My favorite of the three stories in A LETTER TO THREE WIVES is the story of ‘Porter’ (Paul Douglas) and ‘Lora Mae’ (Linda Darnell). The courtship and marriage of Porter and Lora Mae gets more screen time than the other two stories, so maybe it was Joseph Mankiewicz’ s favorite too!
Porter is the self made man who falls for one of his employees,Lora Mae who will settle for nothing less than marriage. To Porter she is very calculating and they both, in a way, see their marriage as an arrangement. Even the way he proposes – “Ok, you win – I’ll marry you. How about it?”. Lora’s laconic reply is “Thanks – for nothing”. Porter adds,”We’ll do alright,kid.You’ve made a good deal,Lora Mae.”
When they are married, they are always sniping at each other and Lora Mae thinks it is Porter who has ran off with the never seen “Addie Ross” – despite her mother’s protestations that Porter really loves her.At the Country Club dance,Porter admits it was him who went off with Addie, but came back – “A man can change his mind,cant he.”
Having said earlier to Lora Mae, “To you, I’m just a cash register”, he now admits, “Ok, you got it – they all heard me say I ran away with another woman” – so convinced is he she is only after his money. But Lora Mae shows she does love him by telling him to forget it.The future looks brighter for them – perhaps they will be able to understand each other a little better.
Linda Darnell and Paul Douglas are first class in their roles.
There are great scenes too with Connie Gilchrist as Lora Mae’s mother and Thelma Ritter as Connie’s friend.
Connie and Thelma play cards in Connie’s kitchen. They live next to a railway track and the trains pass right outside the kitchen window. As a train goes by,everything in the room shakes, but the two ladies dont bat an eye: Connie stands with beer glass in hand till the train passes. A very funny scene, especially when Paul Douglas experiences it and looks as if an earthquake has struck!
Connie and Thelma almost steal the film. A pair of pros who take full advantage of the scenes given to them.
So, a happy ending, with the sweet tones of the absent Addie (Celeste Holm) having the last word:
“Hi, ho – goodnight,everybody.”