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Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)

Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 16 July 1948 (Mexico)
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1:37 | 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:

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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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 July 1948 (Mexico) See more »

Also Known As:

Brief einer Unbekannten See more »

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Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$852
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The opera Lisa and Johann go to is "The Magic Flute" by Mozart. 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: Oh, if only you could've recognized what was always yours, could've found what was never lost. If only...
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Age of Innocence (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
Max Ophulus' American Masterpiece
4 July 1999 | by RigorSee all my reviews

All of Ophulus films are remarkable achievements of content and form, but, this film is certainly his greatest contribution to cinema in the USA, and arguably his greatest film of any period. It is the intoxicatingly bittersweet tale of the obsessive love a young girl (Joan Fontaine) develops for a rougish pianist (Louis Jordan) that remains throughout each charcters life, long after most school-girl crushes have faded away. Fontaine charcter is so convincingly and sympathetically drawn that we are pulled into her desire for this rather self-possessed artist against our own rational thoughts. And as the film progresses Fontaine's attraction to the artist begins to deepen and humanize the audiences response to him. This film is deeply concerned with a woman's role under patriarchy and the limitations of "romantic" love as a form of fulfillment. It is also a well thought out examination of the idea of the "artistic" life as offering the possibilities of either liberation or entrapment.


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