|Joseph Cotten and Jennifer Jones|
in Love Letters.
Frequently in films, the identity of a letter’s author is an intentional deception. A little girl sent her mother’s photo to her lonely soldier pen pal in Never Say Goodbye (1946), never suspecting that he would come visiting. Similar pen pal deceptions occurred in 1945’s A Letter for Evie and the 1947 hit comedy Dear Ruth. Cyrano de Bergerac (Jose Ferrer) wrote poignant love letters to the beautiful Roxanne, but signed the name of his hapless friend Christian in the 1950 adaptation of Edmund Rostand’s celebrated play. Jennifer Jones, who suffered amnesia in Love Letters (1945), learned that her wartime love letters were not written by her fiancé. The deceiving letters penned by the devious Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close) in Dangerous Liaisons (1988) eventually led to the death of her lover (John Malkovitch).
|Stewart and Sullavan in The Shop|
Around the Corner.
|Loretta Young looks alarmed...in|
Cause for Alarm.
Misdirected letters reaching their destination after a year-long delay provided the premise for the three-part TV-movie The Letters and its sequel Letters from Three Lovers (both 1973).
84 Charing Cross Road (1987) traced the charming 20-year letter-writing relationship between a New York book lover (Anne Bancroft) and a British book dealer (Anthony Hopkins). Below is a representative list of classic films in which letters played a major role:
The Strong Man (1926)
Poison Pen (1939)
The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
The Letter (1940)
Address Unknown (1944)
Love Letters (1945)
A Letter for Evie (1945)
Never Say Goodbye (1946)
The Captive Heart (1946)
Dear Ruth (1947)
The Lost Moment (1947)
Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)
A Letter to Three Wives (1949)
Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)
Cause for Alarm (1951)
The 13th Letter (1951)
Fate Takes a Hand (1961)
Never Put It in Writing (1964)
Dear Brigitte (1965)
The Go-Between (1971)
The Letters (1973 TVM)
Letters from Three Lovers (1973 TVM)
No Sex Please, We’re British (1973)
Dirty Tricks (1980)
Touched by Love (aka To Elvis, With Love) (1980)
The Letter (1982 TVM)
Love Letters (aka My Love Letters) (1983)
A Letter to Three Wives (1985 TVM)
Secret Admirer (1985)
84 Charing Cross Road (1987)
Dangerous Liaisons (1988)
Reprinted with the authors' permission from the Encyclopedia of Film Themes, Settings and Series.