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

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Movie Info

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.

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Critic Reviews for Letter From an Unknown Woman

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (23)

Audience Reviews for Letter From an Unknown Woman

  • Jul 05, 2014
    A man receives a letter from a woman he's known, wooed, seduced ... and forgotten. A classic Hollywood melodrama set in romantic old Vienna and handled deftly by director Max Ophuls, who keeps the usual violin chorus down to a discreet tone, allowing for a full feeling of how romance blossoms and then is carried with one. A heady potion for this chick flick about sacrifice, yearning and denial that's as close to fine wine as you'll get. Joan Fontaine and Louis Jordan embody the mood wonderfully.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Apr 29, 2009
    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.
    Stephen M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 04, 2009
    Very sad, literally could not tear myself away from this one.
    Nicki M Super Reviewer
  • Sep 10, 2008
    You have to feel this movie.It's been quite some time and the leftovers are sheer gratitude of the melodrama of our protagonists.Ophuls conquered Hollywood by reversing the stereotypical mechanisms and bringing a fresh air.Fontaine may shine for example yet it's that tormenting the personality she possesses ,you can't bare handling her inner burden of her "lost",solid,possibly inapt love.
    Dimitris S Super Reviewer

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