Letter from an Unknown Woman
Film critic and historian David Thomson is the author of more than twenty books, including The New Biographical Dictionary of Film.
Joan Fontaine, Louis Jourdan, Mady Christians, Marcel Journet,
A turn-of-the-century Vienna set, with its spiral staircases, mirrors, and elaborate grillwork, becomes a haunting chiaroscuro canvas for cinematographer Franz Planer and a thematic showcase for Max Ophuls in this classic Hollywood “woman’s picture.” Joan Fontaine portrays a young woman, Lisa, who builds an adolescent infatuation into a lifelong passion for a concert pianist (Louis Jourdan) who is barely aware of her existence. Lisa’s life is like the carnival ride that takes the couple, on their only night together, through the countries of Europe, a fantasy of movement that is really a circular stasis.