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Letter From an Unknown Woman

Released Sep 13, 1948 1h 30m Romance List
100% Tomatometer 25 Reviews 85% Audience Score 2,500+ Ratings
In early 20th-century Vienna, Stefan Brand (Louis Jourdan) is about to leave the city because he faces a duel that he wants no part of. However, before he can do so, he gets an anonymous love letter that changes his life. Though Stefan is moved by what he reads, he doesn't realize that it was written by Lisa Berndle (Joan Fontaine), a young woman he has known but disregarded for most of his life. When he finally figures out who his admirer is, it may be too late to prevent a tragedy. Read More Read Less
Letter From an Unknown Woman

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Critics Consensus

Golden Age Hollywood romance doesn't get much better than Letter From an Unknown Woman, a powerful tale of doomed love.

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Critics Reviews

View All (25) Critics Reviews
Anthony Quinn Independent (UK) A weepie like they don't make them like anymore. Rated: 5/5 Feb 16, 2010 Full Review David Fear Time Out Rated: 6/6 Jan 18, 2008 Full Review David Parkinson Empire Magazine Does the job of the perfect melodrama and moves the audience to tears. Rated: 4/5 Sep 23, 2006 Full Review Dennis Harvey 48 Hills The trifling romantic-melodrama story nonetheless provided an ideal vehicle for the sumptuous mobile-camera style of Max Ophuls... Feb 2, 2024 Full Review David Walsh World Socialist Web Site [Ophuls] is renowned for his restless, mobile camera. ... As an active, "oppositional" element, mobility is associated, among other things, with Ophuls's attitude toward Viennese (and German) society ... May 12, 2021 Full Review Nicholas Bell IONCINEMA.com For once, Fontaine's anguish seems justified, ensconced in Ophüls' signature tracking shots. Rated: 4/5 Aug 27, 2020 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

View All (172) audience reviews
Leaburn O Upon quick reflection it will be obvious that she should have tried a bit harder to make this relationship work. Instead we get a load of melodramatic nonsense and bittersweet sentimentality. Watched this one on BBC iPlayer. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 10/09/23 Full Review Thomas V Another well executed, very mannered Ophuls opus, but I didn't like this one because the love story just isn't credible, in my opinion. This hasn't aged well, but it's worth seeing for the execution of it. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/03/23 Full Review Audience Member I watched it but wished I hadn't. Terrible movie don't waste an hour and a half on it. Rated 1 out of 5 stars 01/14/23 Full Review william d I'm a Joan Fontaine fan, but this movie is just plain boring. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review William L As someone that normally hates melodrama, Letter from an Unknown Woman is a great piece of romantic tragedy. Ophüls depicts a love that is somehow even less than unrequited - it is returned only superficially and for brief moments of passing fancy rather than outright rejected, whereas the passion of Fontaine's Lisa is intense, long-lasting, and durable to the point of self-harm. The relationship between Lisa and Jourdan's Stefan is ill-starred, and doomed from the start, but Lisa cannot help to be drawn to the artistic romanticism that Stefan provides, even if his interest is little more than a veneered lust. Seeing Lisa suffer at the hand of Stefan's casual indifference (coupled with her reluctance to inconvenience him with the truth of their past) is a truly distressing experience, and not one easily forgotten. Ophüls provides excellent direction to effectively characterize their intense, fated pairing (even if throwing in a perfectly behaved lovechild with a tragic, completely separate demise feels somewhat cheap), delivering a film that can make even the experienced romantic a bit sniffly. And dang, that was one long letter. (4/5) Rated 4 out of 5 stars 04/19/21 Full Review Audience Member well probably too outdated. i am a fan of the 2 stars, lj and jf but the movie moved down to drivel, at times and all i could think was, some man wrote this drivel-the dialogue was pretty bad. and the story line seemed like an attempt to imitate or a take-off/variation of anna karenina. it is worth watching if u have nothing else to do, if only for the a historical aspect aspect OR how to write a bad movie Rated 2 out of 5 stars 01/29/23 Full Review Read all reviews
Letter From an Unknown Woman

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Cast & Crew

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Movie Info

Synopsis In early 20th-century Vienna, Stefan Brand (Louis Jourdan) is about to leave the city because he faces a duel that he wants no part of. However, before he can do so, he gets an anonymous love letter that changes his life. Though Stefan is moved by what he reads, he doesn't realize that it was written by Lisa Berndle (Joan Fontaine), a young woman he has known but disregarded for most of his life. When he finally figures out who his admirer is, it may be too late to prevent a tragedy.
Director
Max Ophuls
Producer
John Houseman
Screenwriter
Stefan Zweig, Howard Koch
Distributor
Criterion Collection
Production Co
Universal International Pictures
Genre
Romance
Original Language
English
Release Date (Theaters)
Sep 13, 1948, Original
Release Date (Streaming)
Mar 10, 2017
Runtime
1h 30m