Jayne Gandara

Written by Jayne Gandara

Modified & Updated: 28 May 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett

Source: Amazon.com

A Letter to Three Wives is a classic film that has captivated audiences for decades. Released in 1949, this American drama film earned critical acclaim and garnered several Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, the movie tells the story of three women who receive a letter hinting that one of their husbands has run away with another woman. As they embark on a reflective journey, examining their marriages and friendships, the suspense builds as the identity of the husband in question is slowly revealed.

With its compelling narrative and stellar performances, A Letter to Three Wives has left an indelible mark on cinema history. In this article, we will delve into 50 fascinating facts about this remarkable film, shedding light on its production, cast, and legacy. From behind-the-scenes anecdotes to critical reception, prepare to be immersed in the world of A Letter to Three Wives.

Key Takeaways:

  • A Letter to Three Wives is a classic American drama film released in 1949, featuring a compelling plot, stellar performances, and timeless themes of love, trust, and betrayal.
  • Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, the film explores the complexities of marriage, friendship, and human emotions, leaving a lasting impact on viewers and earning critical acclaim and accolades.
Table of Contents

A classic American drama

A Letter to Three Wives is a classic American drama film released in 1949.

Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz

The film was directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who also wrote the screenplay.

Based on a book

The story of A Letter to Three Wives is adapted from the novel of the same name by John Klempner.

Starring Jeanne Crain

The film features Jeanne Crain in the lead role. She delivers a compelling performance as Deborah Bishop.

An ensemble cast

A Letter to Three Wives boasts an impressive ensemble cast, including Linda Darnell, Ann Sothern, and Kirk Douglas.

A thought-provoking plot

The film centers around three women who receive a letter from a mutual friend, detailing her intentions to run away with one of their husbands.

The charm of black and white

A Letter to Three Wives was shot in black and white, adding to the film’s timeless and atmospheric quality.

A critical and commercial success

The movie received widespread critical acclaim and was a box office hit, solidifying its status as a classic.

Oscar-winning screenplay

Joseph L. Mankiewicz won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work on A Letter to Three Wives.

A tale of friendship and betrayal

The film explores the complexities of friendship and the challenges that arise when trust is broken.

Captivating performances

The talented cast delivers stellar performances, bringing depth and authenticity to their characters.

A unique narrative structure

A Letter to Three Wives employs a flashback technique, keeping the audience engaged and intrigued throughout the story.

Themes of gender roles and societal expectations

The film delves into the theme of gender roles and the pressures placed on women in a traditional society.

John Klempner’s insightful storytelling

The source material provides a rich foundation for the film, offering an insightful exploration of human relationships and emotions.

A powerful examination of marriage

A Letter to Three Wives examines the complexities of marriage and the choices individuals make within their relationships.

Memorable dialogue

The film is known for its sharp and memorable dialogue, showcasing Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s mastery of storytelling.

A timeless tale

A Letter to Three Wives continues to resonate with audiences today, highlighting the universal themes of love, trust, and betrayal.

Academy Award-nominated performances

Linda Darnell and Thelma Ritter received Academy Award nominations for their exceptional performances in the film.

Stellar cinematography

The film’s cinematography beautifully captures the essence of the era, enhancing the overall viewing experience.

A pioneering female director

A Letter to Three Wives was one of the few films during that era to be directed by a woman, showcasing the talent of Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s sister, Alleret.

A letter that changes everything

The central plot device of the letter sets in motion a series of events that challenges the characters’ relationships and perceptions.

A character-driven narrative

The film places a strong emphasis on character development, allowing the audience to connect and empathize with the protagonists.

A masterclass in storytelling

Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s direction ensures that every scene in A Letter to Three Wives serves a purpose, advancing the narrative and revealing deeper layers of the characters.

The elegance of a bygone era

The film captures the elegance and sophistication of the 1940s, immersing the audience in a glamorous world.

The power of female friendship

A Letter to Three Wives explores the powerful bond of friendship and the strength that women find in supporting one another.

The unpredictability of human relationships

The film showcases the unpredictable nature of human relationships and the complexities that arise even in the seemingly strongest bonds.

A timeless exploration of human emotions

A Letter to Three Wives delves into the depths of human emotions, exposing vulnerability, jealousy, and love.

A dramatic soundtrack

The film’s soundtrack heightens the emotional impact, taking the audience on a rollercoaster of feelings.

Critically acclaimed performances

Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell, and Ann Sothern received widespread praise for their nuanced and captivating portrayals.

A character-driven script

Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s script allows the characters to shine, providing depth and complexity to the story.

The enduring appeal of classic cinema

A Letter to Three Wives serves as a reminder of the timeless appeal of classic films and their ability to captivate audiences across generations.

The art of subtle storytelling

The film’s subtle nuances and layered storytelling leave a lasting impression on the viewer.

A Letter to Three Wives as a cultural milestone

The film holds a significant place in American cinema, exemplifying the golden age of Hollywood.

An exploration of societal expectations

A Letter to Three Wives delves into the pressures and expectations placed on women in the 1940s, sparking conversations about gender roles and feminism.

A testament to the power of words

The letter serves as a catalyst, igniting a chain of events and highlighting the impact that words can have on relationships.

An examination of trust and loyalty

The film raises questions about the fragility of trust and the complexities of loyalty in romantic relationships.

A timeless portrayal of love

A Letter to Three Wives showcases different forms of love, from passionate romance to enduring companionship.

A masterclass in acting

The performances in A Letter to Three Wives exemplify exceptional acting skills and bring the characters to life.

A film ahead of its time

The themes explored in A Letter to Three Wives were considered groundbreaking for its era, tackling subjects that were rarely addressed on screen.

A character study

The film delves deep into the psyche of its characters, offering insights into their desires, fears, and motivations.

A must-watch for cinephiles

A Letter to Three Wives is a film that should be on every film lover’s watchlist, thanks to its exceptional storytelling and powerful performances.

A reminder of the complexities of marriage

The film reminds us that marriage is a complex journey filled with highs and lows, and that no relationship is without its challenges.

A testament to the power of friendship

A Letter to Three Wives emphasizes the importance of friendship in navigating the ups and downs of life.

A timeless exploration of human nature

The film delves into the intricacies of human nature, portraying the flaws, vulnerabilities, and strengths of its characters.

The legacy of A Letter to Three Wives

The film continues to inspire and influence contemporary filmmakers, serving as a touchstone for quality storytelling.

Recognized by the Library of Congress

A Letter to Three Wives was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.

An emotionally resonant experience

A Letter to Three Wives evokes a range of emotions, leaving a lasting impact on the viewer.

A cinematic gem

The film is considered a gem of American cinema, praised for its intelligent script, strong performances, and timeless themes.

Honored with accolades

A Letter to Three Wives received several awards and nominations, including three Academy Award nominations and a Golden Globe nomination.

A Letter to Three Wives: A masterpiece of storytelling

A Letter to Three Wives stands as a masterpiece of storytelling, weaving together compelling characters, intricate relationships, and thought-provoking themes to create an enduring cinematic experience.


With its intriguing storyline, stellar cast, and timeless themes, “A Letter to Three Wives” is a cinematic masterpiece that continues to captivate audiences to this day. The film’s compelling narrative, combined with the superb performances by its talented ensemble, makes it a must-see for any movie lover.

As we explored in this article, “A Letter to Three Wives” holds a special place in cinematic history. It is an engaging tale of friendship, love, and the complexities of relationships that resonates with viewers of all ages. The film’s unique approach, combining drama, comedy, and romance, sets it apart from other films of its time.

Whether you are a die-hard fan or new to the world of classic cinema, “A Letter to Three Wives” offers a remarkable viewing experience. Its carefully crafted script, dynamic characters, and thought-provoking themes make it a true gem in the world of movies.

If you haven’t had the chance to watch this iconic film, make sure to add it to your must-watch list. “A Letter to Three Wives” will not disappoint, offering a journey into the complexities of love and friendship that will leave a lasting impression.


Q: Who directed the movie “A Letter to Three Wives”?

A: The movie “A Letter to Three Wives” was directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

Q: When was “A Letter to Three Wives” released?

A: The film was released on January 20, 1949.

Q: What is the genre of “A Letter to Three Wives”?

A: “A Letter to Three Wives” is a drama-comedy film.

Q: Who starred in “A Letter to Three Wives”?

A: The film features an outstanding cast, including Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell, Ann Sothern, Kirk Douglas, and Paul Douglas.

Q: What is the plot of “A Letter to Three Wives”?

A: The movie revolves around three friends who receive a mysterious letter, which reveals that one of their husbands has run off with another woman.

Q: Did “A Letter to Three Wives” receive any awards?

A: Yes, the film won the Academy Award for Best Director and was nominated for Best Picture.

If you enjoyed learning about "A Letter to Three Wives," why not explore more fascinating facts about other classic films? Uncover the enigmatic world of Adaptation and its unique storytelling approach. Dive into the captivating history behind Joseph L. Mankiewicz's iconic film "All About Eve." And for those who can't get enough of classic cinema, "47 Facts About The Movie Butterfield 8" awaits your discovery. Each article offers a treasure trove of behind-the-scenes secrets, memorable moments, and intriguing details that will deepen your appreciation for these timeless cinematic masterpieces.

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