Laura

Critics Consensus

A psychologically complex portrait of obsession, Laura is also a deliciously well-crafted murder mystery.

100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 60

91%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 10,729
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Movie Info

This adaptation of Vera Caspary's suspense novel was begun by director Rouben Mamoulien and cinematographer Lucien Ballard, but thanks to a complex series of backstage intrigues and hostilities, the film was ultimately credited to director Otto Preminger and cameraman Joseph LaShelle (who won an Oscar for his efforts). At the outset of the film, it is established that the title character, Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney), has been murdered. Tough New York detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) investigates the killing, methodically questioning the chief suspects: Waspish columnist Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb), wastrel socialite Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price), and Carpenter's wealthy "patroness" Ann Treadwell (Judith Anderson). The deeper he gets into the case, the more fascinated he becomes by the enigmatic Laura, literally falling in love with the girl's painted portrait. As he sits in Laura's apartment, ruminating over the case and his own obsessions, the door opens, the lights switch on, and in walks Laura Hunt, very much alive! To tell any more would rob the reader of the sheer enjoyment of watching this stylish film noir unfold on screen. Everything clicks in Laura, from the superbly bitchy peformance of Clifton Webb (a veteran Broadway star who became an overnight movie favorite with this film) to the haunting musical score by David Raksin. Long available only in the 85-minute TV version Laura has since been restored to its original 88-minute running time. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Laura

All Critics (60) | Top Critics (12)

Audience Reviews for Laura

  • Dec 13, 2015
    A good whodunit noir that, despite a plot weakened by contrivances (the worst being the detective falling in love with a dead woman's portrait), is memorable mostly because of David Raksin's score and the film's great dialogue (with Clifton Webb, fantastic, getting the most cynical, priceless lines).
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 20, 2013
    Preminger's Laura is a fabulous film noir with a level of perversity not typically found in films of this era. Obsession to a degree that we don't see in films until the 1960s primarily put forward by British directors.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 24, 2013
    The presumed death of a woman spurs a detective's investigation of her life and his slowly burning affection for the victim. A classic noir story shot in the brilliant shadows of forties noir cinematography with all the snappy dialogue that we come to expect of the genre, <i>Laura</i> is fun to watch. The actors' rapid fire delivery presents quick wits, and I always like how fast these films move. The story is as circuitous as <i>The Third Man</i>, but <i>Laura</i> is clearly not as strong because the relationship between McPherson and Laura is not as well developed as <i>The Third Man</i> and a greater mystique is built around Orson Welles's character; regardless, to be mentioned in the same breath as <i>The Third Man</i> is an achievement. Overall, if you like noir films, then this one delivers.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Aug 06, 2012
    Its a noir set entirely in "polite society" with dry wit and subtlety replacing the usual pulpy environment.That setting, coupled with the cold brutality of the murder is quite subversive. If there is anything in the film standard to the noir genre (besides the murder obviously), its the detective character and I like that his prickly attitude and use of the word "Dame" is constantly irking the other characters.
    Alec B Super Reviewer

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