Greatest Film Scenes
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A Letter to Three Wives (1949)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

A Letter to Three Wives (1949)

In Joseph L. Mankiewicz' marriage drama:

  • the three flashbacks of three different marriages during a Hudson River boat trip, after a letter, authoried by Addie Ross (off-screen with voice-over by Celeste Holm) arrived - addressed to three married women: Deborah "Debby" Bishop (Jeanne Crain), Lora Mae Hollingsway (Linda Darnell), and blonde Rita Phipps (Ann Sothern): ("Dearest Debby, Lora Mae and Rita. As you know by now, you'll have to carry on without me from here. It isn't easy to leave a town like our town, to tear myself away from you three dear, dear friends who have meant so much to me. And so I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to take with me a sort of memento. Something to remind me always of the town that was my home, and of my three very dearest friends whom I want never to forget. And I won't. You see, girls, I've run off with one of your husbands. Addie")
(l to r): Lora Mae, Rita, and Debby
Incriminating Letter
  • the review of the lives of the three women, seen in flashback: ex-Navy WAVES soldier Deborah (or "Debby"), married to upper-class Brad Bishop (Jeffrey Lynn); golddigger Lora Mae, married to older wealthy department store owner Porter Hollingsway (Paul Douglas); and radio soap opera writer Rita, married to schoolteacher George Phipps (Kirk Douglas)
  • the conclusion in which it was revealed that Porter had begun to run away with Addie, but then he reconsidered and changed his mind, when he confessed to the other couples: ("Brad didn't run away with Addie Ross. I did....A man can change his mind, can't he?")
  • after Porter's confession, he offered to accept a divorce from Lora Mae, but she pretended to not hear him and declined: (Porter: "Okay, you got it. They all heard me say I ran away with another woman. You've got everything you need. You can take me for everything you'll ever want" Lora Mae: "Like always, Porter, when you start knockin' on that brandy bottle, you'll come up with anything. I guess I stopped listening, 'cause if you said something, I just didn't hear it. Why don't everybody dance?")
  • the film's last line ("Heigh-ho! Good night, everybody") - spoken by Addie Ross in voice-over (she was never seen in person), as one of the drink glasses fell over on the table

Rita (Ann Sothern) with Husband George Phipps (Kirk Douglas)

Deborah ("Debby") Bishop (Jeanne Crain)

Lora Mae with Porter Hollingsway (Paul Douglas)

Lora Mae's Decline of Divorce Offer From Straying Husband Porter


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