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Film / Love Letters

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Love Letters (1945) is Melodrama/mystery film directed by William Dieterle, starring Joseph Cotten and Jennifer Jones, and featuring a screenplay by, believe it or not, Ayn Rand.

British soldier Allen Quinton (Cotten), has been writing love letters to a woman named Victoria on behalf of Roger Morland (Robert Sully), who doesn't really care about the poor girl. Allen falls in love with Victoria through her letters but decides to stop writing to her, never revealing the truth.

Back in England, Allen finds out that Roger has died in an accident. Depressed by the news that Victoria has also died, he goes to a party where he meets Dilly (Ann Richards). Through some excessive drinking, Allen tells his misfortunes to Dilly, who cryptically tells him she knows the whole story herself: Roger's death was no accident but a murder. At this party, he also meets a beautiful girl called only Singleton (Jones), but he doesn’t notice her much.

Later, Allen finds Singleton in Dilly’s apartment and is interested in her for her vivaciousness and her amnesia that affects her life greatly. Once Singleton leaves, Dilly explains to Allen that Singleton IS Victoria Morland. She married Roger Morland but murdered him when she found out the truth about the love letters. The problem is that from the moment the murder happened Victoria has become completely amnesic: forgetting her identity, her marriage, her aunt Beatrice (Gladys Cooper), and those lovely love letters.

Determined to be with Singleton even if he’s the one who played a part in her ruin, Allen and Singleton live happily until her memories start to creep back.

Victor Young composed the moving theme for this film.

Love Letters demonstrates the following tropes:

  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Allen never drinks but a party he decides to do so. Hours later he’s very drunk and starts talking about Victoria, surprising Dilly.
  • Amnesiac Lover: Singleton.
  • Asshole Victim: Morland gets the knife in the back ( from Aunt Beatrice) like he deserved.
  • Easy Amnesia: A traumatic event is all that is needed to give Singleton a serious case of amnesia.
  • Identity Amnesia: Victoria, due to the traumatic murder of Morland, forgets that she’s Victoria and takes on the name Singleton.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Singleton decides that she wants to find Victoria Morland because she knows Allen is still in love with her, not yet realizing that they are one and the same person.
  • Jerkass: Morland, oh, Morland. Not only does he marry Singleton without telling her the truth about the letters, he tells her in a horrible way and proceeds to burn them.
  • Love Letter: Morland “writes” several to Victoria, but it’s really Allen who’s pouring his heart out to her. She, in turn, loved those letters very much:
    Singleton: I think very few people are happy. They wait all their lives for something to happen to them - something great and wonderful. They don't know what it is but they wait for it. Sometimes it never happens. What they want is the kind of spirit I found in those letters. A spirit that makes life beautiful. I love that man. I loved him more than my own life. I still love him.
  • Old Maid: Singleton’s aunt, Beatrice, was an old maid who adopted Victoria when she was very small.
  • Only One Name: The name Victoria choses after her amnesia kicks in: Singleton.
  • Playing Cyrano: Allen for Morland, to horrible results.
  • The Reveal: It was Aunt Beatrice who killed Morland, not Singleton.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Allen wants to forget the war and have a bright future with Singleton. She even points it out:
    Singleton: I have forgotten and you don't want to remember, that's the only difference between us.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Singleton follows Allen, from London to Essex, just because she liked him a lot. He doesn’t mind too much, however.
  • That Man Is Dead: Singleton does this without even realizing it.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: The murder of Morland has left Victoria without any memory of her past before the accident.