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Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  13 September 1948 (Sweden)
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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 <>

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:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


"The Screen Guild Theater" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on March 10, 1949 with Joan Fontaine and Louis Jourdan reprising their film roles. See more »


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


Version of That's How My Life Ended (1952) See more »


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User Reviews

The reality of romance
15 November 2005 | by (gateshead,tyne and wear, england, uk) – See all my reviews

This is a well directed film from a director who appears to know what he needs from his actors, and camera operators. He especially manages to portray the lead character Lisa, played by the great Joan Fontaine very well. And Fontaine gives this renowned director what he wants. She plays both the vulnerable and later the hardened Lisa in her mature role adeptly. The very handsome Louis Jourdan, and the Vienna setting are turned into props by the director to exaggerate Lisa's vulnerability.

It is within Lisa's vulnerability that the audience can see how the concept of romantic love has been used to make women emotionally needy, which can then be taken advantage of by the likes of Jourdan's character Stefan. In the real world, romantic love becomes a commodity for transacting a deal which secures relationships. Therefore, women play up to the idea of romantic love, rather than succumb to it, and use it as a meal ticket for their security in a man's world. This is illustrated in the film by Lisa, who later marries a man for financial security, as well as respectability, as opposed to love.

After several viewings of this film, I have to say it's one of the best around!

20 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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