Unless you are a diehard Joan Crawford or Robert Montgomery fan or know your MGM history you may never have heard of their film Letty Lynton. Letty Lynton has been unavailable to view since 1936 because of copyright issues and it is not to be released until 2025 (geez that is really long!). How, you may ask, did I happen to find a copy? Let’s just say I have my ways. When I found the film I did not even know it was so hard to find. I just went looking for it because of Crawford and Montgomery.
Letty Lynton (Crawford) has been living in South America with a very controlling man named Emile Renaul (Nils Asther). They have a very addictive relationship they simply cannot live without the other. Every time Letty has tried to leave Renaul she never gets very far and goes back to him. Letty finally has enough and truly leaves to return home to Long Island.
On the ship she meets Hale (or Jerry, he is called Jerry by his parents and Letty) Darrow. Their rooms are right across from each other. They both think the other looks familiar but they have never met before. Letty sends her maid to make sure she and Jerry are sitting next to each other at dinner and Jerry does the same thing. They have a great time together that night and for the two weeks they are on the ship. On the last night Jerry proposes to Letty and she says yes. For the first time in her life she is truly in love and is willing to change her ways for Jerry.
When the ship docks, Letty is shocked to see Renaul has gotten to New York before her and waiting for her. Letty’s shock and fear is captured by a newspaper photographer. Renaul will not leave her alone. He even follows her back to her apartment. He tells Letty to meet him at his hotel or he will publish some of her letters to him which are desperate and say how she cannot live without him.
Letty does not want these letters to get out and ruin her life with Jerry. She just goes to talk to him she had no intention of hurting him. She brought poison to kill herself if things did not go well. She poured it in a glass but Renaul picked it up and drank it.
The next day Jerry takes Letty up to Boston to his parents’ home. They immediately like her and she them since she does not have a good relationship with her mother. A detective from New York arrives at the house to bring Letty back to New York because the Distric Attorney wants to talk to her about Renaul’s death. Letty, Jerry, and her mother go to the DA’s office. He vehemently attacks Letty based off her letters and even reads one. Jerry defends her saying that he knew about her relationship with Renaul (although she never told him anything about it) and knew about the letters. He says that they were nowhere near Renaul’s hotel they were at a hotel together. The mother sees that Jerry and Letty really love each other so she tells the DA that she had followed them to the hotel to stop them that they should not start their lives together that way and that she had heard Renaul tell her daughter that if she did not come to his apartment that night he would kill himself. The DA believes the mother and also Letty’s maid who backs up the mother and he drops everything.
After all this Letty thinks Jerry does not want to be with her but he stays.
Not the most thrilling story ever. I just love that Letty literally gets away with murder… this is a Pre-Code after all. I read some reviews from people who have seen the film and they make it out to be one of those great lost gems of the cinema and that it is a really good film. The story was alright as was the acting it was nothing too great.
Joan Crawford was gorgeous. Her acting was not too bad her phony British accent was terrible. Whenever I look at Crawford though all I can think of is her being a loose woman not a wealthy society girl. I do not know why I see her in that way I am not saying that to be mean but for some reason I just see her that way I see her as a wild woman so when I see her play these wealthy ladies in nice clothing she just seems weird. Robert Montgomery did not really do anything for the story it felt like he was just there for decoration. I adore him I have yet to see him in a bad role. Before this film I had only ever heard of Nils Asther or seen him in a picture. He was so handsome. Asther was not in the film long for me to really gauge his acting but what I saw he was not bad.
Adrian designed Joan Crawford’s clothing. Her one white dress caused a sensation. It was so huge that it was copied and sold in clothing departments all over the US. Adrian’s clothes were beautiful, Crawford looked gorgeous in them. I really liked her last outfit in the film; it was a skirt and jacket ensemble with a hat. The outfit is nothing fancy but I just really liked it.
Letty Lynton is a film that I am glad I was able to find since it is not even available for TCM to run. As I said it is not a fantastic film but I have a feeling in thirteen years when the copyright has expired there will be a big deal about it being released. If you have your ways of finding movies like I do try to see Letty Lynton just to say you saw it.