Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  13 September 1948 (Sweden)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 7,563 users  
Reviews: 57 user | 53 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.


(as Max Opuls)


(screenplay), (story), 1 more credit »
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Complete credited cast:
Marcel Journet ...
Art Smith ...
Carol Yorke ...
Herr Kastner
John Good ...
Lt. Leopold von Kaltnegger
Leo B. Pessin ...
Stefan Jr.
Erskine Sanford ...
Otto Waldis ...
Sonja Bryden ...
Frau Spitzer


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 | pianist | duel | neighbor | 1900s | See All (193) »


Drama | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

13 September 1948 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Brief einer Unbekannten  »

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?


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


Lisa Berndl: Suddenly in that one moment, everything was in danger, everything I thought was safe. Somewhere out there were your eyes... and I knew I couldn't escape them. It was like the first time I saw you. The years between were melting away.
See more »


Remake of Narkose (1929) See more »


"The Magic Flute'
Composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart'
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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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