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:

Max Ophüls (as Max Opuls)

Writers:

Howard Koch (screenplay), Stefan Zweig (novel)
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2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Joan Fontaine ... Lisa Berndle
Louis Jourdan ... Stefan Brand
Mady Christians ... Frau Berndle
Marcel Journet Marcel Journet ... Johann Stauffer
Art Smith ... John
Carol Yorke Carol Yorke ... Marie
Howard Freeman ... Herr Kastner
John Good John Good ... Lt. Leopold von Kaltnegger
Leo B. Pessin Leo B. Pessin ... Stefan Jr.
Erskine Sanford ... Porter
Otto Waldis ... Concierge
Sonja Bryden 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

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:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Based on the novella of the same name. In the novella, Lisa has a tradition of sending Brand white roses every birthday. At the start of the novel, Brand has just turned 41 (and forgotten about his birthday). This is significant because the absence of white roses confirms Lisa's death at the time of reading. See more »

Goofs

While most signs in the movie are written correctly in German, since the movie is set in Austria, parts of them are in English, e.g. Stefan Brand's concert flyer, which says "Concert Program" instead of "Konzertprogramm". See more »

Quotes

Lisa Berndl: Now I'm alone. My head throbs and my temples are burning. Perhaps God has been kind, and I too have caught the fever. If this letter reaches you, believe this - that I love you now as I've always loved you. My life can be measured by the moments I've had with you and our child. If only you could have shared those moments, if only you could have recognized what was always yours, could have found what was never lost. If only...
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Soundtracks

Kiss Waltz
(uncredited)
Music by Johann Strauss
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User Reviews

The reality of romance
15 November 2005 | by alexandra-25See all my reviews

This is a well directed film from a director who appears to know what he needs from his actors, and camera operators. He especially manages to portray the lead character Lisa, played by the great Joan Fontaine very well. And Fontaine gives this renowned director what he wants. She plays both the vulnerable and later the hardened Lisa in her mature role adeptly. The very handsome Louis Jourdan, and the Vienna setting are turned into props by the director to exaggerate Lisa's vulnerability.

It is within Lisa's vulnerability that the audience can see how the concept of romantic love has been used to make women emotionally needy, which can then be taken advantage of by the likes of Jourdan's character Stefan. In the real world, romantic love becomes a commodity for transacting a deal which secures relationships. Therefore, women play up to the idea of romantic love, rather than succumb to it, and use it as a meal ticket for their security in a man's world. This is illustrated in the film by Lisa, who later marries a man for financial security, as well as respectability, as opposed to love.

After several viewings of this film, I have to say it's one of the best around!


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 July 1948 (Mexico) See more »

Also Known As:

Letter from an Unknown Woman See more »

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Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$852
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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