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427 Ratings

The Letter

Directed by William Wyler
United States, 1940
Drama, Crime, Film noir


The wife of a rubber plantation administrator shoots a man to death and claims it was self-defense. Her poise, graciousness and stoicism impress nearly everyone who meets her. Her husband is certainly without doubt; so is the district officer; while her lawyer’s doubts may be a natural skepticism.

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The Letter Directed by William Wyler

Awards & Festivals

Academy Awards

1941 | 7 nominations including: Best Picture

New York Film Critics Circle Awards

1940 | 2nd place: Best Director

1940 | 3rd place: Best Actor

Critics reviews

It was [Davis and Wyler’s] second film together that drew Davis’s best work, indeed possibly the high-water mark of her career. . . The script began abruptly, with the scene of Leslie stalking out on a tropical veranda and impassively pumping a man full of lead. It was Wyler’s idea to foreshadow the film’s entire tragedy with his camera’s long, sinuous prowl through the sleeping Malaysian rubber plantation, and it is that buildup to the murder that gives the opening its unforgettable power.
December 01, 2017
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The punchline – Bette Davis reeling back from the kiss, as if repulsed, then snapping forward like a snake, a half-beat to steady herself then: “With all my heart, I still love the man I killed!” – went through me like an electric shock on second viewing.
March 24, 2015
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