March 22nd, 2015

A Letter to Three Wives...

~Friday~  I watched A Letter to Three Wives this evening. Bob owns this movie, recently watched it, and told me about it. I thought the premise sounded intriguing, and in spite of not being a big fan of movies from an era gone by, I decided to check it out.

The synopsis

Three wives receive a letter, written by a mutual friend named Addie, informing them that she is about to run off with one of their husbands. In flashback, each wife wonders if it is her marriage that is in jeopardy.

The trailer

My thoughts and observations

  • I enjoyed this movie in spite of its melodrama, which at times approached the point of camp.

  • It was interesting seeing Kirk Douglas as a young actor. I never have before, or if I have, I don't remember it. I actually thought he was a little goofy, although I do believe it was more attributable to his character, as opposed to his acting. Let's hope so.

  • Themes touched on in this movie included:

    • Friendship—particularly among women who are friends

    • Passion in marriage

    • Attraction and attractiveness

    • Social class

    • Wife as breadwinner

  • Two unexpected things particularly endeared me to this movie:

    • Addie writes a note to George on his birthday, which concludes with, "If music be the food of love, play on." Hearing that triggered my playing Duke Orsino 40 years ago in our high school production of Twelfth Night, and I immediately went on aloud, "Give me excess of it; that surfeiting, The appetite may sicken, and so die. That strain again, it had a dying fall. O, it came o'er my ear like the sweet sound, That breathes upon a bank of violets, Stealing and giving odor!"

    • In that same scene, a package accompanies the birthday card, which turns out to be a recording of Brahms Piano concerto N° 2, one of my all-time favorite classical pieces.

  • I mentioned social class as one of the themes explored in this movie, and it was fairly pervasive. These several relationships were a part of that exploration:

    • Between Deborah Bishop ("country" girl) and her husband Brad Bishop ("worldly" man)

    • Between Rita Phipps (radio personality, breadwinner) and her husband George Phipps (school teacher)

    • Between the Phipps as a couple and Rita's radio executive colleagues

    • Between Lora Mae Hollingsway (administrative assistant) and her husband Porter Hollingsway (business owner)

    • Perhaps this strongest demonstration of classism, presumably presented as social satire, was the long scene with the Phipps preparing to receive Rita's radio executive bosses for an evening soiree.

  • I mentioned the melodrama in this movie. A few scenes come to mind with regards to that:

    • The Deborah Bishop character, particularly at the very beginning of the movie, throwing herself about on a chair and on a bed to exclaim her distress at being unsophisticated in comparison to the rest of the group.

    • The number of times they showed it, and the amount of shaking of everything in the Finney's home as a train sped by on a nearby train track. I mean, you can understand the glassware and the canned goods rattling, and the refrigerator door consistently opening, but come on, even the people sitting down, or in an embrace, shook.

  • I thought the voiceover narrator, Addie, and never showing her at all, worked well.

  • I gave this movie one-and-a-half thumbs up. For me at least, it was more than one, but not quite up to two.

Have you seen this movie? If so, what did you think of it?