Letter from an Unknown Woman

Letter from an Unknown Woman Trailers

Original title Letter from an Unknown Woman
Category Drama
UK Release Date
Production year 1948
Production Country
Directors Max Ophüls
Cast Joan Fontaine, Louis Jourdan, Mady Christians, Art Smith, Howard Freeman, Erskine Sanford, Otto Waldis, Betty Blythe, Marcel Journet, Carol Yorke, John Good, Leo B. Pessin, Sonja Bryden
Distributor British Film Institute (BFI)


One of cinema's most achingly poignant romances, Max Ophüls' version of Stefan Zweig's novella is also, despite being shot in a Hollywood studio, one of the great films about fin-de-siècle Vienna. About to leave the city in order to avoid a duel, concert pianist Stefan Brand receives and reads a letter from a woman he can no longer remember – Ilse, who first nurtured a crush on him as a schoolgirl neighbour and whose later encounters with him were considerably more intimate… Both the flashback structure and Franz Planer's long, sinuous camera movements trap the lovelorn heroine – Joan Fontaine, magnificent throughout – within a cruel cycle of obsessive longing born of romantic fantasy (in which regard Louis Jourdan's suave, slightly shallow beauty fits Brand perfectly). A wry meditation on memory, misplaced desire and the options open to women in patriarchal society, the film is at once darkly ironic and deeply moving. – Geoff Andrew