- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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Jeanne Eagels gives a terrific performance in The Letter. Eagel's Leslie Crosbie starts out as a seemingly devoted wife. But soon Eagels convincingly portrays a desperate woman trying to hold unto her lover. Eagels is animalistic and brutal as she shoots her former lover Geoff Hammond. But in the next scene her voice and demeanor becomes angelic as she testifies at her hearing. In the last scene Eagels is electrifying. Its easy to see why Jeanne Eagels was such an acclaimed actress.
Odd man out
After reading such glowing reviews I figure it must be me, but I thought Eagels was pretty bad throughout most of the movie, especially in the less than dramatic courtroom testimony scene. The movie was enjoyable but JE simply didn't live up to the hype - her jittery movements, bad hair and odd speech pattern were distracting. No doubt the academy award nomination was because she died shortly after the film release - a typical response the academy continues even today.
An Interesting Version
- disinterested spectator
Although the version with Betty Davis as Leslie Crosbie is superior, this one with Jeanne Eagles is worth watching, primitive though it may be in filmmaking technique. In the later film, with Davis as Leslie, she is killed at the end of the movie as punishment for adultery and murder, by the Chinese woman from who she bought the letter she had written. We might blame the Production Code for this melodramatic punishment, but it was repeated, at least in implication, in 1982 in the version with Lee Remick. This was not in the original play, in which Leslie intends to try to make her husband happy and hopes he will forgive her, even though she does not love him. The 1929 version with Eagles, however, gets the award for having the most unpunished and unrepentant Leslie. The husband says Leslie will have to stay with him and continue to be bored and lonely, and she responds by saying she still loves the man she killed with all her heart. Also, in the Eagles version, when Leslie goes to get the letter, there is a disturbing scene where prostitutes are kept imprisoned behind bamboo bars. Finally, this version is the most racist of them all in its depiction of Asians.
Please Re-Air "The Letter" 1929
I have been looking forward to seeing Jeanne Eagels' interpretation of "The Letter", and had programed my DVR to record the showing you aired on October 24, 2012. Unfortunately the machine malfunctioned and nothing was recorded.I would appreciate your scheduling another airing of it soon. One of my favorite actresses, Bette Davis gave an unforgettable oscar nominated performance in her role as Leslie Cosbie in a later film version of this story. I should very much like to see Jeanne Eagels own oscar nominated interpretation.Thank you in advance for entertaining my request.Henriette
I saw a work print of this a year or two ago, and foudn that WB has the rights to this movie, yet, they aren't putting it out on DVD? I saw clips of the film on youtube, a couple of months ago, but WB has had those taken down? If they're not going to make it available to the viewing public for purchase, what's the harm in letting those whom have never had the chance to see a few clips? It is a much better presentation than the remake, in the sense, that it could do more, due to being before the enforcement of the code. I thought Jeanne Eagels' performance was great, too bad she passed so young, and the few films she made are lost or not being released by the films' studios. I wish the studios would put more of these difficult movies onto dvd for those of us whom truly do love silent and early film. Not everyone likes blockbusters, only.
Eagles is Incredible
Jeanne Eagles, in her Oscar nominated role, plays Leslie Crosbie in direct contrast to Bette Davis's more famous interpretation. Where Davis's Leslie is cool, Eagles' is nervy and fidgety. Yet, you can see in this actress the qualities that Davis would make famous beginning in the thirties. I wonder whether Bette ever saw this film. Eagles' revelation of the truth to her husband at the end of the film remains an excellent example of fine screen acting. A bit of trivia: Herbert Marshall, Davis's husband in the 1940 version, plays Leslie's lover here.