“Grace, do you have a French crush?” I asked earlier.
“Nope. They’re kind of short.” (Grace stands 5’8″)
“I have two French crushes: Alain Delon and Louis Jourdan.”
Released in 1948, the movie was based on the book of the same title by author Stefan Zweig.
It unfolds in 1900s Vienna, Austria with Louis Jourdan as an ageing concert pianist who was once a rising star in his field. He comes home to find a letter from a woman who narrates the following story:
Lisa Berndle (played by Joan Fontaine) is a mousy teenager whose life is changed forever when a young concert pianist named Stefan Brand moves into the neighborhood.
He is taken care of by a mute butler named John. Lisa becomes obsessed with the new stranger who plays beautiful music at night and falls in love with him.
Unfortunately he never notices her. He always seems to have a new woman coming back to his apartment.
One day, Lisa’s mother announces she is getting married again and they are moving to another town.
Lisa protests and tries to escape, but changes her mind when he sees Stefan bringing home a bride.
Years pass and the mousy Lisa blossoms into a young woman. But she rejects a marriage proposal because she is still in love with the concert pianist. She decides to move back to Vienna and gets a job as a showroom model.
She returns to the old neighborhood to stalk Stefan Brand, and one fateful night, he finally notices her.
He ditches his date at a restaurant and takes Lisa on a long, romantic date which ends up with them in his apartment.
The following day he finds her at the showroom and tells her he has to go on tour for two weeks, and can she see him off at the train station. While saying goodbye, Stefan promises to come back to her, while his wife can be heard calling him to come on board. He didn’t come back.
Nine months later, Lisa has given birth to a son and refuses to name the father.
She later remarries a wealthy old man who is aware of her past with Stefan.
Lisa has turned into a rich, society wife.
Years later, she bumps into an older Stefan at a concert. He is no longer a star in the music scene.
The two speak briefly, but their conversation is cut short when Lisa realizes her husband is waiting for her outside. She reveals her true feelings to her husband and leaves to stalk Stefan.
She goes to his apartment and the feelings are again mutual.
Unfortunately she starts to realize he doesn’t even remember her name and begins to think, was she just a roll in the hay? She disappears into the night and ends up writing the letter.
It was four in the morning when I finished watching it and I am still haunted by the ending.
If you love romantic old movies and the turn of the century, don’t miss this movie.
In 1992, Letter from an Unknown Woman was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. (Wikipedia)
I’m so not over it. God bless Louis Jourdan.