An intense and lush romantic film made by the incomparable Ophuls during his often trying sojourn in America in the WWII and immediate postwar years. Fontaine plays Lisa, who has a brief encounter with and falls for her pianist neighbor Stefan (Jourdan). As he heads off on a concert tour,
Stefan promises to return for her, but that doesn't happen. Lisa holds out as long as possible but is forced to marry another man when she discovers that she's pregnant with Stefan's child. She meets the pianist some time later, but he doesn't remember her and sets about seducing her all over
again. The story is told in flashbacks as Stefan reads a letter from Lisa as she is suffering from typhus, and he finally learns her entire story.
The first film from the production company formed by Fontaine and William Dozier, LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN has an unusually persuasive Continental look to it. Its lyrical, sweet sadness and incredibly lovely mise en scene are typical of Ophuls at his best. His meaningful, highly deliberate
camera wanderings beautifully capture the sorrows of Lisa's entrapment by cultural norms. The direction and Koch's well-judged screenplay admirably manage to retain an ironic edge despite the potent romanticism of it all. Fontaine has never looked lovelier and gives what is probably the greatest
performance of her career. The dashing and persuasive Jourdan and a fine cast ably support her, as does the incredible camerawork of regular Ophuls collaborator Franz Planer. Although CAUGHT and THE RECKLESS MOMENT are films of considerable merit, LETTER is almost certainly Ophuls' greatest
American film. Watching it is like finding a locket you thought you had lost, one which contains the picture of someone who once broke your heart.
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- Review: An intense and lush romantic film made by the incomparable Ophuls during his often trying sojourn in America in the WWII and immediate postwar years. Fontaine plays Lisa, who has a brief encounter with and falls for her pianist neighbor Stefan (Jourdan). A… (more)