Favorite things about… Laura (1944)

(Image: leagueofdeadfilms.com)

(Image: leagueofdeadfilms.com)

This post contains spoilers for Laura in the “Favorite things/quotes” section. Tread with caution if you’ve never seen this wonderful film!

The favorite film:
Laura, a 1944 noir/drama directed by Otto Preminger

The synopsis:
Detective Mark McPherson is investigating the death of Laura Hunt, a woman who has been found dead in her apartment. Interviewing plenty of suspicious people who knew her, McPherson begins to construct Laura and her life in his mind. Laura was a beautiful woman with a magnetic presence who seemed to capture the affection of everyone she met — who would want her dead? McPherson struggles to solve the case, but just when he thinks his investigation is headed on the right track, he has a strange experience that makes him question everything he’s learned.

The cast:
Dana Andrews as Detective Mark McPherson
Gene Tierney as Laura Hunt
Clifton Webb as Waldo Lydecker
Vincent Price as Shelby Carpenter
Judith Anderson as Ann Treadwell

Fun facts:

  • Rouben Mamoulian was originally set to direct the film, and actually began production. All of the footage he’d shot was tossed out when Otto took over.
  • Jennifer Jones was originally offered the role of Laura Hunt. Hedy Lamarr and Roz Russell were also offered the role; Lamarr didn’t like the script and Russell thought the part was too small.
  • The film was originally meant to be narrated by the characters of Waldo, Mark and Laura but in the end only Waldo’s narration was used. The film’s source material is separated into five sections in which each of the five principal characters are given the chance to share their perspective.
  • Laura marked Clifton Webb’s first return to the screen since the silent era. The film launched a comeback for the actor, who continued to appear in films until the early 1960s. It also earned him an Oscar nomination.
  • The portrait of Laura that hangs in her apartment was created by painting with oils over a photo of Gene Tierney. The same portrait has appeared in other films, including Woman’s World, which stars Clifton Webb.
  • Vincent Price recorded a musical number for this film that was supposed to launch his singing career. The song was cut from the film, and his singing career never took off!
  • A radio adaptation was made of the film with Vincent Price, Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews reprising their film roles. It was broadcast in February of 1945.
(Image: kellyriggsmysteries.com)

(Image: kellyriggsmysteries.com)

Favorite things/quotes:

  • “I shall never forget the weekend Laura died. A silver sun burned through the sky like a huge magnifying glass.”
  • Dana Andrews’ face and hat and pocket square and striped tie — in other words, every fact of Dana Andrews’ existence in this film
  • Lydecker being TOO prepared for his interview with McPherson about Laura’s death
  • Vincent Price!
  • Vincent’s first scene in this film always makes me laugh, as dramatic as the film is and as good as his performance is. I’m so used to watching his horror films a million times over that the “nice guy in an unfortunate situation” angle he gives his character to impress McPherson seems kind of comical.
  • Carpenter: “Waldo, for your own good, I’m warning you to stop implying that I had anything to do with Laura’s death.”
    Lydecker: “Very well, I’ll stop implying. I’ll make a direct statement.”
  • Lydecker: “Young woman, either you have been raised in some incredibly rustic community where good manners are unknown, or you suffer from the common feminine delusion that the mere fact of being a woman exempts you from the rules of civilized conduct. Or possibly both.”
  • Gene Tierney’s wardrobe
  • Lydecker: “Laura, dear, I cannot stand these morons any longer.”
  • Carpenter: “Good, what about three weeks from tonight and all the nights in between?”
    Laura: “Don’t you think I have any other engagements?”
    Carpenter: “What about two months from now and the month after that?”
    Laura: “What about next year?”
    Carpenter: “That’s all settled. What about breakfast?”
  • Everyone hanging out in Laura’s apartment as though a body wasn’t found there just a few days earlier
  • Lydecker (to McPherson): “Have you ever dreamed of Laura as your wife? By your side at the policeman’s ball, or in the bleachers, or listening to the heroic story how you got a silver shin bone from a gun-battle with a gangster? I see you have.”
  • Lydecker threatening to have McPherson locked away in a psychiatric ward. Drama, drama!
  • Even after her death Laura is causing jealous spats between grown men… BUT IS SHE REALLY DEAD? Suddenly, she appears to McPherson!
  • Laura: “What are you going to do now?”
    McPherson: “Find out who was murdered, and then find the murderer!”
  • The level of suspense picks up in a major way when Laura is revealed to be alive. The film was already good, but it gets even better at this point and remains high on mystery for the remainder of its running time.
  • Laura: “It’s all been a mistake, Bessie. I’m not a ghost, really!”
  • Laura: “I never have been and I never will be bound by anything I don’t do of my own free will.”
  • Laura dumping Lydecker for good, laying down the law
  • Mark McPherson and Laura Hunt: truth-hunting, crime-fighting team
  • The clock ticking loudly as Lydecker creeps around like a ghoul in the night
  • Lydecker: “And thus, as history as proved, love is eternal. It has been the strongest motivation for human action throughout centuries. Love is stronger than life. It reaches beyond the dark shadow of death.”
  • The super-dramatic ending
(Image: dbcovers.com)

(Image: dbcovers.com)

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7 thoughts on “Favorite things about… Laura (1944)

  1. Laura is such a fantastic film! I’ve always found it interesting that this was Webb’s first post-silent film, as it’s precisely his delivery of the dialogue that makes him so memorable in this.

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  2. Great film and I like your highlights. A couple of mine are the chat that Gene Tierney and Judith Anderson have in her room during the cocktail party where Judith lays it on the line about herself not being a nice person and that she knows Shelby’s no good but doesn’t care all the while dressed in that smart suit and great hat. The other is when Bessie walks in and finds out that Laura is alive. She screams virtually on the edge of a meltdown and how does Laura react? She puts Bessie to work making them breakfast! I’m sure it was just a throwaway scene but it always struck me as odd that the Laura that everyone, including Bessie, went on about being so kind doesn’t even think that maybe the woman might need a minute to regroup!

    I can’t imagine anyone being better than Gene Tierney in the role but I had read about the other possibilities except for Rosalind Russell.

    I am not a fan of Jennifer Jones, I don’t loath the woman but I almost always find her wan and can imagine other actresses in her parts doing better jobs. I did enjoy her in her last, The Towering Inferno but I love most everything about that film. Hedy would have done well, few exuded mystery better than her, but the film would have had another sort of vibe with her in the role. As much as I adore Roz she would have been very wrong as Laura, I have trouble even imagining her with Dana Andrews, their energy was just so different on screen.

    One side note that has little to do with Laura. You mentioned Woman’s World, have you seen it? It is fantastic, ultra luxe with a great cast and Betty Bacall throwing knowing one liners this way and that. If you haven’t do yourself a favor and try and track it down I think you’ll love it.

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    • I agree that Tierney was the best choice for the role. I can’t picture anyone else as Laura.

      I have seen Woman’s World and I did enjoy it! I’ll watch anything with Bacall.

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