Some Rhyme Effects by Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Has anyone ever commented on the symmetries between A Letter to Three Wives and The Honey Pot? Having just reseen the former on “the first Saturday of May” (a key phrase in the film) a short time after reseeing the latter, I’m thinking not only of the similar letters sent to three former girlfriends in The Honey Pot, but also of the numerous guessing games and various false-herring clues liberally scattered through the clever dramaturgy of both films, not to mention the respective roles played by Shakespeare (Twelfth Night) in the earlier comedy and Ben Jonson (Volpone) in the latter movie. Of course the differences are just as important as the similarities: the three wives are all friends and the letter sent to them is from an unseen narrator who propels the action; the three girlfriends are rivals and summoned to Venice by a very present Rex Harrison. But the attraction for Mankiewicz of returning to the principle of three women (with an absent temptress and Maggie Smith playing the respective roles as jokers) must have been irresistible. [5/7/22]

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