Film / A Letter to Three Wives

"It's a man's world. Yeah! See something you want, go after it and get it! That's nature. It's why we're made strong and women weak. Strong conquer and provide for the weak. That's what a man's for! Teach our kids that, there'd be more men!"
Porter Hollingsway

A 1949 film adapted from the novel Letter to Five Wives by John Klempner. Three women — Lora Mae (Linda Darnell), Rita (Ann Sothern), and Deborah (Jeanne Crain) — receive a letter from a friend telling that she's run-off with one of their husbands. The thing is that she's not telling whose husband it is; she's letting them guess for themselves. Won Oscars for Best Director and Best Screenplay (both for Joseph L. Mankiewicz), and was nominated for Best Picture.

Kirk Douglas, relatively early in his film career, has a supporting role as one of the husbands.

This film has examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: This was based on the novel Letter to Five Wives. Two wives were taken out, one at the start, the other after the first draft, in order to help tighten the film.
  • The Atoner: 'A man can change his mind, can he?'
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Lora Mae and Porter at the end.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Addie Ross. Whether they were ever in love with her or not, all 3 husbands think Addie is simply wonderful. She knows this. Which is why she didn't say which husband she ran off with, knowing it will torment all three wives equally.
  • Foreshadowing: A subtle one, at the start, the 3 wives' initial reaction to the letter before it's open.
    Lora Mae: Open it up. note 
    Deborah: No, wait...Knowing it's Addie, I mean, why let her spoil our day? note 
    Rita: Not my day. Addie Ross never saw the day she could spoil my day. note 
  • Happily Married: Wondering just how "happily married" the 3 wives are is the whole point of the movie.
    • Deborah desperately hopes that she and Brad are this. They are.
    • What Rita and George are most of the time. Except they did have that nasty fight just the night before... They get better.
    • What Lora Mae and Porter are most definitely not. Until the end.
  • Henpecked Husband: None of the 3 main husbands, but the ironically named Mr. Manleigh.
  • How We Got Here: The three wives reminisce on their lives as they try to figure out whose husband was the one.
  • Moral Guardians: The Manleighs.
  • The Perry Mason Method: An out of court variant. Deborah accuses her husband, Brad, of being the errant man, prompting the real culprit, Porter, Lora Mae's husband, to confess.
  • Pretty in Mink: Deborah has a sable coat, and Lora has a white mink wrap.
  • Stylistic Suck: The radio commercials and soap operas (two apiece) are all hilariously awful.
  • Take That!: An In-Universe example where George goes off about how what he thinks is wrong with advertising.
  • The Unfair Sex: Averted; the film has us sympathize with both the men and the women.
  • Viewers Are Morons: George goes on a rant about how advertising treats customers like this.
  • The Voice: Addie Ross, the author of the titular letter.