"Letty Lynton" 1932
Cast: Joan Crawford~Robert Montgomery~Nils Asther~Lewis Stone~May Robson~Louise Closser Hale~Emma Dunn~Walter Walker~William
Director: Clarence Brown
Costumes by Adrian
Box Office Figures for "Letty Lynton":
Cost: $347K ~ Domestic Studio Gross: $754K. ~ Foreign Studio Gross: $418K
Total: $1,172m. / Profit: $390K
If you have seen this movie, please write a review below. Once your review is submitted, I will post the review below. Thank
you for your review on this film.
Review: "Letty Lynton" is the ultimate Joan Crawford film and a cinematic treasure that tragically is not available
for sale or broadcast, due to a legal entanglement of decades in which it was said to infringe upon the play "Dishonored
Lady." This needs to be rectified so that this fascinating and important film can be restored to pristine condition
and seen in all its glory. Not only is it sublimely glamorous with Crawford attired in some of Adrian's most stunning creations,
leading designer Edith Head to call it "the single most important influence on fashion in film history," but it
is one of the most intriguing of the pre-Code films I've seen with an amazing performance from Crawford. Its lack of distribution
is an immense loss to film history and film lovers.
Crawford plays the title role, a wealthy heiress who has been living the "high life" in Montevideo, the capital
of Uruguay, with oily South American playboy Emile Renaul (Nils Asher). He is smitten with Letty, but she is bored and announces
that she's "had enough." This is a familiar game for him, since apparently Letty runs away and then sends him impassioned
love letters, but she insists that this time their affair is finished. While fleeing with her loyal maid Miranda (Louise Closser
Hale) on board a ship bound for New York, Letty meets genial, debonair Jerry Darrow (Robert Montgomery) who has the cabin
across the hall from hers. Both parties secretly arrange to be seated at the same table where Letty exchanges witty banter
with Darrow and together they take a brisk and playful walk around the deck. Their affection grows and after their weeks spent
together on board, they become engaged. To Letty's dismay, Renaul is waiting when their boat docks and makes clear to her
that he is not going to let her go, using her letters as blackmail. With all chances of her happiness threatened, Letty confronts
him in his room which leads to murder.
Along with giving a superb performance in a challenging role, Crawford is at her most stunning with that exquisite beauty
and girlish vivacity that was so enchanting in the 1930's, a personality that is now most familiar to viewers through "Grand
Hotel." This alluring and youthful quality and her gay laugh would pretty much disappear after the 30's. In later films,
she indeed still exudes charm and sex appeal, but the girlish, softer Crawford would give way to a hard-boiled image that
would become increasingly steelier as her screen and perhaps private persona toughened. What makes "Letty Lynton"
so astonishing is that because the tone of the film in the shipboard romance between Lynton and Darrow is so light and even
humorous, the murder scene and the viperish, feral Crawford that emerges there is shocking and intense. Her silent screen
experience really comes into play to make expression, eyes and body language transfixing and chilling, followed by very real
terror. "Yes, I did it! Yes, I did it!" she hisses as Renaul drinks the poison that she had intended for herself.
"I'm glad I did it, you dirty, filthy, greedy mongrel." Never have I seen Crawford quite this way, comparable only
perhaps to her turn in "A Woman's Face" and one wonders why, having shown her abilities, she wasn't given meatier
roles as opposed to the endless frothy concoctions she was served at this juncture in her career. When she emerges from behind
the doorway of the bedroom to confront Renaul, it is riveting like something out of "Nostrafu."
Crawford also has a genuinely touching scene when she is crying on the ship as "Silent Night" plays because
there are no messages for her for Christmas, her relationship with her mother strained and unloving (her image in the moonlight
in white dress against the background of sea and night sky is visually sumptuous and breathtaking). Montgomery is pleasant,
although his pairings with Crawford in this and other films are devoid of the sexual chemistry she had with Clark Gable and
even Franchot Tone. Asher is appropriately sinister and villainous, his dark looks aiding the authenticity of the characterization,
and Robson and Hale are wonderful in the supporting roles.
SPOILERS - Equally shocking and unusual for 1932 is the ending when Lynton is brought in for Renaul's murder where not
only does she lie, but is aided and abetted in the lie by both Montgomery and her mother (May Robson). In the final frame,
Miranda whistles the wedding march as Lynton and Darrow happily depart. Thus, as in "Rain," the essentially good
"bad" girl is not punished, but actually triumphs.
An absolute cinematic treasure that one hopes will be restored to the pristine print and release it sorely deserves.
Stars: 3 1/2 Stars
Review: Letty Lynton (Joan Crawford) plays a wealthy New York socialite who is vacationing in South America where she
meets a charming persuasive man named Emile Renaul (Nils Asther). Though not in love with Emile, she enjoys his company and
when she decides to return to New York. Emile tries to persuade Letty in staying with him. Letty refuses to be lured to stay
with Emile and returns on a ship to New York with her maid, Miranda (Louise Closser Hale). On the ship Letty meets a dashing
handsome young man named Jerry Darrow (Robert Montgomery) and a heated romance develops and before the boat can even dock,
the two are engaged to marry. Meanwhile, Emile has flown to New York and is waiting at the pier to great the woman he loves,
Letty Lynton. There is a great scene on the boat when Letty is filled with happiness with her new fiancÚ and she sees Emile
on the dock waiting for her. Her expression from happiness to sadness is priceless and so is the amazing black mink coat she
is wearing! Letty confronts Emile and he insists that she meet him later that night. Letty returns to live with her mother,
Mrs. Lynton (May Robson), whom she never had a close relationship with and Letty appears to have given up on trying. When
Letty does continue to avoid Emile, he comes to the Lynton mansion and threatens Letty with exposure of the letters to her
new fiancÚ if she does not come to his apartment that night. In despair, Letty goes to Emile's apartment taking with her some
poison in a vile--she plans to kill herself. Once at Emile's apartment, an argument breaks out and Letty secretly pours the
vile of poison into her wineglass. Deep in thought, Letty stares at the poisoned wine glass BUT before she can even pick up
the wineglass, Emile confuses the glass to be his own and drinks the poisoned drink. This is the best scene in the movie.
Letty realizes that Emil is going to die and stares at him wide-eyed waiting for his death. Once Emile realizes what happens
he attacks Letty but is too weak to get off his feet. " Yes! Yes! I did it! I meant it for myself. I'm glad I did it
you dirty, filthy, greedy mongrel. If I hang for it, I'm glad I did it" Letty hisses. That part is unlike any scene we
have ever seen our Joan play. It is so harsh and intense. Her words slide off her tongue like a tortured snake. Emile then
dies from the fatal brew and Letty flees the scene but before she leaves she tries to cover up that she was ever there. Joan
really played this part well panicking and fleeing the scene of a crime. An investigation develops and detectives who found
evidence that Letty forgot to discard of, track down Letty. Letty is then confronted with the evidence that clearly put her
at the scene of the crime. All looks doomed for Letty and her new found love but to her surprise, Jerry concocts an alibi
for Letty and to Letty's surprise, her mother backs it up. Letty and Jerry live.....happily ever after.:-)
Letty Lynton was released in 1932 and it was a huge hit for Joan. Joan was quoted in saying, " If there is ever a
"Joan Crawford' retrospective, I hope they show this movie." It's unfortunate that this isn't the case. The movie
ran into some legal copyright infringements and the rights of the movie were seized from MGM. This is why the movie was never
on VHS and it is such a rare movie. Who knows if this movie will ever surface again. The movie also featured some of the best
outfits ever to grace the big screen. Costumes by Adrian were just stunning and Joan wore the clothes so beautifully. Joan
also had two other huge credits to her career that year. Rain, which was critically acclaimed and way ahead of its time was
made that year and the Oscar-winning Grand Hotel was also released in 1932.
Below is a photo gallery from the movie "Letty Lynton."
Click on the images below to see them at full size.