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  • 4 months later...

From: Monart Pon To: Starship Forum Subject: [Starship_Forum] [Movies] Ayn Rand's "Love Letters" Date: Sat, 19 Jan 2002 18:01:37 -0700

Last night we watched again a video of an old 1945 black-and-white movie, "The Love Letters", the screenplay to which was written by Ayn Rand, using a story idea she was asked to convert for a movie. Whatever the original idea was that remained with the screenplay, the movie was an Ayn Rand love story. The dialogue was hers, and so was the characterization of the heroine, whose depiction by Jennifer Jones hints of the Marilyn Monroe to come.

All throughout "Love Letters" are dialogue that may have come out of any of her stories. Parts of it remind me of her "The Husband I Bought". One line from the heroine I remember is (paraphrasing): "You know what the secret of happiness is? Just two words: Be yourself."

Ayn Rand had finished Fountainhead a couple years ago, 1943, and the consequent cultural uprising was just being conceived. If "Love Letters" were to be made over again today with the sophisticated methods and forms of modern movie production, the impact of Rand's screenplay would be even more realistic and dramatic. For example, the more profound dialogue should be spoken more slowly, with better emphasis. And the outdoor scenes would really be outdoors. But who would play Victoria?

Rand has a treasure-trove of stories to be made into culturally invigorating movies, especially Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead of course, but also her lesser known stories like Red Pawn and Anthem.

I've heard some years ago that, Kerry O'Quinn, the publisher of STARLOG (a sci-fi magazine) had plans and rights to produce Anthem, but I haven't heard anything more since. I could imagine how earth-shaking and exhilarating a modern movie of Anthem might be, in a culture that has made popular movies like The Matrix, The Postman, Waterworld, and The Road Warrrior. If I were a movie producer... But I digress...

If you haven't seen "Love Letters", and you're a romantic, you would enjoy it. It's worth ignoring the production flaws which we modern viewers may find distracting. But it was made 60 years ago, and its themes are timeless, like all of Rand's themes.

Below is the write-up from the box.

Monart Starship Aurora <http://www.starshipaurora.com>

"Love Letters" "Jennifer Jones delivers an Oscar-nominated performance in this love story / psychological drama about a lovely, trusting young woman who suffers from amnesia after her husband's violent death.

"During Wordl War II, Roger Morland (Robert Scully) persuades his friend Alan Quinton (Joseph Cotten) to pen passionate love letters to Victoria Remington (Jones). Believing that Morland is the author of the letters, she marries him. But Morland'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 Quinton returns home in search of Victoria, the woman he loves. But once he finds her, can he risk driving her over the edge with the knowledge of her past life? William Dieterle directs Ayn Rand's fast-paced screenplay that envelope the viewer in an unforgettable romance / murder mystery that both touches the heart and teases the mind."

Produced by Hal B. Wallis 1945 1 hr 42 min Available from MCA Universal Home Video

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I finally saw Love Letters in its entirety a few months ago. I liked it and kept getting glimmers of Cyrano as it went along, so I dug into researching it.

Love Letters actually is Rand's version of Cyrano de Bergerac.

She grafted the Cyrano plot on to the original story since she did not care for amnesia as a theme. I remember her saying something about this. I think it can be found in Ayn Rand Answers, but I would need to look it up to be sure.

Rand did a good job of it, too. 

Except for the final line.

I don't want to downplay Rand's early work, but that line is a clunker. It jumped out at me when I finished watching the whole movie and made me say to myself. "Ergh..." I actually said that. :) 

The line comes after the big reveal. At the very moment Victoria (Jennifer Jones) remembers who she is and realizes she is in front of her true love, Alan (Joseph Cotten), who has just asked for her forgiveness for the letter-writing deception, she is overcome with emotion and falls into his arms. As she hugs him, she says:

Quote

It was terrible waiting for you, but finding you is such a great miracle that anything I suffered seems only a small payment in return.

Only then comes the kiss.

You can see Jennifer Jones doing what she can with the line, but that was one tough assignment. She doesn't even look at Alan except at the start of the line. She looks skyward as she is hugging him. Man does that whole moment clunk. Well, the swelling romantic music kind of carries it.

I can imagine Rand raising hell with everyone back then to leave the line in place, too, since it sums up the theme.

:) 

To be fair, that line would have been OK in a later discussion between Victoria and Alan, after they had had hugged and kissed and allowed the emotion to swell and die down. But not right at the instant of the surprise reveal and sudden memory recovery. A simple "Oh my God!" would have worked. Or to do it Randian-style, "Oh my dearest!" then the big kiss, hugs and more kisses as the music swells and fade-out.

You don't milk a sudden strong emotion with the character describing how the trader principle works.

:) 

But Rand was young and still getting her mojo.

The only other place I remember a moment that clunked that hard to me in Rand's work was in Atlas Shrugged right after Dagny and Hank had slept together for the first time. They took turns giving each other a long speech. Randall Wallace, when he was hired to do the screenplay (which was not used), tactfully called those speeches "huge, long waterfalls of words and descriptions." Then he cut the speeches and simply had Dagny slap Hank hard when he started in and told him never to apologize to her. That worked. :) 

btw - You can read about that here on OL: Who is Randall Wallace?

It's a shame they did not film Randall's version of AS. I have a feeling it would have been far better than what ended up being filmed.

Michael

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  • 3 months later...

Long gone but not forgotten. Rod Stewart worked in the family shop and as a newspaper delivery boy. He then worked briefly as a labourer for Highgate Cemetery, which became another part of his biographical lore. He worked in a North Finchley funeral parlour and as a fence erector and sign writer. In 1961 he went to Denmark Street with The Raiders and got a singing audition with well-known record producer Joe Meek, but Meek stopped the session with a rude sound. Stewart began listening to British and American topical folk artists such as Ewan MacColl,

Maggie May. Do you think I’m sexy? Sailing. Forever Young. The way you look tonight. Have I told you lately. Some guys have all the luck. Tonight’s the night. Every beat of my heart.   

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