cover of book

Letter from an Unknown Woman: Max Ophuls, Director
edited by Virginia Wexman
Rutgers University Press, 1986
Paper: 978-0-8135-1160-3 | Cloth: 978-0-8135-1159-7 | eISBN: 978-0-8135-5725-0
Library of Congress Classification PN1997.L4563L49 1986
Dewey Decimal Classification 791.4372

The fifth title in the Rutgers Films in Print Series, "Letter from an Unknown Woman" is directed by Max Ophuls and based on the novella by Stefan Zweig. It is the story of Lisa, a young girl who rejects the constricting life of her small town and family in order to dedicate her life to a musician, Stefan. The film's elegant fin-de-siecle Viennese setting, lyrical camera work, dispassionate and ironic point of view, and fine performances by Joan Fontaine and Louis Jourdan elevate what could have been a mere tearjerker into one of Ophuls's finest works.

This volume provides a detailed transcription of the 1948 film. Notes appended to the film's continuity script detail all the significant differences between the finished film and the shooting script.

Wexman's introductions to each of the book's sections discuss the history of the film's reception and provide an overview of the central issues the film has raised. A cross section of commentary by well-known critics attests to the film's enduring position as a central text for cinema study. These essays acknowledge the film's significance as a preeminent example of Ophuls's art, as an important woman's film, and as a representative of the classic Hollywood style. A biographical sketch of Ophuls, the entire Zweig novella, a bibliography and other background materials are also included.

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