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Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)

8.0
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 6,069 users  
Reviews: 54 user | 44 critic

A pianist about to flee from a duel receives a letter from a woman he cannot remember, who may hold the key to his downfall.

Director:

(as Max Opuls)

Writers:

(screenplay), (story), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Mady Christians ...
Frau Berndle
Marcel Journet ...
Johann Stauffer
Art Smith ...
John
Carol Yorke ...
Marie
...
Herr Kastner
John Good ...
Lt. Leopold von Kaltnegger
Leo B. Pessin ...
Stefan Jr.
Erskine Sanford ...
Porter
Otto Waldis ...
Concierge
Sonja Bryden ...
Frau Spitzer
Edit

Storyline

In Vienna, about 1900, a dashing man arrives at his flat, instructing his manservant that he will leave before morning: the man is Stefan Brand, formerly a concert pianist, planning to leave Vienna to avoid a duel. His servant gives him a letter from an unknown woman, which he reads. In flashbacks we see the lifelong passion of Lisa Berndle for him: first as a girl who was his neighbor; next as a young woman who, in secret, has his child; then as a mature woman who meets him again and abandons husband and son to be with him. Each time he does not remember who she is or that they have ever met. By morning, he has finished the letter, and her husband awaits satisfaction. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

letter | duel | pianist | flashback | 1900s | See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

13 September 1948 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Letter from an Unknown Woman  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Hideo Nakata considers this "the best film made in the entire movie history". See more »

Goofs

When Stefan and Lisa are riding on the train, the scenery from the window is an extended drawing of a landscape with mountains, trees and houses that manually scans across. See more »

Quotes

Stefan Brand: Honor is a luxury only gentlemen can afford.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Precious Images (1986) See more »

Soundtracks

Un sospiro
(uncredited)
Music by Franz Liszt
Played on piano by Louis Jourdan (dubbed by Jakob Gimpel)
Also used as main theme in the score
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Subversive Romance
28 August 2004 | by (Brooklyn, NY) – See all my reviews

This has to be one of my all time favorite films. Ophuls is perhaps the most graceful and elegant film-maker ever. Here in Letter from an Unknown Woman, he is at his most romantic. Though the romance is only a fantasy (and so beautifully subverted by Ophuls graceful choreography and merciless sense of irony), passion is nevertheless king (or queen). I have never seen a film celebrate love in quite this way. It reminds me of one of the most beautiful lines in cinema from Altman's "Gosford Park" when Sophie Thompson says, "I believe in love. Not just getting it... giving it. I think as long as you can love somebody, whether or not they love you, then it's worth it." Ophuls' entire film plays with this very notion. Lise's fanatical love (and obsession) is requited not by Stefan but by Ophuls himself, and of course by weepy viewers like me and hopefully you too.


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