A LETTER TO THREE WIVES (1949) B/W 103m dir: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

w/Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell, Ann Sothern, Kirk Douglas, Paul Douglas, Barbara Lawrence, Jeffrey Lynn, Thelma Ritter, Connie Gilchrist, Florence Bates, Hobart Cavanaugh, and the voice of Celeste Holm

A well-constructed suburban comedy-satire about three women who are wickedly advised by a fourth that she has run off with one of their husbands.

From Variety's review of the film: "While the picture is standout in every aspect, there are two factors responsible for its overall quality. One is the unique story, adapted from a John Klempner novel Vera Caspary and given a nifty screenplay by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. ...

"Other standout aspect is the fine film debut of legit actor Paul Douglas. His role in Wives is that of a big, blustering but slightly dumb tycoon and he really gives it a ride with some neat character shading. He's equally good in the more serious romantic moments with Linda Darnell.

"Rest of the cast is equally good. Jeanne Crain, Darnell and Ann Sothern, as the three fraus, each turns in a job as good as anything they've done. Kirk Douglas, playing Sothern's husband, is fine as the serious-minded literature prof who can't take his wife's soap opera writing.

"Story is bridged by the off-screen voice of the she-wolf, who is built into a character resembling every man's dream gal by the dialog. Mankiewicz, wisely, never shows her."

From The Movie Guide: "Delicious bites of suburbia, with Darnell a surprising prize plum. This ingeniously constructed film is one of the finest movies ever made about marriage. ...

"The acting of the six leading players here is outstanding, with the aforementioned Darnell in particular giving the finest performance of her career (in the film's best sketch) as the supposedly hardhearted lady with only wealth on her mind (Top line --- when Thelma Ritter cracks Darnell should dress up, wear beads, Linda retorts, 'What I got don't need beads!'). Both Douglases, Ann Sothern, the Gilchrist and Ritter team, Florence Bates, and Jeanne Crain all rise to the occasion. The sharp piquancy of of the dialog earned Mankiewicz an Oscar for his script, another for his deft direction. Originally, Zanuck wanted Ernst Lubitsch to direct the film, and gave producer Siegel a fight before he would accept Mankiewicz. The film was a landmark achievement for Mankiewicz, who, on the strength of it, became the darling of the Fox lot, earning profound resentment from Zanuck. Years later, Zanuck blamed Mankiewicz personally for almost destroying Fox with his hugely expensive production of CLEOPATRA."

The film was also nominated for Best Picture.