Several movies are titled The Love Letter, but my hands-down favorite is Hallmark Hall of Fame’s romance that aired in 1998. What’s not to love when a movie blends mail, history and fantasy in one heady brew?
Scott Corrigan (Campbell Scott) and Elizabeth Whitcomb (Jennifer Jason Leigh) “live and love one another across time”—she in Civil War era America, he in the present day, connected by a writing desk that transports Elizabeth’s letters to Scott via a secret compartment. Scott mails his replies from an old postal substation (always late at night), using antique stamps. If you’d like to try contacting the past this way, the postage rate as of July 1, 1863 was 3¢ (in the Union States anyway), and you can find the right stamps on eBay.
“I ache for a love that burns like fire and moonlight” sounds hokey written here, but in the film, the line works. The movie’s charm draws us into a world of passion by pen, and the plot offers enough twists and turns to carry the story.
Beautiful costumes and sets abound in Elizabeth’s 19th century landscape, balanced by the lush colors of a New England autumn in Scott’s era. And the letters have a richness all their own, heavy cream-colored stationery, steel-nibbed pens, and crimson sealing wax. I swear my pulse quickened every time someone opened an envelope!
As love letters go, you could do worse than open this one from Hallmark.
Film Friday: Let me know if you give The Love Letter your stamp of approval.
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