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Letter From an Unknown Woman

Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 3
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 0



liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 2,462

My Rating

Movie Info

Perhaps the finest American film from the famed European director Max Ophüls, the film stars Joan Fontaine as a young woman who falls in love with a concert pianist. Set in Vienna in 1900, the story is told in a complex flashback structure as the pianist, Stefan Brand (Louis Jourdan), comes upon a letter written to him by Lisa Berndl (Fontaine), a girl who has been in love with him for years. Stefan is in the process of fleeing Vienna on the eve of fighting a duel. As he prepares himself for the


Drama, Romance

Howard Koch, Stefan Zweig

Oct 16, 2012

Universal Pictures

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All Critics (24) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (21) | Rotten (0) | DVD (3)

Of all the cinema's fables of doomed love, none is more piercing than this.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A breathtaking, bitter, exquisitely orchestrated exploration of love and selfishness by Max Ophuls.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

...a women's picture that nonetheless turns on male chauvinism.

March 7, 2013 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm

[Max] Ophuls' first personal project in Hollywood and he injects this exquisitely stylish romantic melodrama with his continental sensibility.

February 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Parallax View
Parallax View

A moving weepie woman's picture.

February 11, 2012 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

A weepie like they don't make them like anymore.

February 16, 2010 Full Review Source: Independent

One of Hollywood's, and cinema's, grandest and most emotionally satisfying tales of unrequited love and self-sacrifice.

July 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

One of the greatest achievements in American film.

November 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Remarkable romantic drama.

August 8, 2008 Full Review Source: Classic Film and Television
Classic Film and Television

Does the job of the perfect melodrama and moves the audience to tears.

September 23, 2006 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine


March 19, 2004
Movie Mom at Yahoo! Movies

In the hands of Max Ophuls, the stuff of penultimate melodrama becomes the stuff of exquisite observation and contemplation.

October 1, 2003 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Gorgeously mounted Ophuls film.

September 11, 2003
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

An atmospheric and unsettling mix of European style and Hollywood muscle, this is a beautifully shot and thought-provoking film about lost love.

May 24, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4

Beneath the film's beauty lies the type of love that obsessed Ophuls: the unsuccessful kind.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: San Francisco Examiner
San Francisco Examiner

Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948) is the classic romantic film - a lush tearjerker par excellence - of the bittersweet theme of unrequited, lost love

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Tim Dirks' The Greatest Films
Tim Dirks' The Greatest Films

Watching it is like finding a locket you thought you had lost, one which contains the picture of someone who once broke your heart.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Audience Reviews for Letter From an Unknown Woman

One of the most heartwrenching melodramas I've seen. I actually had to contain myself from shedding tears, witnessing the passion, intensity and beauty it exudes.
September 27, 2012

Super Reviewer

Very sad, literally could not tear myself away from this one.
May 12, 2009

Super Reviewer

A young girl's infatuation with a womanizing concert pianist ends in tragedy. What I like best about this elegant weepie is the way that it gently subverts Fontaine's typical screen persona. At first glance, her character is every bit as mousy and vulnerable as usual, but behind this façade lies a remarkably strong-minded young woman; she knows what she wants and - flouting all respectability, and against her own better judgement - she sets out to get it. Although the film chooses not to dwell on the ensuing scandals, on more than one occasion she sacrifices her good name and social standing for the man she loves. I also like the way that Ophüls credits us with intelligence enough to draw certain parallels for ourselves, without spoon-feeding. A good example of this would be the scene where Fontaine says goodbye to her son at the railway station; many lesser directors would have inserted a flashback to her abandonment by Louis Jourdan at this point, or at the very least a snippet of dialogue from that earlier scene.
April 29, 2009

Super Reviewer

a sad haunting quality hangs over the film which fits the story well
April 13, 2007
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Brief einer Unbekannten (DE)
  • Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948) (UK)
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