The Unfaithful (1947 film)

The Unfaithful is a 1947 film noir directed by Vincent Sherman and starring Ann Sheridan, Lew Ayres and Zachary Scott. The film is based on the W. Somerset Maugham-penned 1927 play and William Wyler-directed 1940 film, The Letter.[4]

The Unfaithful
Theatrical release poster
Directed byVincent Sherman
Produced byJerry Wald
Screenplay byDavid Goodis
James Gunn
Based onThe Letter
1927 play
by W. Somerset Maugham
StarringAnn Sheridan
Lew Ayres
Zachary Scott
Music byMax Steiner
CinematographyErnest Haller
Edited byAlan Crosland Jr.
Release date
July 5, 1947 (1947-07-05TUnited States)[1]
Running time
109 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2,250,000 (US rentals)[3] or $2,972,000[2]


Chris Hunter (Ann Sheridan) stabs a man in her home one night while her husband Bob is out of town. The dead man's name is Tanner and she claims not to know him and to have acted in self-defense.

Art shop owner, Martin Barrow (Steven Geray), contacts Chris' lawyer and good friend Larry Hannaford (Lew Ayres). Barrow shows Hannaford a bust of Chris Hunter's head, signed by Tanner, and attempts blackmail. It turns out Tanner had been a sculptor, and it is now evident to Hannaford that Chris has lied about never knowing the man she killed.

After learning about the bust, Chris goes to Barrow to try to take possession of it. But, Barrow has taken the piece to Tanner's wife (Marta Mitrovich), who is now convinced Chris had an affair with her husband and wants Chris punished for murder. Barrow convinces her to create more anguish for Chris by relaying this information to Bob Hunter (Zachary Scott), thinking also that the wronged husband would pay to avoid scandal. When Bob learns about the affair and sees the bust, he confronts Chris at home. After she admits to having an affair with Tanner while Bob was away during the war, he demands a divorce.

Chris is charged with murder and tried. Hannaford persuades the jury that while Chris was indeed guilty of adultery, she truly did stab Tanner in self-defense. Hannaford then convinces Bob, who has softened a bit on the idea of divorce after a long talk with his cousin, Paula, and Chris to at least consider trying to save their marriage, rather than rushing into a divorce.



Box office

According to Warner Bros records, the film earned $1,939,000 domestically and $1,033,000 in foreign.[2]

Critical response

The New York Times gave the film a mixed review: "The Warner Brothers have turned out a better than average murder mystery in The Unfaithful, but they have badly over-weighted with melodramatics the things they obviously wanted to say about a pressing social problem. The new picture at the Strand stabs and jabs like a hit-and-run prizefighter at the subject of hasty divorces and the dangerous consequences to society of this ill conceived cure all for marital difficulties, but it never gets across a telling dramatic punch. However, through some uncommonly persuasive acting and skillful direction the patently artificial plot stands up surprisingly well."[5]


  1. "The Unfaithful (1947) Detail View". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  2. Warner Bros financial information in The William Shaefer Ledger. See Appendix 1, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, (1995) 15:sup1, 1-31 p 27 DOI: 10.1080/01439689508604551
  3. "Top Grossers of 1947", Variety, 7 January 1948 p 63
  4. The Unfaithful at the TCM Movie Database.
  5. The New York Times, film review, June 28, 1947. Last accessed: November 18, 2009.
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