Archive for January 3rd, 2009


by Allan Fish

(USA 1948 88m) DVD2 (also France)

Only a perfect film

p  John Houseman  d  Max Ophuls  w  Howard Koch  novel  Stefan Zweig  ph  Franz Planer  ed  Ted J.Kent  m  Daniele Amfitheatrof  art  Alexander Golitzen  cos  Travis Banton

Joan Fontaine (Lisa Berndle), Louis Jourdan (Stefan Brand), Mady Christians (Frau Berndle), Art Smith (John), Marcel Journet (Johann Stauffer), Carol Yorke (Marie), John Good (Lt.Leopold von Kaltnegger), Howard Freeman (Herr Kastner), Erskine Sanford,

Was how David Thomson described Max Ophuls’ supreme woman’s picture of the forties; also easily his best American film.  Letter is quintessential Ophuls in so many ways – the setting in late imperial Vienna, the doomed romance, the integral use of music, the barely still camera – but it is also pure Hollywood moonshine, impeccably presented.

            Stefan Brand is a middle-aged lothario who returns from another night’s philandering with a dilemma; a wronged husband has challenged him to a duel and he has but a few hours to escape.  Returning to his garret he notices a letter waiting for him which he begins to read.  “By the time you read this letter, I may be dead” it begins and, as one might expect from such an explosive beginning, he stays to read some more.  He is told of how a woman has loved him since she first saw him, from a fourteen year old crush to a brief actual love affair (from which she became pregnant) to her desertion. (more…)

Read Full Post »