Leslie, along with her husband Robert (Herbert Marshall), lives on a rubber plantation in Singapore. As Leslie tells her husband and the police, the dead man, family friend Jeff Hammond, had arrived at the plantation in a state of drunkenness and began making advances toward her. Although she asked him to leave, he continued forcing his unwanted attentions upon her, and with self-protection in mind, she shot him.
Robert Crosbie is caring and supportive and never once doubts his wife's story; Leslie's lawyer, however, begins to be suspicious, especially when his associate indicates that there is a letter from Leslie to Mr. Hammond, written on the day of his death. That letter, which makes clear that Leslie's relationship with Jeff Hammond was not quite what she had revealed, is in the possession of Hammond's widow, who is willing to sell said letter for a price.
Is the letter legitimate? What was Leslie's relationship with Jeff Hammond? Did she really shoot him in self-defense? Or is there more to it than that? These are the questions which will play out in this fabulously-acted film. Bette, who was nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award for this role, is totally stellar. Herbert Marshall is very good as her faithful, loving husband. And Gale Sondergaard, who portrays Hammond's widow, was spectacular...and she barely uttered ten words. She spoke more with her eyes and facial expressions than the average person speaks with a hundred words. To my way of thinking, she ought to have garnered a Best Supporting Actress nomination.
Anyhow, The Letter is a definite must-see Bette Davis film. It's out on DVD and should be quite easy to track down. Happy viewing!!!