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Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)

8.0
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 6,518 users  
Reviews: 56 user | 51 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:
...
...
...
Marcel Journet ...
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
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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 | pianist | duel | neighbor | 1900s | See All (177) »

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:

Brief einer Unbekannten  »

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 »

Quotes

Stefan Brand: Have you ever shuffled faces like cards, hoping to find one that lies somewhere, just over the edge of your memory? The one you've been waiting for? Well tonight when I first saw you, and then later when I watched you in the dark, it was as though i'd found that one face among all the others. Who are you?
See more »

Connections

Version of Lettre d'une inconnue (2001) 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

 
Max Ophulus' American Masterpiece
4 July 1999 | by (Chicago, USA) – See all my reviews

All of Ophulus films are remarkable achievements of content and form, but, this film is certainly his greatest contribution to cinema in the USA, and arguably his greatest film of any period. It is the intoxicatingly bittersweet tale of the obsessive love a young girl (Joan Fontaine) develops for a rougish pianist (Louis Jordan) that remains throughout each charcters life, long after most school-girl crushes have faded away. Fontaine charcter is so convincingly and sympathetically drawn that we are pulled into her desire for this rather self-possessed artist against our own rational thoughts. And as the film progresses Fontaine's attraction to the artist begins to deepen and humanize the audiences response to him. This film is deeply concerned with a woman's role under patriarchy and the limitations of "romantic" love as a form of fulfillment. It is also a well thought out examination of the idea of the "artistic" life as offering the possibilities of either liberation or entrapment.


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