Sunday, November 10, 2013


LAURA (1944) Dir. Otto Preminger

Starring Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price, Judith Anderson

This is really one of the greats. I've seen the picture many times but like a few others on my Noirvember list I couldn't resist revisiting it.

As a director, Otto Preminger wasn't exactly know for his light touch. By all accounts he was nothing less than a screaming autocrat who bullied cast and crew to get his way. And in a lot of his films I think his heavy hand shows. But not Laura. Here he does an elegant job of portraying a group that we come to realize are morally bankrupt sociopaths. Like Fritz Lang's American films, there's little evidence of  German Expressionist lighting here. The darkness is in the hearts of the characters, right where it belongs. That's what noir is about.

It's nearly impossible to imagine more perfect casting for the title character than Gene Tierney. She was amazingly beautiful but there was something else. She projects an indefinable quality makes us absolutely understand why everyone in the film is obsessed with her. Her casting is the strongest storytelling tool at Preminger's disposal. But the rest of the cast is excellent as well, particularly Clifton Webb as Waldo Lydecker. On top of all this you get an excellent script with one of the best twists in any movie and David Raskin's brilliant score.

I can't go without mentioning all the ties to one of my other obsessions: David Lynch and Mark Frost's "Twin Peaks." LAURA Palmer. A detective falls in love with the girl whose murder he's investigating. Waldo is the mynah bird. Lydecker is the veterinarian. All right, that's enough. I'm being indulgent.

Just see this movie if you haven't already!

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