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In the opening sequence of The Letter, director William Wyler delivers a primer on film directing: at a rubber plantation, in the tropical funk of a Malaysian night, the heavy stillness is suddenly broken by shots... and a woman with a gun, descending a staircase. She is the wife of the plantation owner, and the dead man is, ahem, not her husband. Holding the gun so securely is Bette Davis, in one of her greatest performances (her acting of a big revelation, late in the film, is still an astounding piece of emotional fluency). The story is taken from one of those sturdy Somerset Maugham tales that has proved itself in many versions, but this is the keeper; it was nominated for seven Oscars®, including best picture, director, and actress, winning none. Wyler's impeccable direction, and Davis's take-no-prisoners approach to an "unsympathetic" character, make for a completely satisfying picture.

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Special Features Recently discovered alternate ending sequence Audio-only bonuses: 4/21/41 Lux Radio Theater adaptation starring Davis, Marshall, and Stevenson and 3/6/44 Lux Radio Theater adaptation starring Davis and Marshall Theatrical trailer

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WA65225 Letter DVD (1940/Bette Davis) $19.98 $17.99