A Letter to Three Wives (1949) - Rotten Tomatoes

A Letter to Three Wives1949

A Letter to Three Wives (1949)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

A Letter to Three Wives Photos

Movie Info

Three wives, played by Jeanne Crain, Ann Sothern and Linda Darnell, are about to embark on a boat trip when each receives a letter, written by a mutual friend named Addie, informing her that Addie is about to run off with one of their husbands. In flashback, each wife wonders if it is her marriage that is in jeopardy. Deborah (Crain) recounts her fish-out-of-water relationship with her up-and-coming hubby (Jeffrey Lynn); businesswoman Rita (Sothern) asks herself if she's been too rough on her professorial spouse (Kirk Douglas); and Lora May (Darnell), a girl from (literally) the wrong side of the tracks, questions the security of her marriage to a brash business executive (Paul Douglas). The voice of Addie, who is never seen, is provided by Celeste Holm. Thelma Ritter shows up in a hilarious unbilled bit as a slatternly domestic, while an equally uncredited Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer makes a quick entrance and exit as a bellhop. Written with perception and not a little witty condescension by director Joseph L. Mankiewicz, A Letter to Three Wives won two Oscars ,both for Mankiewicz. Based on a novel by John Klempner, the property was remade for television in 1985, with Ann Sothern back again in a supporting part.

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Jeanne Crain
as Deborah Bishop
Ann Sothern
as Rita Phipps
Linda Darnell
as Lora Mae Hollingsway
Kirk Douglas
as George Phipps
Paul Douglas
as Porter Hollingsway
Jeffrey Lynn
as Brad Bishop
Connie Gilchrist
as Mrs. Finney
Florence Bates
as Mrs. Manleigh
Hobart Cavanaugh
as Mr. Manleigh
Patti Brady
as Kathleen
Ruth Vivian
as Miss Hawkins
Ralph Brooks
as Character
Joe Bautista
as Thomasino
John Venn
as Messenger
Sam Finn
as Waiter
Celeste Holm
as Addie Ross
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Critic Reviews for A Letter to Three Wives

All Critics (20) | Top Critics (2)

Despite its emotional intensity, the film is comic, effervescently so, and its magical ending lends wit a metaphysical dimension.

October 6, 2014 | Full Review…

Mankiewicz's writing is bright and hard -- he's sharpening his teeth for All About Eve, made the next year -- but his acid wit is almost too much for his fragile characters to bear.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

This film takes a poke at radio soap operas in a slyly pointed fashion.

January 14, 2022 | Full Review…

Movies this mature, this powerful, this moving, are incredibly rare.

August 13, 2020 | Rating: 10/10 | Full Review…

A brilliantly handled exercise in building understanding of three highly strung characters and the men in their lives.

July 6, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

A sophisticated and witty slice of life drama.

March 29, 2015 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for A Letter to Three Wives

This movie is both dramatic and suspenseful, while telling four different stories, and I liked the ending too. This is a good movie.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer


My favorite Linda Darnell film. It's hard to stand out in a cast that includes such greats as Kirk Douglas, Ann Sothern and Jeanne Crain but she still manages to shine.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

I'd forgotten what a great movie this is! Celeste Holm narrates as Addie Ross, the unseen but effortlessly superior friend of three women (Jeanne Crain, Ann Sothern and Linda Darnell), one of whose husbands Addie claims, in a mischievous letter, to have run off with. But whose husband does she mean?!?! Each adores Addie, and each seems to be acting strangely... Moving to flashback, one for each wife in turn, we see the women quietly upstaged in their domestic bliss by their infuriatingly perfect girlfriend. Linda Darnell stands out from the excellent cast, probably because she gets most of the best lines, but Ann Sothern is just as good. It's nice to see Kirk Douglas taking his place in the ensemble for a change, instead of selfishly chewing the scenery; even when he does explode, in a rant against radio advertising, he does so with relative restraint and his performance is the better for it. Thelma Ritter plays that same part she always plays. As you would expect with Mankiewicz, there's some wonderfully sophisticated dialogue. Celeste Holm's sweetly malicious voiceover, though brief, must qualify as one of cinema's greatest.

Stephen M
Stephen M

Super Reviewer

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