Procrastination is a bitch. I mean, I seriously sit on things for too long, or maybe it is just that I have so much I want to do that I forget to prioritize. Either way, when Nate over at The Film Experience announced his lineup for upcoming 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot' entries, I knew that I wanted to participate, especially for this one. As soon as I saw 'The Letter' in the lineup I knew the shot I wanted to choose. So I guess, in this case, procrastination didn't hit me too hard since it was a VERY easy choice.
Before I unveil that pic (and yes, I'm going to stick to rules and not even show any other pics) I just want to note something. 'The Letter' may have the single best bookends to any film ever made in the history of forever, and I know that that is pretty intense hyperbole, but it is richly deserved. While censorship demanding the ending the film received, it is one of the rare times when that censorship actually works to the benefit of the film and leaves the viewer with such a haunting and lingering feeling. The film just blares into existence and then leaves us in a very similar yet contrasted way (similar actions, contrasted tones) that it feels so alive and so unbridled.
I will always have a soft spot for this film. It was one of the first classics that my wife actually watched with me. All too often I find myself alone at midnight watching TCM and wishing I has someone to share it all with (thank GOD for the cinematic blogging community), but one rainy night my wife said "I'll watch one of your black and white movies with you" and we settled on this one.
Anyways, on with my selection for BEST SHOT! Like I said, the bookends here are tremendous, but I didn't want to settle on a spoiler so I decided to highlight to opening scene.
This film is such a beauty. I mean, the lighting here is astonishing in EVERY scene, and there are a slew of iconic shots (that shot of Davis draped in the shadows of the blinds in particular) but this scene, and this shot, is so marvelously composed. Bette Davis was such a force, and her performance in 'The Letter' is easily one of her greatest moments. She has always had a way of using her unique facial features to act for her, but in this scene there is such a looseness to her body language that it bleeds such layers into her character. The way she commands the scene without feeling rigid or tense speaks volumes for who this woman is, and the very ride she is going to take us on. The gun, the light displayed in that shot; it all speaks to a brash and brazen confidence that is a blunt contrast, visually, to her languid stance. She's so comfortable, and that is the scariest part.