A Letter to Three Wives

Watch A Letter to Three Wives

"All of them wondered while one of them wandered!"
  • Passed
  • 1949
  • 1 hr 43 min
  • 7.7  (10,633)

A Letter to Three Wives is a 1949 American drama film directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. The film offers a thought-provoking and multi-layered exploration of marriage and the roles of women in post-World War II suburban America. The film begins with three women receiving a letter as they embark on a boat trip. The letter is from a mutual friend named Addie Ross who informs the women, Deborah, Lora Mae, and Rita, that she has run off with one of their husbands. As they try to figure out who Addie had run off with, the movie goes into a series of flashbacks that shows the past life of each woman, the problems in their respective marriages, and the reasons why Addie’s letter may have pushed them over the edge.

Deborah is a successful writer married to Brad, a schoolteacher. The couple's marriage is strained by Brad's jealousy of her success and intellect. Lora Mae is a former gold digger married to wealthy Porter, who is older than her. She worries that Porter may leave her for someone younger and attractive. Meanwhile, Rita, a former actress married to George, is dissatisfied with their simple life and feels that George is not ambitious enough to match her aspirations.

As the movie progresses, each woman’s flashback provides a glimpse into the problems in their respective marriages, preparing the viewer for the revelation of the husband who has run off with Addie. Each backstory is dramatic in its own right and adds to the overall weight and intensity of the movie.

Deborah’s story portrays a woman who is a dedicated writer and whose work has earned her fame and fortune. She is married to Brad, who is a good man but not as successful as his wife. Brad's insecurity about his lack of success has led to problems in their marriage. Deborah’s flashbacks show her conflicted feelings towards her husband, depicted partly as a self-pitying nag, and partly as an unpolished but loving husband.

Lora Mae’s story focuses on her past failures to snag wealthy men as a way of providing for her and her mother. Her current husband, Porter, a successful businessman, is the first man that she "really loved," and she is desperate to hold onto him. Her flashbacks show that Porter loves her, but his lack of emotional attentiveness and age make Lora Mae doubt his love.

Finally, Rita’s story is about a woman who feels that she has settled for a common man, married to George, who works in a factory. Despite the comfort and stability that George provides, Rita struggles with feelings of resentment towards him for not taking chances in life. Her flashbacks show her past life as an actress, and she finds it difficult to adjust to a simple life, thereby yearning for stardom and excitement.

Throughout the movie, the viewer pieces together the various elements of the women's lives and relationships. Although Addie’s letter initially sparked resentment towards their husbands, the women eventually see her message as a challenge to improve themselves and their relationships.

The acting is superb throughout the movie, with Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell, and Ann Sothern delivering excellent performances as the three wives. The film was nominated for multiple Academy Awards, with Mankiewicz winning the Oscar for Best Director and Best Screenplay.

In conclusion, A Letter to Three Wives is a poignant and timeless classic that highlights the struggles and complexities of marriage and female identity in post-World War II America. It is a must-see for anyone interested in character-driven drama that delves into the delicate nuances of relationships. This movie remains just as relevant and relatable today as it was when it first hit theaters over 70 years ago.

A Letter to Three Wives is a 1949 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 43 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.7.

A Letter to Three Wives
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 43 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.7  (10,633)