom-like aspects); the fine acting from the entire cast really helps put it over. Jeanne Crain, who worries that she's plain and awkward, remembers that her husband gave Addie her first kiss. Ann Sothern recalls that Addie remembered her husband Kirk Douglas' birthday when she did not. And snappy Linda Darnell, in perhaps her most memorable performance, wonders if her rich husband and former boss (Paul Douglas) ran off with Addie because he thinks she, Darnell, only wants him for his money. The Darnell/Douglas section of the story is the best and most amusing. One might wonder why someone as “wonderful” as Addie Ross didn't marry one of those three men, or someone else, long before.

Verdict: Very entertaining stuff. ***.


Daniel Lourenço said...

I don't think marriage would in any way validate Ross's character; the fact that she's a free agent is surely the entire point - her very image as the femme (almost) fatale practically nullifies the relevance of marriage as applied to her. I doubt that it relevantly undercuts the character's charm - though the film may, indeed, be read as promoting marriage as superior, if taking in consideration that one powerful, borderline evil-mystic move, of Mae, absent as ever, somehow breaking the glass the viewer is looking at as a final shot.

William said...

Thanks for your very interesting comments!