Alan Quinton (Joseph Cotten) is an officer on the front in Italy during World War II. A fellow officer, Roger Morland (Robert Sully), has enlisted Alan’s help with a personal project. Before heading off to war, Roger met a girl named Victoria (Jennifer Jones), and he needs help coming up with romantic things to say to her in his letters.
Alan writes the letters in full, and Victoria falls in love with his poetic prose. Alan, meanwhile, begins to fall for Victoria as well. Still, Victoria has no clue that someone other than Roger is writing the letters.
Soon, Roger and Victoria marry, visiting his parents in England on their honeymoon. Meanwhile, Alan gets wounded in the war and is sent back to England to recuperate. Complications ensue when Alan learns that Roger has died in an accident, leaving Victoria a young widow.
Love Letters was directed by William Dieterle. The screenplay was written by Ayn Rand, drawing inspiration from Cyrano de Bergerac but based on a novel by Christopher Massie.
I recorded Love Letters from TCM in April, when it aired as part of their series on post-war melodramas. While it can certainly be considered a melodrama, this film has a little bit of everything: romance, mystery, drama, exploration of war and post-war life. The lovely English countryside serves as a backdrop for it all.
I didn’t particularly enjoy Portrait of Jennie (1948), which was another collaboration between Jennifer Jones, Jo Cotten, and director William Dieterle. I’m happy to report that I enjoyed this film much more!
Jones’ performance here impressed me a lot. She really grabs the viewer’s heart. The romance between her character and Cotten’s is lovely and heartfelt. They’re so sweet together and easy to root for, even with all of the issues (like memory loss) that they face.
Another strong performance is given by Ann Richards, appearing in a supporting role as Victoria’s closest friend.
In tone, the film reminds me somewhat of The Enchanted Cottage (1945), though with the incorporation of mystery rather than magic amidst the romance. Both are very heart-tugging stories of people with complicated pasts finding happiness together.
Love Letters‘ sweetness is bolstered by nice photography and a wonderful score.
The film does feel a bit long, but it generally did a pretty good job of keeping my interest. The mystery is resolved nicely in the end, too.
Love Letters is a graceful, elegantly written post-war romance. It’s not a melodrama of the Sirk type, but it still packs plenty of emotional punch. Recommended.