Saturday, December 15, 2018

A Letter to Three Wives (1949) at UCLA: A Photo Gallery

Last night was a wonderful evening at UCLA: A showing of the classic A LETTER TO THREE WIVES (1949) in glorious black and white 35mm nitrate.

The screening was part of UCLA's ongoing Nitrate Treasures series. Earlier this year I saw COUNSELLOR AT LAW (1933) as part of the series, and in 2017 I was able to see both ROAD HOUSE (1948) and NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES (1948) in nitrate.

This screening of A LETTER TO THREE WIVES was particularly welcome as I had passed up a chance to see a digital print at this year's TCM Classic Film Festival, calculating that another film in that time slot, a 35mm showing of LOVE FINDS ANDY HARDY (1938), would be less likely to turn up again on a big screen in Los Angeles.

Not only did A LETTER TO THREE WIVES play in Los Angeles again only eight months later, but I lucked into a screening "upgrade" from digital to 35mm nitrate!

I reviewed A LETTER TO THREE WIVES in the early days of this blog, back in 2006, and though brief, my thoughts still stand. To elaborate on two points from that review:

*I'm a very big fan of Jeanne Crain, but her character never gets a chance to shine in this. Sure, we see her "graduate" to being part of the in crowd, outwardly represented by her acquiring a more fashionable wardrobe, but she's the "whiny girl" through almost the entire film.

I'm also curious about this still, as this scene, with Jeffrey Lynn as Crain's husband, doesn't appear in the film:

*Linda Darnell just blows me away in this movie. She was so beautiful that I don't think she ever quite got her due as an actress. A look at her credits shows quite an impressive listing of titles, and I believe she made great contributions to their success. Here she's tops in a fine ensemble.

It's particularly striking to me how Darnell and Paul Douglas bicker through the entire film, yet viewers can still feel the love and longing underneath. I came across a piece by MichaƂ Oleszczyk at Roger which describes it well: "...the way Darnell and Douglas play their parts - as two people exhausted with mutual hostility and secretly craving armistice (but too proud to ask for it) - makes the viewer realize how much affection there really is between them."

I've put together a gallery of images from this film, which was written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and filmed by Arthur Miller. The photos, which also feature costars Ann Sothern, Kirk Douglas, Thelma Ritter, Connie Gilchrist, and Barbara Lawrence, are sure to conjure up happy viewing memories for any fellow classic film fans who also love this movie.

A LETTER TO THREE WIVES is available on DVD in the Fox Studio Classics Series, and it's also had a release on Blu-ray. It was released on VHS in 1996.

Highly recommended.


Blogger Vienna said...

I do so agree about Linda Darnell being so good. I recently saw No Way Out for the first time and she is excellent in that. Love your photos. A film you can watch again and again.

12:51 AM  
Blogger mel said...

It reminded me of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony...

Great to see Florence Bates, though.

10:32 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Vienna, I haven't seen NO WAY OUT yet and look forward to it! I'm glad you enjoyed the movies!

Mel, there was some discussion before the film about the possibly ambiguous/abrupt ending -- not to mention that the story was cut down from five wives in the original book, to a script with four, and then the final three!

Best wishes,

10:25 PM  
Blogger Juanita's Journal said...

I didn't mind that the number of wives was cut down from five to three. But I did mind the lack of resolution regarding the Jeannie Crain/Jeffrey Lynn relationship. So what happened in the end?

7:10 AM  

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