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Letter From An Unknown Woman [DVD]


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: 10,192 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 78 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 29 Sep 2001
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 By Mr. G. C. Stone VINE VOICE on 11 July 2008
Format: DVD
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 By Spike Owen TOP 500 REVIEWER on 19 Dec 2013
Format: DVD
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 By Helena on 24 Jan 2009
Format: DVD
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 By A. L. Rebbeck on 1 May 2009
Format: DVD
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 By Mario on 31 Mar 2014
Format: DVD
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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