Bette Davis: Hollywood Rebel

The Letter

Only a single piece of evidence, a letter, stands between a woman’s freedom and long-term imprisonment.

Image from The Letter

USA 1940
Dir William Wyler
With Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, James Stephenson, Frieda Inescort
95min
35mm
Certificate PG
A BFI National Archive print

Married woman Leslie Crosbie (Davis) is held in a Singapore jail accused of the murder of her lover on a rubber plantation. Only a single piece of evidence, a letter, stands between her freedom and long-term imprisonment – but the cost of accessing this document comes at a high price both financially and emotionally. This tense noir provided Davis with an opportunity to play a cold, calculating woman who’s able to keep control in dire situations.

Please note: this film contains language, images or other content that reflect views prevalent in its time, but that may cause offence today. The film is included here for historical, cultural or aesthetic reasons and these views are in no way endorsed by the BFI or its partners.