Wednesday, May 8, 2013
168. LAURA (1944)
Running Time: 88 minutes
Directed By: Otto Preminger
Written By: Jay Dratler, Samuel Hoffenstein, Elizabeth Reinhardt, from novel by Vera Caspary
Main Cast: Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price, Judith Anderson
Click here to view the trailer
Watching from the old side slightly out of order, as it was meant to be "Meet Me in St. Louis" before "Laura", but I only had about an hour and a half to kill last night and so I went with the shorter choice. At this moment, I'm kind of glad I did, because "Laura" was a spectacular film that I'd put off for far too long.
Laura Hunt (Tierney) is dead and it's up to detective Mark McPherson (Andrews) to find out who did it. It won't be an easy task, however, because he has a suspect list as long as his arm. Perhaps the murderer, who gunned down Laura on Friday night, using a shotgun loaded with buckshot, is Shelby Carpenter (Price), her unfaithful fiance, who may have had more to gain from Laura's death than from her continuing to live. Perhaps it was Ann Treadwell (Anderson) or Diane Redfem, two women who Shelby has a history with and one of whom is in love with him. Or perhaps it was Waldo Lydecker (Webb), a friend of Laura's, a sort of mentor to her. While Waldo's motives aren't terribly clear, anything is possible as McPherson digs deeper and deeper into the case of Laura Hunt and begins, himself, to fall deeper and deeper under the mysterious, drawing spell of the beauty of Laura Hunt.
I didn't want to give too much away with the plot synopsis, because this movie is full of twists, turns & unexpected events and it's a movie that should be experienced without an amateur critic giving away those surprises. In fact, what can I even say about "Laura", besides to tell you how good it is. Sure, it isn't the best thing I've seen this season or anything, but it was very good and a bit of a surprise, especially considering I actually started "Laura" a couple of years ago and then stopped it because I just wasn't in the mood for a classic noir. Boy, what was I thinking? Anyway, one of the main things that "Laura" needs to be lauded for is it's intricate story, which incorporates all those twists & turns I mentioned above and it all makes sense. In other words, it isn't twists & turns for the sake of twisting and turning - we're talking about an age of movies where they didn't do that. Nowadays, the presumed dead character can reappear, without any explanation, other than to mess with the audience's head and that's just stupid. In "Laura", it all makes sense. Did anyone else think that McPherson was going to wake up at some point and realize that Laura was actually still dead and it was only in his dreams that he envisioned actually meeting the girl that everyone spoke so highly of? After all, Laura's reappearance did happen as McPherson woke up from a nap, in Laura's apartment, just after gazing at her portrait. Even though that didn't happen, it was still good that you had that option in your head, as your list of outcomes that could possibly come true. It only helped to keep you guessing and guessing right down to the bitter end. THE BOOK also makes a good point, in posing this question: Was Lydecker in love with Laura, killing her because he could never have her or did he want to be Laura, killing her because he couldn't?
The other must be lauded quality of "Laura" is the cast. Can I just say what a shame it is that my generation only remembers Vincent Price for his voice work in Michael Jackson's "Thriller". He was amazing in this movie and instead of remembering him for his voice box, we should be remembering for his acting chops, because Shelby was one of the most interesting characters in the picture and the way Price played him was memorable. Everyone else does an outstanding job too and I mean that in the literal sense of that word - meaning they're performances stood out from other movies and were impossible not to recognize as amazing. Clifton Webb, Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney were all great and together this cast put out a movie that's going to be difficult to forget come TOP 20 time, even if it doesn't nab one of the top spots.
RATING: 7.5/10 Really good stuff, but it's sparring within a really amazing season and whether or not it can overcome that will have to be seen.
MOVIES WATCHED: 677
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 324
May 8, 2013 11:58am
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