The Letter

  • Directors: William Wyler
  • Producers: Hal B Wallis
  • Writers: Howard Koch, Based on the play by W Somerset Maugham
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery
  • Actors: Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, James Stephenson

On a moonlit night in the opening scene, Leslie Crosbie (Bette Davis), the wife of a British rubber plantation manager in Malaya, shoots and kills a man whom her male servant recognizes as Geoff Hammond (David Newell). She tells the servant to send for her husband Robert (Herbert Marshall), who is working at one of the plantations. Her husband returns, having summoned his attorney and a British police inspector. Leslie tells them that Geoff Hammond “tried to make love to me” and she killed him to save her honor.

Leslie is placed under arrest and put in prison in Singapore as a matter of form to await trial for murder. Everyone believes she acted heroically, with the exception of her attorney, Howard Joyce (James Stephenson), who seems to be rather suspicious of her motives. Howard’s suspicions seem justified when his clerk Ong Chi Seng (Victor Sen Yung) shows him a copy of a letter Leslie wrote to Hammond the day she killed him, informing him she would be home alone that evening and pleading with him to visit her. Ong Chi Seng tells Howard that the letter is in the possession of Hammond’s widow (Gale Sondergaard), a Eurasian woman who lives in the Chinese quarter of town. Howard then confronts Leslie with the damning evidence and forces her to confess to Hammond’s cold-blooded killing; but Leslie cleverly manipulates the attorney into agreeing to buy back the letter.

In a dazed state after the pressure of the trial and her confrontation with Robert, Leslie wanders out into the moonlight and begins walking outside the gate almost as if she knows that someone is waiting for her. There she meets Mrs. Hammond and her henchman. Mrs Hammond kills her with a knife, after the henchman has overpowered her. As the two attemp to silently slip out, they are confronted by a policeman who question their whereabouts. The policeman tells the two to move along and both walk away from the scene. The clouds which hid the moons rays, darken the area where Leslie Crosbies body was killed. In the end, the clouds open and the moons rays shine at the area where her body lays but no one is there to see her body.

Sergeant York

  • Directors: Howard Hawks
  • Producers: Howard Hawks, Jesse L Lasky, Hal B Wallis
  • Writers: Harry Chandlee, Abem Finkel, John Huston, Howard Koch
  • Genres: Biography, Drama, History, War
  • Actors: Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan

Alvin York (Gary Cooper), a poor Tennessee hillbilly, is an exceptional marksman, but a ne’er-do-well prone to drinking and fighting, which doesn’t make things any easier for his patient mother (Margaret Wycherly). He undergoes a religious awakening and turns his life around, assisted by Pastor Rosier Pile (Walter Brennan).

When York is drafted into the army for World War I, he tries to avoid induction as a conscientious objector due to his religious beliefs. His status as a true conscientious objector is rejected since his church has no official standing and he reluctantly reports for army basic training. During basic training, his superiors find out that he is a phenomenal marksman and promote him to corporal.

York still wants nothing to do with the army and killing. A sympathetic commanding officer lectures York about text from a U.S. history book. He gives York temporary leave to go home and think about fighting to save lives. York wants to read the U.S. history book and the officer gives it to him. He tells York that after his leave if he still doesn’t want to fight he will discharge him from the army. York reads the book, decides he will serve his country and reports back for duty. York decides to leave it in God’s hands, but still doubts he can kill someone because of his interpretation of the bible.

York later explains that he did what he did to hasten the end of the war and minimize the killing.

Casablanca

  • Directors: Michael Curtiz
  • Producers: Hal B Wallis
  • Writers: Play, Murray Burnett, Joan Alison, Screenplay, Julius J Epstein, Philip G Epstein, Howard Koch, Casey Robinson
  • Genres: Drama
  • Actors: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid

Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) is a bitter, cynical American expatriate in Casablanca. He owns and runs “Rick’s CafГ© AmГ©ricain”, an upscale nightclub and gambling den that attracts a mixed clientГЁle of Vichy French and Nazi officials, refugees and thieves. Although Rick professes to be neutral in all matters, it is later revealed that he had run guns to Ethiopia to combat the 1935 Italian invasion, and fought on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War against Francisco Franco’s Nationalists.

Ugarte (Peter Lorre), a petty criminal, arrives in Rick’s club with “letters of transit” obtained through the murder of two German couriers. The papers allow the bearer to travel freely around German-controlled Europe and to neutral Portugal, and from there to America. The letters are almost priceless to any of the continual stream of refugees who end up stranded in Casablanca. Ugarte plans to make his fortune by selling them to the highest bidder, who is due to arrive at the club later that night. However, before the exchange can take place, Ugarte is arrested by the local police, under the command of Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains), a corrupt opportunist who later says of himself, “I have no convictions … I blow with the wind, and the prevailing wind happens to be from Vichy.” Unbeknownst to Renault and the Nazis, Ugarte had entrusted the letters to Rick because “… somehow, just because you despise me, you are the only one I trust.” (Ugarte dies in police custody without revealing the location of the letters.)

Major Strasser drives up by himself, having been tipped off by Renault, but Rick shoots him when he tries to intervene. When police reinforcements arrive, Renault pauses, then tells his men to “Round up the usual suspects.” Once they are alone, Renault suggests to Rick that they leave Casablanca and join the Free French at Brazzaville. They walk off into the fog with one of the most memorable exit lines in movie history: “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”