Letter from an Unknown Woman

In the opening credits of this 1948 old-Hollywood classic, the legendary German director’s name is Americanised as ‘Max Opuls’. Somehow it’s appropriate, because from its painstakingly designed interiors to its sweeping, fluid camerawork, from its overblown score to its devastating central performances, ‘Letter From an Unknown Woman’ is suffused with opulence. But this is no Sternbergian exercise in glamour: in telling of young Viennese dreamer Lisa (Joan Fontaine) and her desire for an unattainable man (Louis Jourdan) and the high-style world he inhabits, Ophüls comes down on the side of the outsider, those of us with our noses pressed up against the glass. So for all its florid melodramatic trappings, this grand, heartbreaking masterpiece resonates with sad, simple truths: just because one can appreciate beauty, that does not make one beautiful, and just because one loves does not mean one is loved.

Release details

Rated: U
Release date: Friday February 12 2010
Duration: 90 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Max Ophüls
Screenwriter: Howard Koch
Cast: Carol Yorke
John Good
Louis Jourdan
Joan Fontaine
Marcel Journet
Art Smith
Mady Christians

Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:3
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|6
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Donald Marhefka

Joan Fontaine was at her best (and loveliest) in this movie. She played the part of a 14 year old girl who was in love with an older man to perfection. Then she played the part of an 18 year old young woman to perfection. Ten years later, she was radiant as a now married woman. Lisa (Joan Fontaine) spent her whole life loving a man who didn't know she existed. As the result of a one night stand, she bore his male son. But, he never met the son and didn't even know he existed until he received the letter. A great movie. Easily in my top 20.

Donald Marhefka

Joan Fontaine was at her best (and loveliest) in this movie. She played the part of a 14 year old girl who was in love with an older man to perfection. Then she played the part of an 18 year old young woman to perfection. Ten years later, she was radiant as a now married woman. Lisa (Joan Fontaine) spent her whole life loving a man who didn't know she existed. As the result of a one night stand, she bore his male son. But, he never met the son and didn't even know he existed until he received the letter. A great movie. Easily in my top 20.

E A Dobson

Joan Fontaine was a screen goddess,even more so than her sister and they`re both still alive as i`m writing this,amazing! can`t think of anyone in present times who even comes close.Highly recommended,i love the scene on the fake train ride.

E A Dobson

Joan Fontaine was a screen goddess,even more so than her sister and they`re both still alive as i`m writing this,amazing! can`t think of anyone in present times who even comes close.Highly recommended,i love the scene on the fake train ride.