The Letter – 1940 – dir. by William Wyler
It is arguably one of the most famous opening scenes in movie history. Watch as The Letter, another boffo collaboration between the incomparable Bette Davis and director, William Wyler, lures us in with its soporific images: the drip-drip of a rubber tree plant’s sap, plantation slaves swinging lazily in sleepy hammocks, fingers slowly sliding across silent chess and checkers boards. And then — BANG!! BANG!! BANG!! BANG!! A woman is firing a barrage of bullets — more bullets than would ever be needed to kill anybody — and the witnessing Malay moon emerges from behind dark clouds to reveal the dead man and the rage-filled face of an unrepentant Davis. Just grand!!