Monday, April 8, 2013

Movie of the Week – Letter from an Unknown Woman

This week’s movie: Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948).

The romance drama is about a young girl who falls in love with a playboy pianist who does not even know she exists. Giving up other opportunities at love, she desperately wants to be with him. But, this is not a happy love story.

Letter from an Unknown Woman is maybe German (though, he spent most of his career in France – fleeing the Nazis) director Max Ophuls’s greatest film. He also made some of the best films in French cinema: The Earrings of Madame de…, Le Plaisire, and La Ronde.

Working with Ophuls on the film are composer Daniele Amfitheatrof (whose score is fantastic), cinematographer Franz Planer (one of the era’s best Hollywood D.P.s), and art director Alexander Golitzen.

The film stars Joan Fotaine and co-stars Louis Jourdan. It is one of Fontaine’s best films (along with her Hitchcock collaborations), and is her personal favorite among her own work.

Letter from an Unknown Woman is a forgotten gem. And while most have not seen or even heard of this film, it made Sight & Sound’s 2012 Top 250 Greatest Films list (complied by polling critics and directors). Hollywood just does not make films like this anymore – films that are utterly emotionally devastating. Fontaine is brilliant at playing naïve and innocent characters that are also strong-willed and stubborn. Though tragic, it is also a beautiful film and well worth checking out.

Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray

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