Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tonight's Movie: A Letter for Evie (1946)

Lonely Evie O'Connor (Marsha Hunt), a secretary at a uniform factory during World War II, impulsively puts a letter to a soldier in the pocket of an outgoing uniform. She's delighted to receive a reply from Johnny McPherson (Hume Cronyn), who seems to be a kindred spirit. There's only one little problem -- insecure Johnny sends Evie a photo of his friend, Edgar "Wolf" Larson (John Carroll), rather than himself. When Johnny and Wolf have a couple days' leave in New York and meet Evie, naturally complications ensue.

The film is somewhat unusual in that neither of the two leading men are wholly honorable. Wolf is, well, a "wolf" -- a ladies' man careless of women's feelings, without much hope of reforming. And Johnny, while overall the better man, has deceived Evie. It's unclear for quite some time into the movie whether MGM's higher-billed wartime Gable backup, Carroll, or the less striking, lower-billed Cronyn will win Evie's hand. The resolution was somewhat unexpected and very satisfying.

Marsha Hunt is delightful, as always. The actress, who turned 90 last fall, is still going strong. She'll be appearing at the Noir City Film Festival in San Francisco this Saturday, January 26th, when her new short film THE GRAND INQUISITOR premieres.

Norman Lloyd, recently discussed here in my post on SABOTEUR, has a few scenes as Evie's boss. MGM musical fans will recognize Pamela Britton, who plays Evie's roommate, as the Girl From Brooklyn in ANCHORS AWEIGH. Wonderful Spring Byington has just one scene in the film, but she provides a key turning point in the plot.

A LETTER FOR EVIE was directed by Jules Dassin, who directed this film during his brief stint at MGM before moving on to direct darker fare elsewhere, including BRUTE FORCE, THE NAKED CITY, and NIGHT AND THE CITY. He was married for decades to actress Melina Mercouri. For more on Dassin, see my review of another film in which Dassin directed Marsha Hunt, THE AFFAIRS OF MARTHA, which includes a link to a profile on the director.

A LETTER FOR EVIE runs 89 minutes and was shot in black and white.

This movie isn't available on either DVD or VHS. Click here if you'd like to request Turner Classic Movies add the movie to its schedule.

The trailer is here.


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