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Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)

Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 13 September 1948 (Sweden)
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), (novel)
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1 win. See more awards »

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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.
...
Porter
...
Concierge
Sonja Bryden ...
Frau Spitzer
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Storyline

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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

pianist | letter | duel | 1900s | neighbor | See All (190) »

Taglines:

This is the love every woman lives for...the love every man would die for!

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:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Quotes

Stefan Brand: Promise me something.
Lisa Berndl: Anything.
Stefan Brand: And I don't even know where you live. Promise me you won't vanish.
Lisa Berndl: I won't be the one who vanishes.
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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
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User Reviews

 
Vienna, the Eternal City
22 October 1999 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

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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