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Laura More at IMDbPro »

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102 out of 135 people found the following review useful:

There's something about "Laura"

Author: Coventry from the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls
7 January 2004

Alright, I confess...I hadn't got any experience with Otto Preminger-movies before I saw Laura. But, if they're all as promising as this one...I'll soon become his biggest fan for sure! A fan of Vincent Price, I was already. That was my motivation to watch Laura in the first place. I wanted to see this favorite actor of mine in a good old-fashioned and intelligent tale of mystery and murder. I got what I expected PLUS a hell of a lot more!! Laura can be summarized by using one single word: BRILLIANT! Like no other film, Laura is the perfect proof that cinema can be the purest form of art. The dialogues are superb. Every line that's being said in Laura is a highlight, every facial expression made is a stunning one. Preminger's film is Film-Noir perfection. Period. First and foremost, the story of Laura impresses you bigtime. The script is extremely intelligent and it's always one step ahead of you. There were most movies desperately TRY to fool the audience ( and fail ), Laura pulls it off without any effort. The atmosphere and design just sucks you in completely and you're overwhelmed by every surprising twist. I'm not telling anything about the plot or storyline here. It would be a shame to spoil something about this masterpiece. See it for yourself and be astonished! I am willing to write one last word about the cast, though. Laura has the most entire charismatic cast I've ever seen! Gene Tierney was an obvious choice to play the title role, I may say. She's one of the most beautiful girls who ever appeared on the big screen. It's only normal that she's in the spotlights here. Heck, I even fell in love with her myself while watching her. Clifton Webb is terrific as the men-hating critic named Waldo. His constant sarcastic remarks are a joy for all senses. And - as I said before - Vincent Price is the one who's making this film complete. Laura was shot pretty early in his well-filled career but his talent is obviously there already. Even though he grew out to become a legendary horror-icon, he certainly proves here that he could handle all kind of characters.

Go and see Laura! See it now!! It's one of the greatest films ever made and the undeniable proof that classic cinema will always be the best. No matter who're they're trying to impress us with sound and visual aspects nowadays, nothing compares to the charm and intelligence of a good story!

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85 out of 106 people found the following review useful:

A perfect Noir film

Author: FilmOtaku ( from Milwaukee, WI
14 July 2004

The first time I saw this film, about eight years ago I ended up almost losing a friend because I was hoarding the VHS copy he had lent me for about two months. After seeing it, I quite simply didn't want to give up the tape because in doing so, I wouldn't be able to watch it anytime I wanted to; and I did watch it anytime I wanted to, and often, until he threatened to call a Noir Intervention. I may have loved this film from the first viewing, but I wasn't prepared to deal with something like that, as entertaining as it may have been.

I fell in love with `Laura' because it is biting and evil, intelligent and surprising. The unfathomably gorgeous Gene Tierney plays the title character, an advertising executive whose best friend Waldo Lydecker (played by the always wonderful Clifton Webb) and fiancée Shelby, (a really young Vincent Price) are some of the prime suspects in her murder. The gruff detective leading the case (Dana Andrews) is Det. McPherson, and he quickly essentially falls in love with a ghost while he is trying to solve her murder.

`Laura' has one of the great Noir scripts in that just as the audience thinks they have the case solved, another curve ball is thrown at them which blows that theory out of the water. The acting is pure delightful melodrama, but Clifton Webb's performance is simply show-stopping. His character is a vicious snit of a writer who uses his column as a weapon against anyone he doesn't like or even tolerate. Even upon multiple viewings I can't help but howl at some of his lines and mannerisms.

If anyone was to request suggestions for good Film Noir movies, I would prescribe a heavy dose of `Laura' because it has something for everyone in that it is romantic, thrilling, mysterious, wickedly funny and above all, thoroughly entertaining.


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58 out of 67 people found the following review useful:

You'll fall in love with this film...

Author: Elizabeth-4
30 March 2000

One of the best suspense films of the 1940s, "Laura" is loaded with elegant sophistication, witty dialogue, unscrupulous characters, and romantic obsession, all wrapped in hauntingly beautiful music.

Lovely Gene Tierney is Laura; the young advertising executive allegedly murdered at the front door of her apartment. Dana Andrews is well cast as Mark MacPherson, the handsome, no nonsense detective assigned to unravel the case.

Clifton Webb is superb as Waldo Lydecker, Laura's mentor and an egocentric, effeminate newspaper columnist who has made a career of eliminating Laura's prospective suitors. Lydecker detests Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price), a southern playboy to whom Laura is engaged. Anne Treadwell (Judith Anderson) is Laura's aunt who, incidentally, is in love with Carpenter herself.

As MacPherson sorts through the motives and alibis, he finds Laura too bewitches him. In one of the most memorable movie scenes of all time, Dana Andrews gives an intense performance of a man driven to distraction by the story of Laura, her letters, private diary, perfume, and hauntingly lovely portrait above the fireplace. Clearly agitated, he takes a drink as he sits in a chair beneath Laura's portrait. He falls asleep, and the audience is left wondering if his dreams of Laura are coming true, as she appears through the doorway. He awakens and rises from the chair, his soul shaken by the sight of Laura alive.

This intriguing story, combined with Clifton Webb's biting quips, Gene Tierney's beauty and elegance, Dana Andrews' intensity and dark good looks, and Vincent Price's sense of humor, makes this film immensely watchable again and again.

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59 out of 72 people found the following review useful:

Has to be considered a classic example of film noir...

Author: Neil Doyle from U.S.A.
10 July 2001

LAURA is, quite simply, as good as it gets as far as "film noir" is concerned.

Aside from an interesting story, a witty script, excellent B&W photography of elegant sets and the beautiful Gene Tierney as the center of attention, it works on every level imaginable. Dana Andrews has an intriguing role as the detective drawn to the portrait of Laura after believing her dead. And Clifton Webb has his star-making role of Waldo Lydecker, the snobbish and elegant man who seems just as obsessed with the dead woman as the detective. Adding to the impressive performances are Judith Anderson and Vincent Price.

The only flaw seems to be that Laura herself is not as well-defined in motives and background as the other players. But Gene Tierney's mesmerizing beauty hardly makes that important. Nevertheless, she is too passive in the role and actually gave far stronger performances in films like The Razor's Edge and Leave Her to Heaven, something she herself admitted--but her looks were never used to better advantage.

With several plot twists and turns, it keeps you thoroughly absorbed until it reaches its satisfying climax under Otto Preminger's knowing direction. Not to be missed, it's a classic of its kind.

For a detailed look at the career of DANA ANDREWS, see my current article on him in FILMS OF THE GOLDEN AGE, Summer 2001 with a look at all of his films and many photos.

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42 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

Classic Film Noir with Perfect Cast

Author: jbritton ( from Estes Park, CO
15 June 2000

Laura is a wonderful example of film noir. The cast is perfect. Dana Andrews is the detective assigned to investigate the murder of Laura (played by Gene Tierney). As he interviews her associates and becomes mesmerized by her portrait, he begins to fall for Laura posthumously. Clifton Webb plays her mentor perfectly and Vincent Price is classic as Laura's pretty boy fiance. Although the movie begins with Laura's murder, it still has incredible surprises and an awesome denouement. Andrews hard boiled detective and the dark, raining sets illustrate the meaning of film noir. I highly recommend it.

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46 out of 60 people found the following review useful:

One of Otto Preminger's best

Author: Dennis Littrell from United States
23 August 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is film noir played in part as a comedy of manners. (Incidentally, a comedy of manners gets its name from the satirical possibilities in the differing class views on proper behavior--manners--exploited by playwrights to the delight of an audience placed in a superior position--they think--of social discernment. Here we can see the differentials, but they are not played for comedic effect.)

Gene Tierney (at twenty-four) stars as Laura Hunt, a beautiful career girl who, as the picture opens, has been murdered. (Shot in face with a double barreled shotgun, a point of information not dwelled on by director Otto Preminger. Today's directors, of course, would have begun with a full facial shot of the corpse.) Dana Andrews is the leading man, playing Mark McPherson, a hard-boiled police detective with a soft heart. Vincent Price, who before he became a maven of horror, was actually a soft-spoken, hunkish ladies man, plays Shelby Carpenter, who could afford to have his reputation blemished, but not his clothes. He is a man about town who would fit nicely into a British comedy of manners at the turn of the nineteenth century.

But the surprising star is Clifton Webb who plays Waldo Lydecker, venomous columnist and radio personality, who against his first impressions, falls madly (and of course hopelessly) in love with Laura and becomes her mentor. This was before the genteel and very precise veteran of the musical stage was Mr. Belvedere, and before his triumph in Cheaper by the Dozen (1950), that is to say, before he was typecast as an irascible but lovable middle aged man--but not before his fiftieth birthday; strange how the fortunes of actors may go. By the way, George Sanders's Oscar-winning performance as the cynical critic in All About Eve (1950), owes something to Webb's work here.

The strength of the movie is in the intriguing storyline featuring surprising but agreeable plot twists, and especially in the fine acting by Webb, Andrews, Tierney and Price. Webb in particular is brilliant. I think this is another example of Otto Preminger getting a lot more out of his actors than he is usually given credit for. See Anatomy of a Murder 1959, starring James Stewart and Lee Remick, for another example. Known for turning commercial novels into commercial movies (e.g., The Man with the Golden Arm (1955); Exodus (1960); Advise and Consent (1962)) Preminger is at his best when he lets the material have its way. I call that the invisible style of directing and he follows it here. Add the beautiful score by David Raksin and this movie is a special treat.

As a mystery however it is a little predictable. We know from the beginning not only who will get the girl, but with a very high probability who pulled the trigger. What we don't know in the first case is how, since she is presumably dead, and in the second case, why. The lack of motive hides the killer's identity from us. But rest assured, all is unraveled in the final reel.

See this for Clifton Webb whose improbable Hollywood success, beginning with this movie, started when he was in his fifties and ended when he was in his sixties. If I were a thirty-year-old actor running to auditions, I would call that inspiration.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)

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53 out of 74 people found the following review useful:

The crafty Preminger's coded, high-style murder mystery hasn't lost its perdurable appeal

Author: bmacv from Western New York
27 October 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Rashomon-like, Vera Caspary's clever suspense novel Laura falls into five sections and five separate voices, telling its story from the viewpoint of each of its principal characters. It was too cumbersome a structure for a 1940s mystery, so the script (by Jay Dratler and others) simplifies and concentrates the narrative for director Otto Preminger to play with. Judith Anderson as Laura's aunt Ann Treadwell, a vain and silly society dame, and Vincent Price as Shelby Carpenter, a 'male beauty in distress' and on-again, off-again paramour both to Treadwell and to Laura, find themselves demoted to supporting players (if still a couple of satisfyingly kippered herring). Caspary's pentacle gets rejigged into an old-fashioned triangle, with viper-tongued newspaper columnist Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) and wise-mouthed police detective-lieutenant Mark MacPherson (Dana Andrews) locking horns over the elusive Laura (Gene Tierney). Elusive isn't the half of it. For the first half of the movie, she's presumed dead, her face obliterated by a load of buckshot when she answered the door of her apartment one stifling Friday night in New York City. MacPherson's on the track of her killer and pieces together her story: How through brains and determination (not to mention looks) she rose in the advertising industry, how she met the powerful Lydecker by seeking his endorsement for a fountain pen (first meeting a rebuff on the grounds that he writes with 'a goose quill dipped in venom'), how they became a high-profile, May-December couple in Manhattan society. But to Lydecker's sniffy chagrin, Laura didn't see herself as his exclusive chattel. There were other men: The painter who did her portrait that hangs over her fireplace, for instance (out of spite, Lydecker demolished him in the press), and then the indolent hulk Carpenter. MacPherson learns most of this while interviewing Lydecker in his bath, where the feared and lionized wordsmith fashions his prose on a typewriter perched atop a trestle across his marble tub ('It's lavish but I call it home'). With his imperious queenly airs, Webb takes his performance as Lydecker into a rarefied realm that can't have failed to register even in 1944, that of the closeted, elegant gentleman critic using the glamorous Laura as his beard (it's a dimension that was far fainter in the novel). But his full-tilt camping makes his desperate obsession with Laura if taken at face value too perfumed a lozenge to swallow. MacPherson's obsession, however, looks like the real McCoy. The testimonials to her beauty, her vibrancy, her elegance start to work on him, until he finds himself holed up at the crime scene her apartment gazing at her portrait while drinking himself into a trance (to David Raskin's entrancing title song) and falling asleep in her armchair. (As Lydecker puts it, he's fallen in love with a corpse.) When he awakens, it's to find Laura, come back from the dead actually from her country place where she's spent the weekend, oblivious to her supposed murder. (The victim turns out to be a model who worked at her agency.) Laura's eerie reemergence reactivates all the tensions and antagonisms slackened, or frozen, by her presumed death. With Laura now among the living, Lydecker finds in MacPherson a more formidable 'disgustingly earthy' rival than the penniless playboy Carpenter, while MacPherson finds himself working not on a remote case but seeking the perpetrator of the attempted murder of a woman he's infatuated with (who, since there was in fact a corpse, finds herself a suspect as well).... One of the more perdurable movies of the 1940s, Laura nonetheless remains perplexing. Set in the upper-crust New York of terraced penthouses and chic botes and the Algonquin Hotel (where Lydecker's prototype, Alexander Woolcott, held court at the fabled Round Table), it gives off more than a whiff of the Gothic, of tales set on the moors or craggy seacoasts. (Echoes of Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca abound, above and beyond the presence of Judith Anderson, as do those of a more contemporary New York story, I Wake Up Screaming). It's a stylish and stylized murder mystery that finds the tangled liaisons among its characters more absorbing than what clues may be hidden inside the grandfather's clock. Those characters have been written off as superficial, and their liaisons as implausible, a point which carries some validity. The making of the movie was troubled, with producer Darryl Zanuck replacing Rouben Mamoulian with Preminger, then clashing with Preminger over his casting of the flamboyantly gay Broadway star Webb. Preminger was a shrewd and worldly man who surely knew how Webb would 'read' even to audiences in the boondocks (not to mention his casting of Price and Anderson, two more actors about whom rumors persist). So there's little getting around the fact that Laura stands as what has come to be called a 'coded' movie, brimming with subtext. But coded how? Preminger saw his movie as less about heterosexual passion gone homicidal than about a superficial culture of celebrity and hype and image. Lydecker's obsession was not so much with Laura's flesh as with fantasy a rising star to which he could he hitch his jaded wagon. He's a demented fan who fancies that only his own enthusiasm and puffery make her shine. It's the only version of reality that the narcissistic, grandiose Lydecker can accept, with himself as both creator and custodian of her legend. It was the world Laura, too, occupied and enjoyed, if fitfully, a world which she departed for meatier trysts, albeit with lovers who lived in the same fairyland of ritzy illusion. Until she met (and almost too late) MacPherson, a prole without affectation who came to love her as a physical organism rather than as a creature of publicity, a fabulous freak of the zeitgeist. Under a veneer of arch sophistication (aptly captured by director of photography Joseph LaShelle), Preminger found an affirmation of bedrock American values. But he burrowed into that bedrock by the most oblique and unlikely of routes, having himself a great deal of perverse fun along the way. As crafty in his own way as Caspary was in hers, Preminger managed to satisfy wartime ticket-buyers, and he continues to satisfy decadent cinastes six decades later.

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37 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

Classic Mystery With Wit & Style

Author: Snow Leopard from Ohio
14 June 2001

"Laura" is a classic murder mystery and more. The main characters make for a fascinating psychological study, and the movie is also filled with wit and style, in addition to a murder mystery that holds plenty of interest in its own right.

The story opens with a detective (Dana Andrews) questioning suspects in the murder of popular, beautiful, and successful Laura Hunt. As he does, we learn not only about the suspects but about Laura herself, through flashbacks. We see Laura (Gene Tierney) develop the career and relationships that eventually led to danger, and we also learn that Laura meant something very different to each of the suspects: the snobbish, venomous writer who launched her career (Clifton Webb), the worthless playboy whom Laura was going to marry (Vincent Price, in a role quite different for him) and her rather desperate aunt (Judith Anderson). Even the detective quickly becomes obsessed with Laura's memory. The psychological overtones of all this add considerably to the mystery plot.

The mystery story itself is quite good, with interesting details and at least one major surprise along the way. The climax is tense and exciting, a fitting conclusion to both the mystery plot and the complex relationships among the characters. The acting and direction are all very good, and make the most of the story's possibilities.

"Laura" is a must-see not only for those who like mysteries, but for anyone who likes classic cinema made with style.

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46 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

Of Love, Murder and Obsession

Author: jhclues from Salem, Oregon
6 May 2001

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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31 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Laura And Her Curious Friends

Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
10 August 2006

Laura Hunt has been murdered in a most grisly way, a shotgun blast to the face as she answered her apartment door. Dana Andrews as Detective Mark McPherson is assigned to the case and he's got a good list of suspects to work from in this up close and personal murder.

Laura Hunt hung out with some real characters. Dana Andrews has a good group to choose from. There's Vincent Price who was to marry Laura, a worthless playboy who spends his life as a permanent party guest. There's Clifton Webb as the epicene critic and noted wit who was a kind of sponsor for Laura into society. There's Judith Anderson as Laura's sophisticated aunt who has a yen for Price. There's even Dorothy Adams as Bessie, Laura's lesbian maid who is carrying a titanic torch for her ex-employer.

Andrews very patiently and methodically goes through the suspects. In his way he's as officious and annoying as Lieutenant Columbo on television. But he does get to the truth. Of course there's one very big surprise for him during the course of the investigation.

Gene Tierney is Laura and she was a beauty in her day. Man or woman, who wouldn't be crushing out on her. This film was the first one that got Dana Andrews any real notice from the critics. And of course Clifton Webb made a screen debut in this after a long career on Broadway. Webb got an Oscar nomination for his role of Waldo Lydecker as a Best Supporting Actor, but lost to Barry Fitzgerald for Going My Way.

David Raksin's musical theme for this film is one of the great ones ever done for the cinema. So popular did it prove that Johnny Mercer wrote a lyric for it after the film came out. At the time people like Frank Sinatra and Dick Haymes and a host of others rushed to record it.

I guess you could classify Laura as a kind of sophisticated noir police drama. It's dialog will leave you begging for more. It's not much in the way of mystery because about a third of the way through you will realize at the same time Andrews does who the murderer is, maybe even before Andrews does. That doesn't matter though because Laura is entertaining every step of the way.

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