Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Jeanne Eagels in "The Letter"

Jeanne Eagels received her only Oscar nomination for playing Leslie Crosbie in The Letter.

This version of The Letter is rightfully forgotten. I myself sometimes find it enjoyable to see films from other times just to give myself some kind of balance, but when you are a given a film that was made in 1929 that is both unwatchable (almost literally, since I found it online and the sound was not the best, to say the least) and unnecessary. If you want to see a great version of the story, look no further then the 1940 version. But anyways, the story of The Letter goes something like this: a woman kills her secret lover, who she claimed tried to rape her, and must prove her innocence.

Jeanne Eagels died of an unfortunate overdose after The Letter was released, making her the first posthumous nominee in the history of the Academy Awards. She plays Leslie Crosbie, a seductive, mousy looking woman who tries to defend her innocence. At every turn of The Letter, Eagels tries to put power in every move and line - as this was the very early talkies, Eagels does incredibly well with the lines. To be perfectly honest, Jeanne Eagles gives one of those performances that goes through the motions until some critical points in the story.

When she is on trial and is clearly lying, she is terrific, showing how trying to convince the jury is just as hard as convincing the audience. And the final confrontation scene is just incredible! It's unbelievable such a well acted scene could be possible in the film. However, Eagels still has this bad aura around her performance, especially considering she moves at every possible moment, seeming fidgety and nervous (addiction showing it's causes, perhaps?). But, Jeanne Eagels' ghostly presence is intense and for a film from 1929, definitely wonderful - there's just too many cricks in it.

7 comments:

Fritz said...

Sounds very interesting!

dinasztie said...

Imteresting indeed. I hated the Bette version, though. Where did you find this movie?

Could you write about Helen Hayes next?

Louis Morgan said...

I'm glad to find out that this film is no longer considered lost. I have not seen it yet, but I certainly hope more of the lost early nominees are found particularly The Way of All Flesh.

Sage Slowdive said...

I actually found this online, it was on one of the torrent websites before everything went haywire.

Brandon (Twister) said...

Wow, I have heard this was impossible to find, and remember that someone once offered to pay money for anyone who could find it!

By the way, and this is kind of off topic, but have you ever seen a online copy of Halloween 2: The Tv Version, because I have been trying to find it ever since AMC stopped showing it, and I have heard that it could be downloaded. I'm one of the few people who enjoy seeing that version!

joe burns said...

Interesting review, I didn't know that the 1940 version was a remake this version...



By the way, can you do 1940 next?

Sage Slowdive said...

All those torrent sites are gone with the wind, so I couldn't really tell you a legitimate answer but I would assume it's somewhere out there.