Letter from an Unknown Woman' DVD, Joan Fontaine (1948), New & Sealed
An admirable scene sums up the whole movie:Stefan and Liza are aboard a 'train' and they 'travel'.It's actually a fixed train,and some kind of stagehand forwards a chocolate box scenery :Venice ,Switzerland... In the real world ,train are ominous messengers of death and despair:it's a train which takes Stefan away after their affair,a train which takes the young boy to his death.
Stefan (Jourdan)lives his selfish life without seeing anything.Ophuls(spelled Opuls in the cast and credits) shows him as a handsome nice young man,but if you look with care,you'll notice it's always Liza(Fontaine)who's looking at him with love.Jourdan seems to care but actually he knows so many women that he acts as if he's in a play:Liza's admiration means nothing to him who is a ladykiller-see the scene when Liza comes back from the station- and a celebrated musician adulated by the crowds.Liza is the romantic woman,with a zest of touch of Madame Bovary thrown in -it's not a coincidence if Minnelli chose Jourdan as Madame Bovary's lover in his eponymous movie the very same year-For her,there must be only one love ,and she's prepared to give it all.
Joan Fontaine had perhaps never been so good as here.Her whole life ,as she writes her letter (the movie is a flashback ) could have been written in the past conditional.Main influence is certainly that of John Stahl and his 'only yesterday' (1933)in which Margaret Sullavan wrote John Boles such a letter.Even the young boy is present in both movies.The last page of the letter,ink-stained (or tear-stained?)takes the audience to a peak of emotion.The final predates the ending of Ophuls's 'Madame de' (1953),and the scene in the 'train' ,an imitation of life ,the big circus of 'Lola Montes' (1955)
This is probably Louis Jourdan's best part as well.A French actor,he was never that much popular in his native country ,and he found his best parts in the US ,be it artistically (Ophuls ,Hitchcock and Minnelli) or commercially (Octopussy) speaking.
Director: Max Ophüls
Joan Fontaine .... Lisa Berndl (misspelled Berndle in end credits)
Louis Jourdan .... Stefan Brand
Mady Christians .... Mrs. Berndl (misspelled Berndle in end credits)
Marcel Journet .... Baron Johann Stauffer
Art Smith .... John
Carol Yorke .... Marie
Howard Freeman .... Herr Kastner
John Good .... Lt. Leopold von Kaltnegger
Leo B. Pessin .... Stefan Jr.
Erskine Sanford .... Porter
Otto Waldis .... Concierge
Sonja Bryden .... Frau Spitzer
Coding: All Region Code / PAL Format (Please make sure your dvd player can play PAL format's dvd)
Video: 4:3 Fullscreen
Audio: Dolby Digital / AC-3 / 5.1 Surround Sound
Subtitles:English / Simplify Chinese / Traditional Chinese / French (Removable)
Colour: Black & White