Saturday, October 24, 2015

Letter from an Unknown Woman

Letter from an Unknown Woman is a 1948 Max Ophüls film starring Joan Fontaine and Louis Jourdan. It is told in a single extended flashback as the titular letter is read. I have little sympathy with women who pine away, devoting their lives to men who don't know they exist, so I find this plot annoying. Watching Louis Jourdan and Joan Fontaine, though, that's worth the simpering plot. But "All I wanted was to throw myself at your feet"? It's a bit much.

via Youtube:

Senses of Cinema closes with this: "The power of melodrama, and certainly of this melodrama, resides precisely in luring us to these realisations through the banal, the sugar-coated, and perhaps the even laughable desire of a certain unknown woman." Slant Magazine calls it "a melodramatic perfect storm." Time Out gives it 5 out of 5 stars and calls it a "grand, heartbreaking masterpiece". calls it "an icon of cinema scholarship" and "an exceptionally fine film". Empire Online says it, "Does the job of the perfect melodrama and moves the audience to tears." DVD Talk says it is "A genuine classic's classic, and a 'women's film' that completely transcends that pigeonhole category".

The New Yorker compares this director to Wes Anderson. This film is listed in the book 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. TCM has an overview. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%.


  1. I have to agree with you about women who pine away for men who have no idea they exist. However, it looks like Rotten Tomato reviewers don't seem to agree with us. Maybe it's, as you said the actors that make up the difference.

    1. If you like melodrama, this one's perfect. One of those classic "women's movies" that was never my favorite genre. It's definitely a tearjerker.