In the Paris of the late 19th century, Louise, wife of a general, sells the earrings her husband gave her as a wedding gift: she needs money to cover her debts. The general secretly buys ... See full summary »
Vittorio De Sica
Three stories about the pleasure. The first one is about a man hiding his age behind a mask to keep going to balls and fancying women - pleasure and youth. Then comes the long tale of Mme ... See full summary »
An all-knowing interlocutor guides us through a series of affairs in Vienna, 1900. A soldier meets an eager young lady of the evening. Later he has an affair with a young lady, who becomes ... See full summary »
This symbol-filled story, filmed with sensuous detail and nuance, is set in Austria in the 1920s. While being treated for asthma at a country spa, an American diplomat's lonely 12-year-old ... See full summary »
Klaus Maria Brandauer
In the late 1800's, Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, falls for Sophie Chotek, a Czech countess. He's already a problem to the Crown because of his political ideas; this... See full summary »
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
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.
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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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