The Letter 1940 PG
3.00PM Sun 18 Feb 2018
GOMA | Cinema A | Free
On a humid Singapore night Leslie Crosbie (Bette Davis), the wife of a British rubber planter, shoots and kills a man on the front steps of her plantation home. When the police arrive they are surprised to see the victim is a respected member of the expatriate community. When Leslie declares self-defence in the face of unwanted sexual advances, her devoted husband (Herbert Marshall) convinces family friend and attorney Howard Joyce (James Stephenson) to defend her in court. When Joyce's clerk Ong Chi Seng (Victor Sen Yung) tells him of an incriminating letter written by the defendant to the dead man, Joyce begins to question Leslie's account of events.
Directed by William Wyler and adapted by Howard Koch from W Somerset Maugham's 1927 play, The Letter is a tightly conceived film noir which touches on issues of colonialism, race, class, adultery, deceit and murder. Bette Davis is captivating as a complex woman hiding behind the domestic persona of a dutiful wife, one known for her fine needlework and English poise. William Wyler's deft direction conveying tensions seething beneath its rural tedium, the ominous score by Max Steiner and expressive cinematography by Tony Gaudio successfully transforming the Warner Brothers Studio in California into tropical Malaysia.
35MM, BLACK AND WHITE, MONO, 95 MINUTES, UNITED STATES, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: WILLIAM WYLER / SCRIPT: HOWARD E KOCH / BASED ON THE 1927 PLAY OF THE SAME NAME BY W SOMERSET MAUGHAM / CINEMATOGRAPHER: TONY GAUDIO / EDITORS: GEORGE AMY, WARREN LOW / CAST: BETTE DAVIS, HERBERT MARSHALL, JAMES STEPHENSON / PRODUCTION COMPANY: WARNER BROS / PRINT SOURCE: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS / RIGHTS: PARK CIRCUS