Love Letters (1945) – full review!
Let me apologize in advance if this synopsis is not up to my normal high standards; I watched this film six months ago when it premiered on TCM in August 2006 and have done my best to recall it all this time later (which is not my normal practice). I believe that the following gives an accurate “feel” for the elements of its plot if not the letter perfect detail one can usually expect from my reviews.
This compelling (atmospheric) mystery romance drama is a Cyrano de Bergerac-type story from Chris Massie with a screenplay by Ayn Rand; it was directed by William Dieterle (The Life of Emile Zola (1937)). Jennifer Jones plays Victoria who falls in love with the author of the titled “love letters”; she thinks Roger Morland (Robert Sully) wrote them but actually it was his friend and fellow officer Alan Quinton (Joseph Cotten) who penned the letters on his behalf. She marries Roger but when Victoria learns the truth she is disillusioned and is soon convicted of her husband’s murder. Since she was simultaneously stricken with amnesia and now thinks her name is Singleton she is soon released into the care of a friend named Dilly Carson (Ann Richards).
Some time later Alan returns from the war via a sanitarium. He learns of his friend’s death and visits the small town where the letters had been sent. At a party he meets Dilly and later somewhat inebriated recounts the story of his friend and the letters. Of course Dilly knows the story; she’s grown to like Alan but she’s also weary of the possibilities and danger of exposing the truth to Singleton. Alan returns to live at his Aunt’s house which is still being kept by Mack (Cecil Kellaway). Not really recovered from the pain of the war Alan breaks his engagement with his fiancée Helen (Anita Louise). But he’s intrigued by the mystery of his friend Roger’s death so he researches it and finds that his wife had been the murderer. He’s also always wanted to meet the woman to whom he’d written the letters because he’d always been curious about her.
Of course Alan meets Singleton and the two fall in love. Dilly warns Alan not to tell Singleton that she is actually Victoria the person Singleton believes is Alan’s lost love. When Alan and Singleton marry her curiosity prompts a self discovery of her own which is enabled when her aged “parent” Beatrice Remington (Gladys Cooper) returns the area. Beatrice had adopted orphan Victoria and had actually been the one who’d murdered Roger to protect her former charge before she’d suffered from a stroke and had been unable to testify at the trial. All this comes rushing back to Singleton when she happens upon the old house where she finds Beatrice; Alan arrives just in time to complete the connection for himself and her.
Reginald Denny and Ian Wolfe (uncredited) also plays roles in this film which earned Jones a Best Actress Academy Award nomination; its B&W Art Direction-Set Decoration title Song and Score were also Oscar nominated.