Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)

UCLA Film & Television Archive
Todd Wiener
1015 North Cahuenga Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90038-2616
Phone: 001 323 462 4921
Fax: 001 323 469 9055
e-mail: twiener@ucla.edu
?When you read this letter I’ll already be dead.? Thus begins a journey into the past and into the workings of a woman’s soul. The unknown woman is none other than Joan Fontaine, who gives a compelling performance as a naive child that grows into a mature woman. The story is simple. Lisa has been in love with concert pianist Stefan all her life ? but he doesn’t even know who she is. What started as a childhood crush gradually develops into a full-blown obsession. Ophüls’s elaborate camerawork, richly detailed narration and visual repetitions meant that the film was ‘too European’ for his Universal producer, who gave the film a small distribution only. Today Letter from an Unknown Woman is hailed as a masterpiece in the melodrama genre and is considered a textbook example of the point-of-view shot.

Director: Max Ophüls
Screenwriter: Howard Koch
Music: Daniele Amfitheatrof
Cinematography: Franz Planer
Editor: Ted J. Kent
Principal Cast: Joan Fontaine, Louis Jourdan

USA, Β & W
English 86’
Format: 35mm