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Letter From An Unknown Woman [DVD]

Joan Fontaine , Louis Jourdan , Max Ophüls    Universal, suitable for all   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
Price: £7.49 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Letter From An Unknown Woman [DVD] + Madame De... [DVD] + Le Plaisir [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: Joan Fontaine, Louis Jourdan, Mady Christians, Marcel Journet, Art Smith
  • Directors: Max Ophüls
  • Writers: Max Ophüls, Howard Koch, Stefan Zweig
  • Producers: John Houseman, William Dozier
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Second Sight
  • DVD Release Date: 18 Sep 2006
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000HCO57K
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,734 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Stefan Brandt (Louis Jourdan) recalls his relationship with Lisa (Joan Fontaine) when he receives a letter from her in turn-of-the-century Vienna. The letter tells how Lisa fell in love with him as a girl, but was devastated when, after spending the night with him, he vanished from her life. A chance encounter years later rekindled her passion, but led to further heartbreak.

Product Description

United Kingdom released, PAL/Region 2 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), SPECIAL FEATURES: Black & White, Featurette, Interactive Menu, SYNOPSIS: 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 nocturnal journey, the letter arrives. It begins, 'By the time you read this letter, I may be dead.' As Stefan sits back in his study to read this letter, it turns out to be a confession of unrequited love from Lisa. The story flashes backs to when Lisa was 14 years old and Stefan was her neighbor. After following Stefan with a girlish obsession, the romance gets much more serious, and they have a brief encounter. Stefan promises to come back to her after a concert tour, but he never does. Meanwhile, Lisa marries another man when she discovers that she is pregnant with Stefan's child. When she runs into Stefan years later, he doesn't remember her and tries to seduce her. After Stefan reads the letter, he wants to rush to her side, but now poor Lisa is dying from typhus. ...Letter from an Unknown Woman

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
77 of 78 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This film has got to be one of the most hauntingly beautiful films ever made. Starting with the line 'By the time you read this Letter I'll be dead', it relates the tale of a young woman (Joan Fontaine)'s love for a brooding pianist (Louis Jordan). This heart-breaking tale spans several decades from the time of their first meeting while she is still a child, to the night they spend together, and finally to the time of this letter's arrival. Joan Fontaine is stunning as the teenager who grows to maturity, always loving the man whose music used to delight her as she sat beneath his window, pretending he was playing only for her; while Louis Jordan is superb as the initially brilliant, temperamental pianist who becomes jaded and despised, apparently the victim of his own talent. The brief time they are together creates a warmth that pervades the whole film: one gets the sense that these people are truly meant to be together, and yet, even then, one knows that it will be her reticence and his fecklessness that are their downfall. She is the woman who could save him from himself, but is unable to speak of how she really feels, and he senses that there is more to her than to those women to whom he is generally drawn, but never values her sufficiently to find out the love of which she is really capable. The delight of the time they are together contrasts sharply with the pain of their separations: she acknowledges and knows the cause of this pain, while his life simply becomes increasingly problematic, his behaviour more erratic, while he searches for the meaning he can only find in her love. It is only through this letter that he realises what he could have had, and that it is too late to attain happiness. However, it is as a result of this letter that he is able to recognise who she was, and, to some extent, to requite her love.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Re-discover the true spirit of 'Romantic' cinema 11 July 2008
By Mr. G. C. Stone VINE VOICE
Modern Hollywood tells us that romances are just product for women - guns for boys, love for girls. Forget that, and instead go back to when films were made with intelligence, had depth and meaning, and could keep you enthralled by a great story, beautifully brought to the screen and impeccably acted. Here we trace a life-long quest of unrequited love, and the painful recognition that sometimes when we get what we want, reality can fall short of our ideals. In Hollywood land we get our emotional roller-coaster rides, crisis near the end, and a lovely resolution. In the grown up world of great cinema we know that redemption is possible, but often only when it is too late.....
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Tragedy. 19 Dec 2013
By Spike Owen TOP 500 REVIEWER
Letter from an Unknown Woman is directed by Max Ophuls, who also co-adapts the screenplay with Howard Koch from the novella written by Stefan Zweig. It stars Joan Fontaine, Louis Jordan, Mady Christians, Art Smith and Howard Freeman. Music is by Daniele Amfitheatrof and cinematography by Franz Planer.

Masterpiece, the very definition of classic cinema is right here, a film that is both beautiful and tragic, a piece of cinema that's crafted with such great skill by all involved it's hard to believe some critics turned their noses up at it back on its original release.

Story is set in Vienna at the turn of the century and finds Lisa Berndle (Fontaine) as a teenager who has a crush on one of the neighbours in her apartment complex. That neighbour is concert pianist Stefan Brand (Jourdan), but Lisa will not get to know Stefan until some years later, and then only briefly, yet true love never dies does it?

The scene is set right from the off, the superb set designs of period Vienna come lurching out of the screen. Jordan stands straight backed and handsome, and then Fontaine a picture of angelic beauty. Ophuls brings his euro eye for details and flair to the party, his camera work fluid, yet compact, personal but still a distant and caustic observer to the corruptible folly of romantic obsession. And Planer mists up the photogenics as Amfitheatrof drifts delicate and dramatic sounds across the unfolding drama.

Narratively most of the picture is played out in the past, showing how Stefan Brand came to be reading a heart aching letter from a woman who loved and adored him. Not that he would know, such was his life of womanising and narcissistic leanings.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic film! 24 Jan 2009
By Helena
It's hard to believe that the film was made over 50 years ago. Fantastic film made in a beautiful setting (Vienna) with beautiful music on the background, it makes all the difference to some modern films. Two main characters live in their own surreal world that is far from reality. It has a similar story line to 'Anna Karenina'. Highly recommend.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Romantic classic 1 May 2009
This without doubt" letter from an unknown woman" one of the great classic romantic films. Starring at their best is Joan Fontaine and Louis JourdanBut the real star is the director Max Ophuls.This film is beautifully and very tenderley directed. It's one of my favourites.The ageing of Joan Fontaine is so well done. My favourite scene in the film is when they take a train journey in a train carriage with continous back projected hand painted scenery.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch and Learn, Film Maker 31 Mar 2014
By Mario
It's closer to the nature of music or opera in fact apart from the sublime deceptive simplicity of its structure and formal purity. The theme of thwarted love is the stuff of classicism and perhaps in such a me me me age in the west, in one way the giving everything for 'my' love should play well. But of course, from the first moment this is doomed in the ultimately self-denying sense so it is very differently romantic from the emptiness we see around us. However, there are lots of conflicted issues beneath the beauty of the surface including the old old tale of male sexual indulgence and feminine desire constructed very differently. She, the willing victim. But he, at last realising with a kind of ironic awareness at his own resignation that the gods are playing with us. One of those 'perfect' films when everything is in order. His failure to 'see' is the point even when it is there before him on three key occasions. Like all classical drama also has its very clever moments of comment where others of course can 'see'.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A fantastic story by Stefan Zweig
Published 15 days ago by Mrs. H. Wilson
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring
I was bored by this film which I think I saw snippets of on television over a decade ago. There is nothing to commend it. Don't waste your time if you're a Joan Fontaine fan. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Samuel Barber
4.0 out of 5 stars great film classic jumpted a bit towards the end
really enjoyed this classic film quality of film ok but towards the end film started to jump but would recommend this film if you feel you need a good cry
Published 1 month ago by Helen McKean
5.0 out of 5 stars love it
one of my absolute favorite films a wonderful love story , couldn't wait to watch it, made my 23year old daughter watch it with me and she felt it was a bit weird felt it was about... Read more
Published 4 months ago by read-a-lot
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite film?
Wonderful artistry. Perfect combination of photography, design, music, and acting. Ophuls was a genius, and Joan Fontaine is just beautiful. What a clever actress she was.
Published 4 months ago by ANDREW MARTIN
5.0 out of 5 stars They don't make them like this anymore
This film has stuck in my mind for many years. I decided to buy it to see if it was as good a I had remembered. It was just as wonderful now as it was then. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Hebe
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fontaine tour de force.
I have read the reviews for this film and once again I am puzzled why people record a negative if what the reviewer comments upon does not quite live up to their expectations or... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Wilberfalse
5.0 out of 5 stars WONDERFUL
Wonderful movie. One of my favourites. The atmosphere created by Max Opus is superb. I really does look like Joan Fontaine ages from a young girl into an adult distinguished woman.
Published 17 months ago by Bill
5.0 out of 5 stars Heaven sent or an easy lay
On the face of it the plot is simple. Lisa, a school girl living in Vienna develops a crush on Stefan, the musician living in an upstairs apartment, and spends her life determined... Read more
Published on 26 Dec 2011 by Four Violets
5.0 out of 5 stars At Long Last
It has taken easily a half-century for a film which had no great reception at the time of its release to find its rightful place in the cinema pantheon. Read more
Published on 4 Sep 2011 by Colin Thurlow
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