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The Lost Moment (1947)

Not Rated | | Drama, Film-Noir, Romance | 21 November 1947 (USA)
An publisher insinuates himself into the mouldering mansion of the centenarian lover of a renowned but long-dead poet in order to find his lost love letters.



(screenplay), (based on the novel "The Aspern Papers")


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Cast overview:
William Edmunds ...


In a long flashback, a New York publisher is in Venice pursuing the lost love letters of an early-19th-century poet, Jeffrey Ashton, who disappeared mysteriously. Using a false name, Lewis Venable rents a room from Juliana Bordereau, once Jeffrey Ashton's lover, now an aged recluse. Running the household is Juliana's severe niece, Tina, who mistrusts Venable from the first moment. He realizes all is not right when late one night he finds Tina, her hair unpinned and wild, at the piano. She calls him Jeffrey and throws herself at him. The family priest warns Venable to tread carefully around her fantasies, but he wants the letters at any cost, even Tina's sanity. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

21 November 1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Henry James based the story on an anecdote he had heard when he was in Florence, Italy, in 1879. "Claire" Clairmont, the half-sister of Percy Bysshe Shelley's wife Mary Shelley and the mother of Lord Byron's daughter Allegra, was still alive and related how an unscrupulous Shelley devotee had posed as a lodger in order to find any unpublished papers. After the aged Claire died, her niece offered the papers to him, but at a price. See more »


When Lewis rescues Juliana from the fire, Juliana's stunt double can be seen grabbing onto Lewis and helping him carry 'her' out. See more »


Lewis Venable: In that fearfully incredible moment I knew I had plunged off a precipice into the past. That here was Juliana beyond belief, beautiful, alluring, alive. How strange this was, this Tina, who walked dead among the living and living among the dead, filling me with a nameless fear! I had a sudden impulse to turn and leave, and then I remembered the letters.
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Referenced in Myra Breckinridge (1970) See more »


Fenesta che lucive
Music by William Cottrau (or Vincenzo Bellini)
Sung by Enrico Caruso
In love scene between Lewis and Tina
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User Reviews

Remarkable Atmosphere
10 February 2002 | by See all my reviews

This little film is bursting with atmosphere, brooding, wistful, corrupt, overflowing with decay, betrayal and regret. A studio better known for its westerns and horror movies is here responsible for a major gem of delicacy and suggestion.

What makes all this remarkable is that the screenplay is a classic example of Hollywood's idiotic dumbing-down of a major work of fiction, Henry James's novella "The Aspern Papers" (based in turn on the life of Lord Byron). To compare James's brief story with the film is so sad it's almost painful, yet the movie survives and succeeds through sensitive style and sturdy professionalism.

The studio sets are evocative of a time before Venice became an international theme park, and the director's experience in radio drama provides a more finely-judged soundtrack than was the norm.

If your nerve-endings are not already terminally blunted through today's cinematic overkill, this film will prove richly rewarding.

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