87 Min. | Crime – Drama – Film-Noir | January 1944
IMDB Rating: 8.1
Director: Otto Preminger
Staring: Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb
Laura Review: One of the best suspense films of the 1940s, “Laura” is loaded with elegant sophistication, witty dialogue, unscrupulous characters, and romantic obsession, all wrapped in hauntingly beautiful music. Lovely Gene Tierney is Laura, the young advertising executive allegedly murdered at the front door of her apartment. Dana Andrews is well cast as Mark MacPherson, the handsome, no nonsense detective assigned to unravel the case. Clifton Webb is superb as Waldo Lydecker, Laura’s mentor and an egocentric, effeminate newspaper columnist who has made a career of eliminating Laura’s prospective suitors. Lydecker detests Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price), a southern playboy to whom Laura is engaged. Anne Treadwell (Judith Anderson) is Laura’s aunt who, incidentally, is in love with Carpenter herself.
As MacPherson sorts through the motives and alibis, he finds Laura too bewitches him. In one of the most memorable movie scenes of all time, Dana Andrews gives an intense performance of a man driven to distraction by the story of Laura, her letters, private diary, perfume, and hauntingly lovely portrait above the fireplace. Clearly agitated, he takes a drink as he sits in a chair beneath Laura’s portrait. He falls asleep, and the audience is left wondering if his dreams of Laura are coming true, as she appears through the doorway. He awakens and rises from the chair, his soul shaken by the sight of Laura alive.
David Raksin’s musical theme for Laura is one of the great ones ever done for the cinema. So popular did it prove that Johnny Mercer wrote a lyric for it after the film came out. At the time people like Frank Sinatra and Dick Haymes and a host of others rushed to record it. This intriguing story, combined with Clifton Webb’s biting quips, Gene Tierney’s beauty and elegance, Dana Andrews’ intensity and dark good looks, and Vincent Price’s sense of humor, makes Laura immensely watchable again and again.