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
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 »
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 »
In Vienna in 1900, Stefan Brand must face a duel the following morning. He has no intention of defending his honor however and plans to flee the city when he notices that he has received a letter from someone in his past. A struggling concert pianist at the time he met Lisa Berndle when she was just a teenager living next door. Brand has had many women in his life however and unaware that Lisa is genuinely in love with him, forgets all about her. They meet again but he only vaguely remembers ever having met her. Unknown to him she bears his child and eventually marries a man who knows of her past but loves her very much. When she runs into Brand many years later her love for him resurfaces and she is prepared to abandon her son and husband for him. Tragedy follows. Written by
In 1992, Letter from an Unknown Woman was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". See more »
Much of Max Ophüls' elegant Vienna, so affectionately and painstakingly presented here, vanished during the First World War, but much remains today, the baroque accoutrements, the omnipresent aura of devout Catholicism, the genteel amusements of the Prater, and, of course, the music. In that respect, the musical, Vienna has never emotionally quit the time of Emperor Franz Josef.
The photography here is luminous, so befitting since Joan Fontaine has probably never been more radiant. The film seems custom-made for her demeanour, as early on she plays the mild girl of modest means, the one with that expression like a frightened doe. This is the kind of portrayal which served her so well in "Rebecca" and "Suspicion".
She gains confidence and poise as the story progresses, but the reticence remains. Therein lies the story's drama.
At her height of prosperity, she dons a fur coat of purest white, as white as the helping of Schlagobers which accompanies a Viennese cup of Schokolade. As pure of hue as an unsullied white rose. But the purity of the whiteness is illusory. Franz Kafka was beginning to write at about this time in the Cisleithanian city of Prague to the north; he clearly understood the symbolism implicit in fur. Joan's security is undermined by the illicit secret from her past.
Stefan Brand's dumb manservant is an enigmatic figure. He would seem to be the embodiment of all the emotions left unstated by the principal characters. So much goes unsaid in Max Ophüls' charming Austro-Hungarian tragedy.
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