Bette Davis In "The Letter"

Does anyone like this movie? I mean there must be people, but I found so many of her other movies better.

The reason I ask is this. I listen to a lot of old time radio (OTR) and on the show, like “Burns and Allen,” Amos and Andy," “Fibber McGee and Molly” etc, when one of the characters gets all dramatic (these are comedy shows remember) and delievers a dialog full of drama, the other character will say, very sarcastically “Wow, you’re better than Bette Davis in ‘The Letter’.”

So hearing this all the time I checked the movie out of the library and I found it very boring and I think Bette Davis is fine actress and had many better performances. But I assume from the radio shows, it must’ve been highly popular when released

So to Bette Davis fans, what do you think of the movie and was it one of her better ones?

I like it because it has Herbert Marshall in it. I like Herbert Marshall.

It was both popular and critically well received (seven Oscar nominations, though no wins). Her performance was considered a good one at the time.

But people don’t refer to a particular movie because of the quality, but because of the popularity.

In the case of The Letter, the movie was popular and it became a common reference (“Give me the letter” was a used by Bette Davis imitators, much like “You dirty rat” identified James Cagney) and eventually a trope. You could refer to The Letter and people who never saw the movie would understand the reference.

I saw it once a few years ago, and I liked it very much. But I’m a total Bette Davis fan, so it’s hard for me to be impartial.

She really had the ability to make her bitch/murderess roles seem completely “accessible” to an ordinary woman. I don’t know if that’s the right word, or how to say it: you can usually empathize with the character and see how it was that she became the kind of woman who would shoot a lover or let a helpless husband die of heart disease. I never felt that kind of empathy with, say, Joan Crawford.

Let me ask you this, since you are such a fan. Was it one of her better performances, in your opinion? Davis is a fine actress but I think she had much better performances. But perhaps since I found the movie so dull I am not being fair.

If you found the movie so boring, it might have to do with your expectations. It’s more of a dark psychological thriller, not so much of an action movie with a quick-paced plot. It’s certainly not my favorite movie of hers, but far from the worst either.

There are certainly bad Bette Davis movies, but they’re never bad because of Bette Davis.

Not even Parachute Jumper or **Ex-Lady **?

(A serious Bette Davis fan would get the reference).

It’s very much a movie of its time, full of symbolism and with a tacked-on ‘crime doesn’t pay’ ending, and though I love it, and Bette Davis, she certainly had showier roles. I can understand it not aging well or being of interest to the casual younger viewer.

"The Letter’ was a short story by William Somerset Maughm who wrote loads of stories about the British colonials in Malaysia and Indochina; tapping the rubber trees, going native, and getting with the native girls. I wish the Brits would film some of those stories and show them on Masterpiece Theater; they’ve done worse.

No, not one of her better performances. She was good, but something overall just didn’t click as well as her other movies. Still an enjoyable flick. And I like Herbert Marshall, too.

I loved her best in Of Human Bondage and The Little Foxes.

[SPOILER follows]
I just watched this movie, and was hugely impressed with Bette Davis’ performance. It gets 7.6 IMDB points, but I’d promote it to 7.7 just on the strength of her acting. I prefer this old type of straightforward melodrama — when done well — over modern-day razzle-dazzle action movies.

Unfortunately I can’t answer OP’s question — I’ve watched only a small fraction of her movies. She was nominated for Best Actress Oscar ten times (winning twice), but I’ve seen only three of those ten movies. One of my passing-the-time-while-quarantined projects will be to watch more films by this superb actress.

From Wikipedia I learn that two changes were needed to the script to pass Hollywood’s censorship rules. Bette’s character gets murdered in the final scene (“Crime mustn’t pay”); and the lover’s Chinese wife had to have her race changed to Eurasian — miscegenation was prohibited by the 1934 Motion Picture Production Code!

One of my favorite movies.
The one scene where she trying to convince her Husband she would be the best wife and in an instant changes to breaking down and confesses her love for the lover she murdered.
She is an impeccable actress.

‘All About Eve’ is good one.

That scene is mentioned in the Wikipedia article:

That’s one of the Bette Davis films I have already seen. “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”