A Letter to Three Wives, based on novel by John Klempner
A Letter to Three Wives is an outstanding film, winner of the Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Writing, Screenplay, both for Joseph L. Mankiewicz.
The film has been included on The New York Times’ Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made list for good reason:
Deborah Bishop, Rita Phipps and Lora May Hollingsway are the Three Wives from the title, good friends that receive the named letter and they have a terrible time waiting to see who gets the blow announced in it
As they depart with children on a boat trip, just before getting on board, they receive the Letter to Three Wives, in which Addie Ross announces that she is leaving their town forever and has taken with her…one of their husbands.
The three woman look back at their own stories and wonder if it is their respective husbands that have separated and run away with this loathsome, at least now, creature who has always stood, in not between, very close to all the couples involved.
Deborah Bishop is the first to remember her arrival in town, with only one dress to wear and very concerned about that, seeing as she had looked wonderful in uniform, during the war, but she now has to get to a party.
How will she face her new friends, the people she does not know yet, but who are so close to her husband and what is the impression, or disillusionment that he will have when watching her fail in public?
Rita Phipps and her husband, George aka the wonderful Kirk Douglas, arrive at the home of the newly married and the former helps with the dress, trying first to take out a flower that seemed tacky, only to have to saw it back because with a gauche movement, Deborah tears it and a piece of the dress.
Alas, later on, at the dance, a sudden movement sends the flower flying, unveiling the piece of cloth missing on the belly of the very handsome woman, who flies away in tears, but is helped by the same helpful Mrs. Phipps.
The latter thinks on the boat about the time she has tried to get a well-paying job for her husband, who is a teacher, with a radio where a certain Mrs. Manleigh is a leading figure, invited with her husband for a very special dinner.
The Manleigh couple is very retrograde and obsessed with commercials, money and programs that are loathsome in their exclusively pecuniary interests, lowering the intelligence level of their audiences.
Indeed, this is so relevant today, with channels like Fox News and others, which offer a propaganda, news that flatter the president and omit any of the multitude of scandals that plague this demented individual, from the Russia collusion, the infamous recording with “grabbing pussy” in the bus, to the latest Stormy Daniels porn star scandal…
Mrs. Manleigh has a clash with George Phipps who explains that the programs she so worships are in fact vicious, dangerous and stupid, they show a mean interest in making money without offering any decent form of culture.
Rita and George fight after the precious guests depart, because she wanted George to get a better paying position, while the latter says that he had to cope with the idea that his wife is paid so much more (an issue decades ago, but not anymore?), but his calling is to teach and that is his ultimate joy.
On a side note, George is right in following his calling, because psychology studies have demonstrated that out of the three groups that we have in each profession, the ones dedicated to their job are the happy ones and not those who are there just to get a paycheck, fat or not, or interested in a career, promotions and other perks.
Lora Mae Hollingsway recalls her past, in which she shared very poor accommodation with her mother and sister, right next to the train line, which made the house shake tremendously whenever the locomotive and cars passed by.
Porter Hollingsway was her boss and interested in having an affair with the attractive employee, but nothing serious, considering he had been married, it did not work out and his celibacy is entertaining.
Lora Mae is very determined though, clever, cunning, persistent, brave, determined to obtain more in life than a few drinks at the restaurant, a few rides in cars in exchange for giving herself, her body away.
Therefore, she resists the increasingly annoyed, frustrated Porter, who is in fact rude, and the one who mainly raises the issue of different moeurs and manners that would be unacceptable in the age of the rise of the women.
The woman seems to win, although the two are sparring, insulting and fighting with each other constantly, making a possible reunion, even if it does take place somewhat undesirable and based on what one could see as false pretenses.
A Letter to Three Wives is extraordinarily good, invites the public to reflect on their own relationships, misgivings, and keeps the audience guessing who could be the husband that deserted for the fearsome Addie.