When Sex was A Horror: Letter from an Unknown Woman

Published September 12, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

The Hays Code assured that no fictional sinners went unpunished in imaginary celluloid universes for decades.  This prehistoric advisory measure was especially devoted to making sure that anyone who dared to have sex onscreen paid an unforgettably epic price. 

Thus, Joan Fontaine and Louis Jourdan suffer grandly in 1948’s opulent Letter from an Unknown Woman. After being abandoned by Jourdan’s Stefan Brand, a famous piano playing cad, after one night of bosom heaving passion, Fontaine’s adoring Lisa Berndle faces down single motherhood, a loveless marriage and typhus. Brand, meanwhile, finds his career drifting away due to his excessive debauchery and finishes out this scenario facing the wraith of an angered nobleman’s dueling pistol.

Almost gothic in its sumptuousness, this tale is further highlighted by Fontaine’s  theatrics, especially as she enacts Lisa’s childhood curiosity in the film’s first act, and by Jourdan’s almost aching early career handsomeness.

The Genre Boudoir:

Jourdain added continental flair to 1977’s Count Dracula, 1982’s Swamp Thing and its 1989 follow-up, The Return of the Swamp Thing. Fontaine, famously did award winning work with Hitchcock in such dark melodramas as Rebecca and Suspicion. She later brought an appropriately grandiose hysteria to Hammer Film’s 1966 small town cult epic The Witches.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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