A Letter to Three Wives Trailer (1949)
The story involves three married couples in a small Westchester County, New York town. The wives receive a message, just as they are about to take a group of school children on a riverboat ride and picnic, that a fourth woman has run off with one of their husbands. A series of flashbacks intimates the reasons why each wife might be the one deserted.
One is Deborah (Jeanne Crain), who grew up on a farm. Her only worldliness comes from service in the Navy during World War II. She feels out of place at the social occasions that her husband Brad (Jeffrey Lynn) enjoys (and grew up in). Another is Rita (Ann Sothern), a career woman who writes sappy stories for radio soap operas. Her teacher husband George (Kirk Douglas) feels somewhat emasculated since she earns a substantial portion of the household income and is turned off by his wife giving in to demands of radio managers. The third, Lora Mae (Linda Darnell), grew up poor but succeeded in bulldozing Porter (Paul Douglas), the wealthy owner of a statewide chain of department stores, into a marriage he didn't want (she works in one of the stores). He is a bit older and "knows all the answers," as she sarcastically tells him. The couple has never gotten along but obviously share a bond.
The film ends with the women returning home from the picnic. Rita is overjoyed when she discovers her husband there. She promises to no longer be pushed around by the radio people and to pay George more attention. Deborah's houseman gives her a phone message from a woman, saying that Brad wasn't coming home that night. Lora Mae tells her mother that Porter may not be back. Her mother insists that Porter loves her. Lora Mae refuses to believe this, even after Porter does return. Lora Mae, though obviously relieved, pretends not to care. The three couples (excluding Brad) have dinner together. A cold Deborah clashes with Porter, claiming he has no idea how much Lora Mae really loves him. Porter says she is only waiting for the opportune moment to take his money and leave. Deborah announces to everybody that Brad has run off with Addie Ross, making Porter understand her temper. A sudden twist occurs when Porter stops Deborah, confessing it was he who ran off with Addie, and not Brad. He says, "A man can change his mind, can he?"
Deborah leaves, but this time happily. In the beginning of the film, Brad had stated that he may be absent for dinner because of his work. Rita claims that Deborah would've known by morning anyway, but Porter wanted her not to have a tough night. Porter then tells his wife that now he has admittedly run off with another woman, she can divorce him and take his fortune. Knowing how much her husband loves her, Lora Mae forgives him and they dance together, joined by Rita and George.
The voice of Addie Ross bids all a good night. She never appears on camera.
2 min 43 sec
November 16, 2009
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
20th Century Fox
January 20, 1949
No Music Available