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

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Jeanne Eagels is obsessed with Herbert Marshall
THE LETTER (1929). Director: Jean de Limur. Screenplay by Somerset Maugham, from his story.

"Your whole life is wrapped up in rubber!"

In this early sound film, the famous Jeanne Eagels plays the role later essayed by Bette Davis, the bored wife on the rubber plantation who shoots her lover again and again when he tries to leave her. Although not as good as William Wyler's remake, this is a creditable and interesting picture, with good performances. Eagels perhaps underplays too much in her courtroom scene, but she gets better, and certainly works herself up into an impressive lather when she finally tells her husband (Reginald Owen) what she really thinks of him. Herbert Marshall played the husband in the remake, but in this he's the lover, who has a good scene at the opening [which is not recreated in the Wyler version]. Lady Tsen Mei plays Li Ti, the role essayed by Gale Sondergaard in the remake, and O. P. Heggie is the lawyer. The production code not being in place in 1929, this picture has a less, shall we say, conclusive ending. The whole story is a twisted anti-romance. Kim Novak played the actress in the biopic Jeanne Eagels.

Verdict: A great opportunity to see the famous Eagels on film. ***.

No comments: