18 December 2014 | JLRMovieReviews
Better Late than Never - Find "The Letters"
"The Letters," this 1973 TV movie is told in three stories which have a common factor – they all received a letter a year late due to the carrier plane crashing. Story #1: We see married couple John Forsythe and wife Jane Powell. He is going on a business trip, but when he gets on the plane, we see him hold hands with the lady already sitting there, Lesley Ann Warren. Oh, John! While on his business trip and rendezvousing with Lesley, he writes a "Dear John" letter to Jane, but never mailed it. He then winds up going back to her, when he can't see a real life with children with Lesley. When Lesley sees he has accidentally dropped it, she has her own agenda that may hurt all of them. Story #2: Leslie Nielsen is a concert pianist, or at least wants to be. He has talent, but is undiscovered. Dina Merrill, who loves him, tells him it will happen. But Dina's rich sister Barbara Stanwyck sinks her teeth into Dina's love life and Stanwyck really packs a wallop with her spunky but brief role. And, Barbara mails a letter that will not surface for a year and will give someone the upper hand. Story #3: Ida Lupino is Pamela Franklin's controlling but loving mother who only wants the best for her when she tells Pamela's beau to hightail it out of town or she'll put him in jail for an accidental death he caused that he's wanted for out of the state. He ultimately leaves and learns something about himself in the process, thereby writing Pamela a letter. All three stories are modest yet very engrossing little vignettes. Some are more effective. Some are more melodramatic than others. All gave good performances, even John Forsythe who usually doesn't emote much. Stanwyck of course is a highlight. The second story is the most unsatisfying maybe, due to its superficial and unlikeable characters. The film, on the whole, was very entertaining, but you're not very likely to ever see this on TV now or know anything about it, unless you find this at a DVR website. If you do decide to get it, you won't be disappointed. I would watch it again. Movies like this always make me yearn for the more simpler time and life of the 1970s and 80s when everything was so completely different. This may seem to be undemanding but that also is its charm. Simple stories of simple yet multi-layered people who make mistakes and learn from them – a year later.