8.0/10
9,945
66 user 63 critic

Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)

Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 13 September 1948 (Sweden)
Trailer
1:36 | Trailer

On Disc

at Amazon

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)
Reviews
1 win. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Le Plaisir (1952)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Three separate stories about the same thing: le plaisir (pleasure).

Director: Max Ophüls
Stars: Jean Gabin, Danielle Darrieux, Simone Simon
La Ronde (1950)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Vignettes revolving around a circle of interconnected love.

Director: Max Ophüls
Stars: Anton Walbrook, Simone Signoret, Serge Reggiani
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The diamond earrings of a French aristocrat, a wedding gift from her husband, cause a series of conflicts as they change hands repeatedly.

Director: Max Ophüls
Stars: Charles Boyer, Danielle Darrieux, Vittorio De Sica
Lola Montès (1955)
Biography | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Biopic of adventurer Lola Montès who ends up as a circus attraction after being romantically involved with famous European men.

Director: Max Ophüls
Stars: Martine Carol, Peter Ustinov, Anton Walbrook
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

After discovering the dead body of her teenage daughter's lover, a housewife takes desperate measures to protect her family from scandal.

Director: Max Ophüls
Stars: James Mason, Joan Bennett, Geraldine Brooks
Caught (1949)
Drama | Film-Noir | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

An L.A. department store ambitious young model gets her wish of marrying a millionaire but she eventually discovers that rich life isn't always a happy one.

Director: Max Ophüls
Stars: James Mason, Barbara Bel Geddes, Robert Ryan
Divine (1935)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A country girl starts to work as a chorus girl in Paris and then finds true love with a good-looking milkman.

Director: Max Ophüls
Stars: Simone Berriau, George Rigaud, Gina Manès
Comedy | Fantasy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Two ghosts attend an engagement party, unseen by the other guests. One ghost, Dupont, is the father of the bride-to-be. He looks back on his marriage to her mother. His wife Annette was ... See full summary »

Director: Max Ophüls
Stars: Simone Berriau, Catherine Fonteney, Laure Diana
Yoshiwara (1937)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The film is set in Yoshiwara, the red-light district of Tokyo, in the nineteenth century. It depicts a love triangle between a high-class prostitute, a Russian naval officer and a rickshaw man.

Director: Max Ophüls
Stars: Pierre Richard-Willm, Sessue Hayakawa, Michiko Tanaka
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

After an unhappy marriage, a woman of the world is forced to become a dancer in a cabaret in order to raise her young son.

Director: Max Ophüls
Stars: Edwige Feuillère, George Rigaud, Daniel Lecourtois
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A young salesman may inherit a wine-estate on one condition: he can't drink a drop of alcohol for at least a month.

Director: Max Ophüls
Stars: Lien Deyers, Heinz Rühmann, Ida Wüst
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Herr Werther, a new magistrate to the Grand Duchy of Walheim who is a violinist and poet, seems to have fate on his side as he meets and pursues a beautiful local woman, Charlotte. But as ... See full summary »

Director: Max Ophüls
Stars: Pierre Richard-Willm, Annie Vernay, Jean Galland
Edit

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
Edit

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 »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 September 1948 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Brief einer Unbekannten See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

In the novella of the same name, Lisa moved to Innsbruck, not Linz. 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: 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

Featured in At the Movies: 25 Years of Margaret & David (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Wiener Blut, Op. 354
(uncredited)
Music by Johann Strauss (uncredited)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
maybe one should coin this as "fatal romanticism"
1 July 2017 | by lasttimeisawSee all my reviews

Based on Stefan Zweig's novella, LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN is Max Ophüls' magus opus which fails to get its fair recognition upon its initial launch, but time will attest its superlative craftsmanship and stunning aesthetics.

The story itself has its beggar belief elements in its nexus prima facie, how can a man not remembering a woman who has thoroughly swept him off the feet, even just for a romantic and passionate one-night-stand? Maybe only real gadabouts can certify such occasion. But that is exactly where the story takes a leap of faith to accentuate the psychological disparity between man and woman, one is forever enticed by new possibility and ensconced in that living-for-the- moment benevolence while the other more often than not, caves in her chimera of reaching for the stars, when this occurs, thence tragedy ensues, maybe one should coin it as "fatal romanticism".

Under Ophüls' impeccable aesthetics, the film evinces great melancholy from its fin-de-siècle setting and punctilious guidelines, the swooning camera-work at hand swirls with its own propulsive vitality and takes no side-on glance at the periphery, homing in on its subjects, crystallizing every emotional pulsating to the fore of plenary niceties.

Joan Fontaine, scarcely credible to pass off as a teenager in the start (she was roughly 30 at that time), bides her time when her Lisa reaches adulthood, and buckles down henceforth, no matter what, she never loses her glamour and moderation, even in those pulverizing scenes of that twice- happened "two weeks curses", she is Hollywood Golden Age's screen goddess of profound implosion, an effort none-too elemental but totally falls in with Ophüls' soft-centred temperament. Louis Jourdan, kicks off his inchoate Tinseltown career with a character considerably shows his chops (although he is a few years junior to Fontaine, he tosses off the daunting job of acting well- above his real age without visible hiccups), a continent fop, debonair, talented and charmingly ingenuous, naturally women fall for him, and his downfall is that he can never be wisely selective, too many interludes, but no symphony.

Music, plays a heavy part to accompany the narrative flashback, solemn, stentorian and plaintive, Daniele Amfitheatrof's score cogently speaks volumes of our protagonists' inward feelings, and once more we are convinced that Max Ophüls absolutely knows how to chisel out something intrinsically dramatic and transmute it into a magnificent and endearing heartstring tugger.


4 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 66 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed