- Such a great film! I recommend everyone see this. Vincent Price is great in it, actually the whole film is superb. The DVD has the Biography episode on Price as well which I watched.
Gene Tierney as the murder victim Laura seen in a painting in her apartment and in flashbacks convincingly demonstrates why everyone who knew who came to love or envy her. The terrific cast of supporting actors including Clifton Webb and Vincent Price are incredible, helping to keep the mystery of who shot Laura suspenseful, complex and confusing.
The film is a masterful example of film noir lighting and use of shadow. The music is, of course, on of the loveliest pieces ever composed. Laura is truly a masterpiece.
When watching TCM's The Essentials, I never know what to expect. I've seen classic films that are either worth the acclaim or those I believe to be overrated garbage. So when I found out about this murder mystery titled Laura, one that I had never heard of until this year, I had no idea how it would turn out, especially when hearing the difficulties the film had behind the scenes, such as changes in direction, casting, and its ending. I was unfamiliar with the work of director Otto Preminger, but after hearing that his films challenged the Hay's Code, it sounds like he was a pretty good filmmaker in his day. As for Laura, what could have been a cheesy, forgettable B-Movie ended up being a well-made film noir, and one that I would call an essential.
From the opening quote, it is established that the well-respected Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney) has been murdered. With that set up, an investigation is called out, led upon by detective Mark McPherson (Dan Andrews). Off the bat, the case has quite a few suspects, such as columnist/mentor Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb), Laura's suspicious fiancée Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price), the wealthy Ann Treadwell (Judith Anderson), and Laura's hysterical maid Bessie (Dorothy Adams). But the more Mark gets into the case, the more complex the issue is, and obsession starts to play in, and then... if I told you, then it wouldn't be a mystery.
Robert Osborne, TCM host and film historian that I deeply respect, stated on his show The Essentials that Laura is in his list of the Top 10 films of all-time, revealing that it's the heavy suspense and twists that always draws him in every time. And I admit, there's some very strong uses of plot twists scattered throughout the movie. But the film's weakness to me is the fact that, for me at least, figuring out who the murderer is is quite predictable, and I felt it weakened some of the twists, cause I was able to figure it out in the first 10 seconds of the picture when I first saw the actor's face. However, it doesn't mean that I was disappointed in the film. No, in reality, for a film that I had only heard of in a small amount of time, I was actually impressed with how well-made the film was.
What makes the film work for me are its acting performances. I knew that both Vincent Price and Judith Anderson were great performers, and while both aren't really the highlights of the movie, their appearances were still enjoyable to watch. Gene Tierney, an actress I had never heard of until watching this movie, is great in the role of Laura, considering she didn't have that much screen time, as her character gets murdered. But what I saw really impressed me, and I'm surprised I had never heard of her until now. Dana Andrews impressed in his role as the detective. But the true standout is Clifton Webb as the mentor. An old man obsessing over an attractive young woman is something very complex to discuss in a movie, and Webb does it brilliantly. He has the most memorable dialogue, and I strongly believe that if Webb was not involved in the film, the film wouldn't have been that engaging. Nuff said.
Considering how the film was only intended to be a B-Movie, the film could have been a whole lot worse. With filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock arriving on the scene, Laura could have been a very cheap imitation of what Hitch did best. But with some compelling cinematography, David Raskin's haunting score, and some enjoyable twists along the way, Laura, while nowhere as strong as other film noirs, such as Sunset Boulevard or The Bad and the Beautiful, is still a film I would consider an essential. Plus the ending is flat-out brilliant. Otto Preminger, I think you have gained another young movie fan.
"Goodbye, Laura. Goodbye... my Love."
Otto Preminger is at his directing best here: building the suspense, keeping the story flowing, all while developing characters.
Good performances by Gene Tierney as the potential murder victim and Dana Andrews as the cool, aloof detective. Clifton Webb got the only acting Oscar nomination in the cast, but I thought he was weaker than Tierney or Andrews. Maybe it is just that I found the character he played quite irritating.
Only negative is that the relationship between Laura and Waldo Lydecker just doesn't seem to make sense entirely. That may be down to the social mores of the time, more than anything else.