Starring Jennifer Jones (Duel in the Sun) and Joseph Cotten (Peking Express), Love Letters is a romantic film noir about a lovely, trusting young woman who suffers from amnesia after her husband’s violent death. During World War II, Roger Morland persuades his friend Alan Quinton (Cotten) to write passionate love letters to Victoria Remington (Jones). Believing that Roger is the author of the letters, she marries him. Roger’s deception sets in motion a dire chain of events that locks Victoria in a world of fear and clouded memories. So begins a tale of intrigue, love and suspense, as Alan returns home in search of Victoria, the woman he loves. Once he finds her, can he risk driving her over the edge with the knowledge of her past life? Nominated for 4 Academy Awards including Best Actress (Jones), this gripping mystery thriller from director William Dieterle (I’ll Be Seeing You, Portrait of Jennie) and screenwriter Ayn Rand (The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged) both touches the heart and teases the mind.
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Love Letters makes its Blu-Ray debut thanks to Kino Classics with a brand new 1080p transfer from a 2K scan of the 35mm Fine Grain which holds up pretty decently. This film is over 75 years old, but this presentation is quite an achievement despite a few hiccups remaining after the remastering process. The biggest distraction comes in the form of some vertical lines plaguing a few frame edges in a scene or two. Other occasional stray lines and specks of damage remain, but most will be able to look past these limitations of the source material.
The new transfer exhibits a fine amount of depth and enhanced detail within the film’s composition. There is a substantial amount of detail present with textures on the clothing and within the production design. The black-and-white photography shot by Lee Garmes shimmers in high definition with natural grain intact and resolved well. Black levels are good with no major occurrence of crush or compression artifacts. The contrast is firmly defined with only momentary instances of flicker and density fluctuation in the print. Kino Classics has treated this one very well.
The Blu-Ray comes with an agreeable DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio track that captures the intentions of this feature well enough considering its vintage. Dialogue and background elements work in harmony with all competing sonic elements. The track shows a small bit of weakness when it comes to the score, which likely traces back to the age of the source elements. The music does not trod upon the dialogue or other important information. Viewers will be able to discern a minor amount of age related wear and tear and some faint hissing, but it is not a substantial issue throughout. Kino Classics has delivered a solid enough audio experience. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles included for the feature film.
- Audio Commentary: Entertainment Journalists/Authors Bryan Reesman and Max Evry deliver a really entertaining commentary track in which they talk about where this fits into the careers of the performers, the background of the ensemble players, the music in the picture, the themes on display and many other topics. This is a lively and well-researched track that is worth checking out.
- Trailers: There is a three-minute trailer provided for Love Letters. This disc also provides trailers for Since You Went Away, Duel In The Sun, Portrait of Jennie, Ruby Gentry, Indiscretion of an American Wife, A Farewell To Arms (1957), I’ll Be Seeing You, Under Capricorn, The Hellbenders, The Accused and The Turning Point.
Love Letters delivers a steady stream of engaging melodrama which is brought to life with a formidable leading pair of performers. Joseph Cotten is a good anchor as the unsteady veteran who is uncertain if he will ever be able to love the one he wants, but it is Jennifer Jones who will linger in your mind after the credits have finished rolling. William Dieterle brings it all together with his directorial flourishes that allow this one to not be another forgettable artifact of old Hollywood. Kino Classics has delivered a Blu-Ray release that sports a good A/V presentation and a nifty commentary track. If you enjoy classic Hollywood melodrama, be sure to check this one out. Recommended
Love Letters is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Kino Classics has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.