I’ve been wanting to recreate the invitation letters and evidence packet along with the weapons and briefcase. Wadsworth reads his letter which, in part at least, says: “It will be to your advantage to be present on this date, because a Mr. Body will bring to an end a certain long-standing, confidential, and painful financial liability. Sincerely, a friend.”
We also know via dialogue from Ms. Scarlet and Mrs. White that the letters contained the address for the mansion and instructions to not use their real names and to refrain from discussing any personal information.
With that knowledge, I’ve surmised that the letters are formatted like this:
On [insert date here], a dinner party will be held at the Hill House estate, right off Route 41 in Massachusetts. You are invited as a guest to this event. Your host asks that you use an alias [insert alias of choice here] for the evening and also kindly asks for you to refrain from discussing any personal information with the other guests.
It will be to your advantage to be present on this date, because a Mr. Body will bring to an end a certain long-standing, confidential, and painful financial liability.
Sincerely, a friend.”
Now comes the tricky part. What date does the party take place on? There are a few clues that point to a few possibilities. When Wadsworth walks into the house, the screen displays that the movie is set in 1954. In this same scene, Wadsworth goes to the kitchen to check up on the cook and she is sharpening her knives and watching the TV. The man speaking on the television is Senator Joseph McCarthy. If you listen closely you can hear him say “...professors and teachers who are getting their orders from Moscow...”. After a quick Google search, I found that McCarthy made this statement in a hearing on June 9th, 1954.
“Problem solved, then” you ask? Not exactly. While the TV is broadcasting real footage from that date, there are other bigger details that lead me to believe the party is actually set later in 1954. The film opens with the guests arriving right as a terrible rain and thunderstorm sets in. Also, there is fog when Plum picks up Scarlet. There is also leaves falling and leaves on the ground when Wadsworth arrives. All signs of it being early fall. The guests’ attire supports this theory, with almost all arriving clad in topcoats, hats, scarves, and gloves. I’ve never lived in New England during the summer, but I don’t think heavy coats and scarves are exactly a part of people’s summer wardrobes in the 1950s, even when the sun has gone down. Also, setting a murder mystery during the fall just seems appropriate to me.
With that said, I think the party takes place on an evening in late September or early October. But if you want an exact date, I think going with the date of the McCarthy hearing is perfectly acceptable as well.