on 31 May 2005
All film buffs should see Otto Preminger's "Laura" at least once. This complex, moody drama features the absolutely gorgeous Gene Tierney in the title role. The epitome of noir, many of the movie's scenes actually do take place on the proverbial dark and rainy night. "Laura" is much more than a murder mystery, however. It is also a psychological study of a controlled, analytical man who becomes obsessed with a dead woman. The superb acting, especially Clifton Webb's brilliant performance, fascinating characters, witty dialogue, Joseph LaShelle's Oscar-winning high contrast black and white cinematography, creative direction and taut storyline, make this an all time classic.
Wealthy, beautiful New York socialite Laura Hunt is brutally murdered, killed in her own apartment by a shotgun blast aimed directly at her head. Hard boiled, street savvy Police Lieutenant Mark McPherson, (Dana Andrews), investigates the crime. (cool trench coat, too!). The more he learns about the deceased woman, and the longer he stares at her portrait, the more obsessed with her he becomes. Laura's story is told through flashbacks.
The lovely lady had two main men in her life, whose effete, mean-spirited characters have always made me wonder about her lack of good taste. Waldo Lydecker (played masterfully by Clifton Webb), is a shallow, conceited, hypocritical intellectual snob, whose acid wit is a film highlight. He had a dinner date with Laura on the night she died, but she canceled. Lydecker, the young woman's mentor, had helped further her career tremendously and acted as her advisor on many occasions. He believes he was indispensable to Laura, who, unfortunately for him, fell in love with Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price). Carpenter is a real philanderer, who is adverse to work of any kind, and readily admits it. The young woman's aunt, Ann Treadwell, (Judith Anderson), is yet another nasty neurotic, in love with Carpenter, and riddled with jealousy of her niece. The three are all suspects, but as McPherson says, in the line parodied by Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau, "I suspect everybody and nobody." When the no nonsense detective first spoke these words, however, there was no cause for laughter.
I don't want to go into too much detail and spoil this great film for those who have yet to see it. Let it suffice to say that there are many surprising plot twists and turns, passion, blackmail, lots of suspense and superior performances here. And of course, the haunting song "Laura," a memorable piece by David Raksin is the theme.
DVD extras include excellent biographies of Tierney and Price, two audio commentaries featuring film scholars, and a deleted scene. My highest recommendations!
It's hard to create an absent character, then feature them front-and-center without destroying all that mystery and power. Just look at "Rebecca."
But one exception to this rule is "Laura," a spellbinding film noir about a rough, clever detective and a society girl suspected of being first the victim, then the murderer. Dark atmosphere, red herrings, and a hefty dose of psychology are all part of the mix in one of Hollywood's strangest love triangles.
A young socialite, Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney) has been shot in the face with buckshot. Det. Lt. Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) is sent on the case, investigating Laura's aunt, her gigolo fiancee Shelby (Vincent Price), and her best friend, an acid-tongued gay columnist Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb). No one seems to have a motive for killing Laura -- everyone loved her.
And soon McPherson starts to fall in love with Laura too, with a painting as his guide. Then Laura walks into her apartment, alive and well. Now MacPherson must find out who the dead girl was, and struggles with his jealousy when Laura reunites with her cheating fiancee. But who was the real target -- and what twisted motives do they have?
Few murder mysteries of any kind are as tight and perfectly plotted as "Laura" is, and few noirs have as deep an insight into the human mind -- and just how strange and/or twisted love can become. Not many movies can have a guy who falls in love with a girl through a painting, without making it corny.
The movie is taut, intense and slightly overwhelming, with a twist in the middle that throws out all the previous suspicions. It unwinds slowly throughout the film, with the occasional burst of action (MacPherson punching Shelby), right up to an action-packed finale, full with symbolism... and some seriously twisted motives.
But atmosphere alone isn't enough, and there's also some incredibly haunting cinematography and brilliant dialogue ("I don't use a pen. I write with a goose quill dipped in venom"). When MacPherson interviews Laura's maid, she announces, "I ain't afraid of cops. I was brought up to spit whenever I saw one." His reply? "Okay, go ahead and spit if that'll make you feel better."
Laura's a powerful presence in the first half, and a less talented actress would have wrecked the atmosphere, but Tierney handles it well. Andrews has a crackling Bogart-esque presence here, which makes us like the only honest guy in the movie, and Webb is brilliant as the tart-tongued, frustrated Waldo, who sees Laura as his personal Galatea. And Price has a small but juicy role as a smooth gigolo.
"Laura" is one of the greatest films noir, full of wonderful acting, dark atmosphere and twisted passion. It's nothing short of brilliant.
What is there not to love about this film? From the stark, stylized chiaroscuro cinematography, which won it an Academy Award in 1944, to its stellar performances, deft direction, and intelligent screenplay, it is simply a marvelous film. It was adapted from the novel of the same name by Vera Caspary. To add icing to the cake, there is a haunting musical score that will stay with the viewer long after the final credits have scrolled away.
This classic, old-fashioned murder mystery features a stunning Gene Tierney in the title role and old time favorite Dana Andrews as Detective Lt. Mark McPherson, the hardboiled, virile gumshoe who finds himself smitten the minute he sees the portrait of Laura Hunt at the scene of the crime. He is determined to bring the murderer of this lovely young woman to justice. As have all the men in Laura's life, McPherson, too, becomes obsessed with her.
When a major, mind-boggling twist in the plot casts a new light on the evidence, McPherson goes full speed ahead, as new developments point the finger of suspicion from the least likely to the most likely suspect. Could it be Laura's jealous aunt, Ann Treadwell (Dame Judith Anderson), who seems to be hot to trot with Laura's fiance, Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price), despite the differences in their respective ages? Could it be Laura's playboy fiance? After all, he has a shady past and a penchant for money and other women, especially those who could keep him in the style to which he would like to become accustomed. Could it even be Laura's long time friend, mentor, and spurned would be suitor, the acerbic writer and self-styled cynic, Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb)?
Gene Tierney gives a luminous performance as Laura Hunt, the beautiful, intelligent, independent businesswoman who is somewhat of a cipher. She is someone to whom men are drawn, often obsessively so. Dana Andrews is perfect in the role of Detective McPherson. His no nonsense, street smart, hunky detective is a great counterpoint and foil to the more effete and prissy Waldo Lydecker. Clifton Webb is positively brilliant in the role of Waldo Lydecker and steals the show from under the noses of his co-stars. This is no mean feat given the enormous talent of the film's stellar cast. Webb's droll, spot on delivery of the wonderful lines that he was given are memorable.
Vincent Price is excellent in the role of Shelby Carpenter, Laura's Callow fiance and erstwhile gigolo. At first, however, he took a little getting used to, as I was used to seeing Vincent Price in roles associated with gothic horror. Still, he acquits himself admirably. Dame Judith Anderson is memorable in the small role of Laura's desperate aunt, Ann Treadwell, who knows what she wants and will pay whatever price is necessary to get it. Of course, Otto Preminger deserves kudos for his deft direction, as does Samuel Hoffenstein for writing a screenplay infused with such great dialogue. Kudos also go to David Raskin, as his memorable score will forever be loved and remembered by those who enjoy this film. It is certainly one that is worthy of a place in one's personal film collection.
FABULOUS! This 1944 classic is very deservedly considered a master piece of cinema. It didn't age one bit and it still shines gloriously today. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.
New York City police detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) investigates the murder of beautiful and highly successful advertising executive, Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney), killed by a shotgun blast to the face, just inside the doorway of her apartment, before the start of the film. She died just before marrying a handsome young man of bad reputation, Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price). McPherson first interviews charismatic newspaper columnist Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb), an aging dandy, who was Laura's mentor - and with this the film really begins.
There are so many treasures in this film that it is hard to decide where to begin. Gene Tierney is of course the main attraction of this film. She was 24 at this time and also a young mother (she gave birth to her first child one year before) and the conjunction of age and this first maternity made her into a luminous appearance. Clifton Webb is simply PERFECT in a role which shows - amongst others - that there is no fool like an old fool. Vincent Price is also great as the hunky but shady ladies man. Finally, Dana Andrews portrays very well a man who slowly but surely falls in love with a very, very dead woman...
Passion, jealousy, love, hatred, longing for the impossible, shockers and surprises, wit and humour, cynicism and madness - all is here, in the dominating shadow of Laura, a young, amazingly beautiful woman who took the world by storm and had it all. For a moment...
I saw this film three times, at various stages of my life and every time I liked it more. This is indeed a great, great classic, a MUST for all amateurs of good cinema. I will absolutely keep my DVD for another viewing. ENJOY!
on 30 August 2015
A classic. A simple tale about love, revenge and a beautiful woman - a really beautiful woman, as well as intelligent. poised and chic. Of course its totally dated: old fashion cars, old fashion clothes, homes with only radios and telephones - beyond belief. And If that isn't enough to put you off, no CGI, no on screen sex or violence. How they expect anyone to pay for this boring drivel is beyond belief.
But apparently, there are still a few misguided dolts like us still left to buy the DVD, the Blu-ray and hopefully in time the 4K Ultra Blu-ray.
on 19 June 2005
this is one of those films which i will always pick out for a cold windy night to watch and though i know the ending i will still be scared the whole way through it. This film is a masterpiece, gene tierney is beautiful in her role as laura hunt and the storyline and settings are sumptuous in every possible way. It is worth a look just to see tierney who really shines through in this film with the expression ' stars are not made like that anymore.'
Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb), self-centered writer is having his lunch interrupted by a young lady Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney) who is soliciting his endorsement of a pen. He takes her under his wing and grooms her for corporate greatness. Later it looks like someone has bumped off Laura. Detective Lt. Mark McPherson is assigned to the case. Somewhere in the process of investigation he seems to have fallen in love with the dead Laura and wants to buy her portrait.
Can we figure out who did it before Mark?
This movie is all that they say it in and then some. Naturally it is not the book "Laura" by Vera Caspary. And due to media constraints some things are implied. The characters do not match the book description.
They could not get a good portrait of Gene Tierney for the picture of Laura so they used a photograph and made it look like a portrait. I wonder where that photograph is today.
First time viewing gives you the impression that Waldo Lydecker, is the manipuative person. Yes I know most of the characters are manipulative in nature. But second time viewing, low and behold; who manipulates Waldo from the very beginning and uses his connections to clime the corporate latter? Then pretty much snubs him.
It was interesting to see Vincent price play a character (Shelby Carpenter) that is not in a spook movie.
Look how confident Dana Andrews as Detective Lieutenant Mark McPherson, is in this movie. Also notice his high heal shoes. See him as a completely different character in "In Harm's Way" (1965), as Admiral 'Blackjack' Broderick. Also directed by Otto Preminger.
Laura is one of my favourite films.
It's what you might call a forties romantic film noir, a dreamy concoction directed by the great Otto Preminger, with an exquisite performance at its centre by Clifton Webb as Waldo Lydecker, waspishly camp gossip columnist and mentor/father-figure to Laura, a woman of beauty, resourcefulness, grace and - as it turns out - mystery. She's played to perfection by Gene Tierney, an actress so beautiful that words fail me (as they did many others).
Dana Andrews, often a rather stolid actor, has one of his best roles as the detective investigating the possible murder of Laura, while Vincent Price (with his soft southern accent still in place in those days) is very good as her feckless, smarmily charming suitor. Judith Anderson - five years after Rebecca - is excellent as the 'other' woman, who loves not wisely but too well.
The script is a brilliant one, giving Webb the best lines, which he relishes. (Webb never had a part this good before or since.) The plot thickens as this wonderful film progresses, and Preminger never puts a foot wrong. As the bewitching Laura, Tierney is exactly right, a heady blend of girl-next-door (if only!) and ravishing beauty. We see her first in flashback, then she quietly, almost diffidently, enters the room in which the cop is asleep...
I've watched this near-perfect film many times, and will watch it many times more. Some films - even great ones - you don't want to see too often, but this is one that only grows in richness and enchantment with each re-acquaintance.
By the way, the lush, memorable theme of Laura only later became the song 'Laura' - Sinatra giving maybe the best version of all.
Laura...is the face in the misty light
Footsteps that you hear down the hall
The laugh that floats on a summer night
That you can never quite recall...
And you see Laura...but she's only a dream
And you see Laura - a dream of a film.
on 22 August 2005
Laura is one of the quintessential examples of classic Hollywood film noir. All the attributes are there - a mysterious murder, brooding romanticism, the obsession of a beautiful woman, and a love that reaches far beyond the dark shadow of death. Elegantly directed by Otto Preminger, Laura is all about the lengths one will go, to prove one's love. The story is about passion and infatuation and about two very different men who end up being obsessed with the same woman.
The movie begins as the wealthy Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) sits in his bathtub writing Laura's biography in his swank Manhattan penthouse. It soon becomes obvious that he has been sexually obsessed with a woman who was just found murdered. Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews), a working class detective assigned to the case, is questioning Waldo about his relationship with Laura.
Mark is ruggedly handsome, muscular, and down-to-earth, the complete opposite to the snotty, effete Waldo. From the outset, the two take an instant dislike to one another. Although Waldo did not have a sexual relationship with Laura, they were great friends, he admired her beauty and gave her first big break in the advertising world where she moved into a position of prominence through her own ability.
Mark becomes captivated with the dead woman when he searches her apartment and sees a beautiful portrait of her, but he is frustrated that he doesn't have any leads to the case. Waldo tells Mark that he has been constantly obsessed with her and jealous of her other boyfriends in the 5-years that he knew her. He was particularly resentful of Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price), whom he despises as being someone who is a weakling, a scoundrel and a scam artist.
Laura's older aunt, Anne Treadwell (Judith Anderson), is in love with Shelby and doesn't care if his character is rotten, even supporting the bankrupt society person from Kentucky with funds. Mark is convinced that Anne, Shelby, and Waldo, are hiding something and they all become his suspects in the murder. As the young detective keeps digging into Laura's life, a sudden revelation casts light on whether it was really Laura that was murdered after all.
Love letters, an antique clock, and an alibi that just doesn't add up, all factor into the serpentine plot. As Mark becomes more obsessed with Laura's portrait, he seems to be more intent on finding her killer, with Waldo and Shelby becoming the two most likely suspects. The film's theme of obsession ends on a psychopathic note, showing which one is not willing to give up his ideal woman to the other.
The acting is magnificent, with the beautiful Gene Tierney perfectly suited to the icy and cool Laura. Dana Andrews is a revelation as Mark, and his truculent, sexy he-man attitude is nicely juxtaposed to the caustic almost effeminate performance of Webb. But it seems odd to me that Shelby and Waldo; the films two prissiest men are even attracted to Laura in the first place.
Adding to Preminger's accomplished direction is the arresting cinematography by Joseph La Shelle, which creates a moody, tension fuelled atmosphere. Laura is a provocatively twisted tale; a very satisfying seductive thriller that explores the nature of unrequited love and the notion that misplaced romantic infatuation will always end in disaster. Mike Leonard August 05.
on 2 March 2003
This is the film that made me love the movies and become a film buff. When Otto Preminger was told to take over this project from another director who had barely begun filming it was a mess. David Raksin's famous score, so beautiful and haunting that it set the tone for the entire film, had not even been written yet. Preminger told Raksin to take the weekend and come up with something or he would use Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady" instead. The theme Raksin came up with was so cinematically perfect that Preminger used it as a framework for the entire movie and both this film and Raksin's score have become legendary.
Dana Andrews had his greatest role as Detective Mark McPherson, assigned the murder of society girl Laura Hunt due to office politics. Wlado Lydecker is also the role Clifton Webb will be remembered for. He is perfect as the deceased Laura's vain and famous benefactor. He uses his wit and intellect to destroy all of Laura's suitors in his weekly column as we see in flashbacks told to McPherson by Lydecker himself.
Vincent Price had his best non horror role as Shelby Carpenter, the one man Waldo could not drive away. Laura was to have been married to Carpenter, a heel with perfect manners. The more McPherson learns about Laura the more he wonders why such a sweet and down to earth girl ended up a society page murder mystery. She liked baseball and shares a favorite book with McPherson. Her portrait, painted by one of the suitors Lydecker destroyed in his column, hangs ominously above the chair where Mark McPherson reads her diary searching for the clue that will help him unravel the mystery of both her life, and her violent death.
Thelma Ritter turns in a fine performance as Laura's fiercely loyal maid, protecting Laura's reputation at every turn. McPherson wants to protect her reputation also as he has fallen for a ghost. David Raksin's haunting score and the opulant cinematography, in conjunction with the wonderful performances of all involved turn this into the classic film that is every film buff's favorite murder mystery romance. Halfway through this film everything is turned upside down on a rainy night in Laura's apartment.
This film was adapted from the terrific Vera Caspary novel of 1943 and is a literary classic as well. Both the novel and the film are timeless treasures to be cherished. This is one of the finest films ever made and is not to be missed. You will never feel the same about the movies after buying and watching this film. It will make you fall in love with the movies........