We have characteristics of film noir - the unreliable narrator (which is somewhat confusing since he only seems to narrate at the very beginning), a story that focuses on crime - specifically the aftermath of the murder of the titular character - and as I have stated, darkness found towards the conclusion of the film. A lot of the film seems like a boring love triangle drama - make that a love square consisting of Laura, Detective McPherson, the film's brief narrator: Lydecker, and Carpenter. Naturally, each man offers something different to Laura and each has his own flaws. Unfortunately, none of these romances is developed well enough so we never know which one is supposed to be the focus of the story.
This conflicting love triangle is one of two stories in the film - the other focusing on the question of who attempted to murder Laura and why. If the film was more devoted to this mystery rather than the underdeveloped romances Laura has with different men, this may have turned out to be a very tense film similar to the repertoire of Hitchcock. Luckily this film is saved from being below decent since its conclusion is tense and to the point. No falling action in this film, leaving it to end on an exciting climax.
I plan to revisit this film in the near future to make sure I did not miss something which would make this film great. Overall this is a well-made film, but a tad boring in my opinion.
Before we meet her, Laura is painted as an enchantress: the living embodiment of fascination and desire. When we meet her, in the form of Gene Tierney's doe-eyed teeny bopper, she doesn't quite deliver the goods. Preminger sees her as a quietly pretty Dorian Gray but, in this genre, with all the men running rings around her, she needs to be more of a sly Lauren Bacall.
Laura is the central subject of the plot, but Tierney becomes faceless and forgotten in view of Clifton Webb's stiff, manipulative Waldo; the movie's real narrative agent. Even an un-moustachioed Vincent Price suppressing his signature drawl has more stage presence than poor little Laura.
The film's melodramatic plot is characterised by a peculiar air of carelessness, which only adds to the intrigue, and Preminger's picture is, in every which way, a smouldering slow-burner with bags of character. It's just a shame that the same can't be said for its miscast and mis-written leading lady.