The Letter (1940) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Letter (1940)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Letter Photos

Movie Info

Based on a novel by W. Somerset Maugham, William Wyler's drama stars Bette Davis as Leslie Crosbie, the malevolent wife of a Malaysian rubber magnate (Herbert Marshall) who is accused of murdering her lover and attempting to cover up the crime.

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Bette Davis
as Leslie Crosbie
Herbert Marshall
as Robert Crosbie
James Stephenson
as Howard Joyce
Gale Sondergaard
as Mrs. Hammond
Frieda Inescort
as Dorothy Joyce
Bruce Lester
as John Withers
Elizabeth Earl
as Adele Ainsworth
Elizabeth Inglis
as Adele Ainsworth
Victor Sen Yung
as Ong Chi Seng
Doris Lloyd
as Mrs. Cooper
Willie Fung
as Chung Hi
Tetsu Komai
as Head Boy
Charles Irwin
as Bob's Friend
Bruce Lister
as John Withers
Holmes Herbert
as Bob's Friend
Douglas Walton
as Well-Wisher
David Newell
as Geoffrey Hammond
Otto Hahn
as Bartender at Party
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Critic Reviews for The Letter

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (2)

Like Jezebel, the relationship of the characters to the setting and the people who serve them... is complicated - in problematic ways but in challenging, subversive ways too.

February 12, 2021 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

even a bad Davis movie where she's hamming and mugging and even humiliating herself is more fun than practically no Bette at all.

June 13, 2005 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

This might be one of Bette Davis' least sympathetic parts, which is saying something.

February 9, 2021 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Expert direction, splendid performances and an amazing score combine to make this somber picture one of the most satisfying film experiences of the year.

October 30, 2019 | Full Review…

The greatest actress that the cinema has ever had the honor to service is typically terrific.

October 5, 2019 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

The Letter is a movie that provides that personal satisfaction that works of art produce in our soul. [Full review in Spanish]

September 16, 2019 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Letter


A slightly predictable story of blackmail and murder involving Bette Davis. Pretty good movie, but it could be more exciting.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer


What a powerful performance by Miss Davis in a very unflattering role. All the elements are present for a great motion picture (casting, direction & screenplay) and The Letter delivers in spades

Of note is the presence of Gale Sondergaard as the silent but ominous Malaysian widow who speaks volumes without ever uttering a word. Yes, this is the same Gale Sondergaard who was originally cast as the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz before (thankfully) turning the role over to the talents of Margaret Hamilton. Sondergaard's appearance might seem stereotypical and offensive today, but there's no denying her screen presence. Simply brilliant.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

maybe the best of ms. davis' many fine performances. and one of the best opening scenes ever.

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

The Letter Quotes

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