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Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)

Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 13 September 1948 (Sweden)
Trailer
1:36 | Trailer
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)
Reviews
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.
Erskine Sanford ...
Porter
Otto Waldis ...
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 son and husband for him. Tragedy follows. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

letter | pianist | duel | love | 1900s | See All (192) »

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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was adapted from the original Stefan Zweig novella by screenwriter Howard Koch.The film is mostly faithful to the book, though featuring minor divergences.The most noted divergence is a structural change: there is no duel in the original story, nor is there a character such as Johann. The "unknown woman" from the book never marries, but lives off a series of lovers who remain unnamed and mostly unintrusive. See more »

Quotes

Lisa Berndl: The course of our lives can be changed by such little things. So many passing by, each intent on his own problems. So many faces that one might easily have been lost. I know now that nothing happens by chance. Every moment is measured; every step is counted.
See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

Radetzky-Marsch, Op. 228
(uncredited)
Music by Johann Strauss Sr. (uncredited)
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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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