Gradually, she reveals to her husband’s best friend and lawyer that she had an affair with her victim. The plot becomes further complicated when the titular letter, proving the existence of her affair (and thus creating doubt about her “innocence”) falls into the hands of her lover’s terrifying Eurasian wife. She becomes desperate to seize the letter, uphold her image, and do anything to achieve these goals. The ending is really great and unexpected and Bette really was at the top of her game-playing a cunning, shrewd woman.
In this movie, Leslie is often seen tatting (creating lace). She begins the night of the murder, continues in jail and by the time with her covert meeting, is a beautiful shawl. Lacework is certainly an art, albeit a home art and one that is hugely unappreciated. Consider the massive discipline required to achieve such complex and beautiful patterns. I’m also fascinated by such home arts, because they’re so often not appreciated even though they require the time and the talents of your traditional arts.
Another aspect of art in this film is the incredible filming. There are many very intense camera angles and imagery created by the director. In one of my favorite scenes (reminding me a little of the cinematographic treatment of Mary Astor in The Maltese Falcon- click here for my post on the Falcon), Leslie stands in front of a window with blinds- creating jail-bar-like shadows across her face- representing her doomed nature and her underlying guilt that has brought on her damnation.
I don’t know who created the lace. I do know that Bette Davis was actually an avid crocheter- believe it or not. While it would be very interesting if she made the prop- I find it doubtful. Most likely, the artisan who created it will never go down in infamy- unlike Leslie’s character and of course, the immortal and beautiful Bette Davis.