When You Read This Letter

Last updated
When You Read This Letter
When You Read This Letter.jpg
Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville
Written by Jacques Deval
Produced by
Cinematography Henri Alekan
Edited by Marinette Cadix
Music by Bernard Peiffer
Release date
26 July 1953
Running time
104 minutes
  • France
  • Italy

When You Read This Letter (French: Quand tu liras cette lettre) is a 1953 French-Italian drama film directed by Jean-Pierre Melville and starring Philippe Lemaire, Juliette Gréco and Yvonne Sanson.


It was shot at the Billancourt Studios in Paris. Location filming also take place on the coast of Southern France where the film is set. The film's sets were designed by the art director Robert Gys.

The film was a commercial success and permitted Melville to acquire his own studios to make his future productions. [1]


After their parents die in a road accident, a strongly moral young woman named Thérèse Voise leaves a convent shortly before taking her vows in order to care for her younger sister Denise and run the family stationery shop with her. Thérèse is very protective of Denise and becomes concerned when her sister strikes up an acquaintance with Max, a young amateur boxer and garage mechanic. Max is a self-centered, amoral drifter who is conducting numerous different relationships with girls at nightclubs. He is also pursuing Irène Faugeret, a wealthy married woman, managing to get employment as her chauffeur and become her lover. Max strikes up a friendship of sorts with Biquet, a bellhop at the Hôtel Carlton who acts as Max's eyes and ears, especially as concerns Madame Faugeret.

Denise is attracted to Max, but after a chance meeting at the hotel he sexually assaults her. A distraught Denise attempts to drown herself, and is only narrowly saved from suicide. After she has recovered, Thérèse blackmails Max into getting engaged to Denise by threatening to reveal the circumstances to the police who are already investigating Max for the death in an automobile accident of Irène, his wealthy lover. Max was responsible for Irène Faugeret's death as he had loosened three screws on her car's steering column. Max did not expect her to use the car the night of the fatal accident. He expected Biquet would use it instead, part of their scheme to steal Irène's money and then flee to Tangiers to start a new life. Max was hoping to double-cross Biquet. Instead, he caused Irène Faugeret's death.

Denise is delighted and optimistic about the future. However, Thérèse remains contemptuous of her future brother-in-law.

Max tries to persuade Thérèse that he has fallen in love with her and attempts to seduce her. She rejects his advances, but it remains unclear to what extent she is attracted to him. Max tries to persuade her to run away with him to Tangiers where they can start a new life together. The sincerity of his actions remains in doubt even up to the moment when, having absconded with Denise's dowry and Thérèse's passport, he is killed by a train while trying to board it in order to complete his rendezvous with Thérèse. Philosophically accepting this turn of events, she returns to her convent to become a nun.


Related Research Articles

Juliette Gréco French singer and actress

Juliette Gréco was a French singer and actress. Her best known songs are "Paris Canaille", "La Javanaise" and "Déshabillez-moi" (1967). She often sang tracks with lyrics written by French poets such as Jacques Prévert and Boris Vian, as well as singers like Jacques Brel and Charles Aznavour. Her 60-year career came to an end in 2015 when she began her last worldwide tour titled "Merci".

Max Pécas was a French filmmaker, writer and producer.

Marie Glory French actress

Marie Glory was a French actress.

Nicole Stéphane was a French actress, producer and director.

This is an incomplete list detailing the codenames and aliases used by F Section agents of the Special Operations Executive.

Nicole Maurey French actress

Nicole Maurey was a French actress, who appeared in 65 film and television productions between 1945 and 1997.

<i>Without Leaving an Address</i> 1951 film

Without Leaving an Address is a 1951 French comedy film directed by Jean-Paul Le Chanois. At the 1st Berlin International Film Festival it won the Golden Bear (Comedies) award. The film's sets were designed by the art directors Max Douy and Serge Piménoff.

Jacques Datin French composer

Jacques Datin was a French composer.

<i>Three Waltzes</i> 1938 film

Three Waltzes is a 1938 French historical musical film directed by Ludwig Berger and starring Yvonne Printemps, Pierre Fresnay and Henri Guisol. It is an operetta film, based on music by Oscar Straus. The film's sets were designed by the art directors Jean d'Eaubonne, Raymond Gabutti and Jacques Gut.

<i>An Artist with Ladies</i> 1952 French film

An Artist with Ladies is a 1952 French comedy film directed by Jean Boyer and starring Fernandel, Renée Devillers and Arlette Poirier. A former sheep shearer becomes the most celebrated hairdresser in France.

<i>Cage of Girls</i> 1949 film

Cage of Girls is a 1949 French drama film directed by Maurice Cloche and starring Danièle Delorme, Jacky Flynt and Louise Lagrange. It is set in a women's prison.

<i>Montmartre</i> (1941 film) 1941 French film

Montmartre is a 1941 French romantic comedy film directed by Georges Lacombe and starring Édith Piaf, Jean-Louis Barrault and Roger Duchesne.

<i>Sergil Amongst the Girls</i> 1952 film

Sergil Amongst the Girls is a 1952 French crime film directed by Jacques Daroy and starring Paul Meurisse, Claudine Dupuis and Colette Deréal.

<i>Claudine at School</i> (film) 1937 film

Claudine at School is a 1937 French comedy film directed by Serge de Poligny and starring Max Dearly, Pierre Brasseur and Suzet Maïs. It is an adaptation of the 1900 novel of the same title by Colette.

<i>Womens Prison</i> (1938 film) 1938 film

Women's Prison or Women's Prisons is a 1938 French drama film directed by Roger Richebé and starring Viviane Romance, Renée Saint-Cyr and Marguerite Deval. Based on the 1930 novel of the same title by Francis Carco, it was remade twice as the 1947 Swedish film Two Women and the 1958 French film Women's Prison.

<i>Thérèse Martin</i> (film) 1939 film

Thérèse Martin is a 1939 French biographical drama film directed by Maurice de Canonge and starring Irène Corday, Madeleine Soria and Marthe Mellot. It portrays the life of the Roman Catholic saint Thérèse of Lisieux.

<i>Lights of Paris</i> 1938 film

Lights of Paris is a 1938 French musical comedy film directed by Richard Pottier and starring Tino Rossi, Michèle Alfa and Raymond Cordy.

<i>Branquignol</i> 1949 film

Branquignol is a 1949 French comedy film directed by Robert Dhéry and starring Colette Brosset, Julien Carette and Annette Poivre. It takes its name from a comedy troupe of the same name. It was shot at the Epinay Studios in Paris. The film's sets were designed by the art director Roger Briaucourt.

<i>The Nude Dancer</i> 1952 film

The Nude Dancer is a 1952 French comedy film directed by Pierre-Louis and starring Catherine Erard, Pierre Larquey and Jean Debucourt. The film's sets were designed by the art director Claude Bouxin. It is based on the interwar career of music hall star Colette Andris.


  1. Crisp p.282