A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
Detective Mark McPherson investigates the killing of Laura, found dead on her apartment floor before the movie starts. McPherson builds a mental picture of the dead girl from the suspects whom he interviews. He is helped by the striking painting of the late lamented Laura hanging on her apartment wall. But who would have wanted to kill a girl with whom every man she met seemed to fall in love? To make matters worse, McPherson finds himself falling under her spell too. Then one night, halfway through his investigations, something seriously bizarre happens to make him re-think the whole case. Written by
Steve Hosgood <email@example.com>
Clifton Webb had to deal with the shock of seeing himself on screen after a long absence from Hollywood. Watching the first batch of rushes that included his first scene in the tub when he meets McPherson, Webb nearly had a heart attack: "When I saw myself sitting in the bathtub looking very much like Mohandas K. Gandhi. I felt I might vomit. After it was over [Dana Andrews] saved my life with a big swig of bourbon. The first shock of seeing myself had a strange effect on me, psychologically, as it made me realize for the first time that I was no longer a dashing young juvenile, which I must have fancied myself being through the years in the theatre." See more »
When McPherson is seated talking to Carpenter at the country house, his position in relation to Carpenter changes between shots. See more »
[narrating off screen]
I shall never forget the weekend Laura died. A silver sun burned through the sky like a huge magnifying glass. It was the hottest Sunday in my recollection. I felt as if I were the only human being left in New York. For with Laura's horrible death, I was alone. I, Waldo Lydecker, was the only one who really knew her, and I had just begun to write Laura's story when another of those detectives came to see me. I had him wait. I could watch him through the ...
[...] See more »
It's a classic tale of love, murder and obsession, when a homicide detective becomes enamored of the victim of a brutal murder he's investigating, in `Laura,' directed by Otto Preminger and starring Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews. The story begins with the discovery of the murder of Laura Hunt (Tierney), a young advertising executive in New York City, and as detective Mark McPherson (Andrews) makes his investigation and begins to fit together the pieces of the puzzle of Laura's life and death, the essence of who she was begins to emerge. And it gives the story an interesting twist; for after seeing a portrait of Laura, and getting to know her by reading her most intimate personal letters and diary (routine for a murder investigation), McPherson becomes obsessed with her, and soon discovers he's not alone; there was another man obsessed with her as well. Subsequently, he must determine if that obsession played any part in Laura's death. The suspects include the men in her life, Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb), a radio personality/columnist who helped her begin her career, and Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price), her fiance, a man of seemingly dubious character who had recently been involved with a model who worked for Laura's agency. The list doesn't end with them, however; also in the running is a man named Jacoby (John Dexter), the artist who painted the portrait of Laura that so mesmerized McPherson, and then there's some question as to the relationship between a certain Ann Treadwell (Judith Anderson) and Carpenter that is yet to be resolved.
Preminger delivers a solid mystery that will keep you in suspense until the very end, but with only enough tension to keep it interesting rather than engrossing. And though the story is believable, there are elements of the plot that develop so quickly it stretches credibility a bit. An additional two or three scenes relating to certain aspects of the characters lives (especially Laura's) would have had a significant impact of this film-- good as it is-- and with a running time of 85 minutes (on most prints) it wouldn't have been out of the question to expand it somewhat.
As far as the characters, McPherson, Lydecker and Carpenter emerge fully sketched and need little development; you know exactly who they are and where they've been. This is not the case with Laura, however; Tierney's character suffers somewhat from lack of development, and as the story unfolds, she seems to get from here to there with little discernible change. What the character needed was a bit more depth and some real definition.
Which is exactly what Andrews and Webb give to their characters; Webb as the flamboyant and self-assured Lydecker, Andrews as the stoic and deliberating McPherson. Price gives a notable performance, as well, but has a tendency to lapse into melodrama occasionally, which can be distracting at times. And Tierney gives a passable performance, though her acting is not on a par with her exquisite beauty. In her initial encounter with Lydecker, for instance, her pronounced coyness is somewhat diverting. Still, her presence on the screen is radiant, which makes it easy to overlook the slight flaws in her acting.
The supporting cast includes Dorothy Adams (Bessie), Cy Kendall (Inspector), Grant Mitchell (Lancaster Corey), Buster Miles (Office Boy) and Frank La Rue (Hairdresser). A good mystery, but with few surprises, `Laura' nevertheless remains a classic in it's own right. It's not a perfect film (the final words spoken, in fact, are decidedly melodramatic), but it's good storytelling, and is ultimately satisfying. Saying that there was room for improvement would be nit-picking; suffice to say that it is what it is, which is a pretty good movie. I rate this one 7/10.
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