Laura

13 ratings (13 Epinions reviews)
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Laura (1944)

Sep 21, 1999 (Updated Jun 18, 2001)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:script, direction, cast, suspense

Cons:implausible events, campy

The Bottom Line: This movie is highly recommended to anyone who enjoys mysteries or classic movies. This means you!


Laura is a highly entertaining murder mystery. Well directed and scripted, with several surprise plot twists, it rarely drags, and survives many improbable sequences.

Laura (Gene Tierney) is an attractive, successful young woman who has been murdered. The primary suspects are her suitors: conceited, sneering columnist Clifton Webb and opportunistic ladies man Vincent Price. Dana Andrews plays the police detective who becomes obsessed with solving the case. Further complicating matters, Price has two other girlfriends, and, well... better not say any more!

After seeing Price ham it up in endless horror movies, he appears miscast playing a heartthrob. It must be remembered that audiences in 1944 had never seen him in any of those movies. Still, with unmistakable affected voice and manner, it is difficult to believe two lovely models and a wealthy spinster would be falling all over him, despite their better judgment.

Clifton Webb's character is the most interesting. Considered a great wit, he is in fact insecure and frail. He is fixated with keeping Tierney as a potential girlfriend, never admitting to himself that he is too old for her and she will sooner or later take someone else.

Still, he hangs about her, shooing off paramours. If one should linger, he jealously pries into his affairs for dirt to prove him unworthy of Laura. All his fame and success means nothing to him, and he will throw it all away if he can't have her. He gets more screen time than anyone, but only has third billing. I guess movie audiences would rather see Tierney and Andrews, who are bland but more physically attractive.

The story goes that midway through production, Fox studios mogul Darryl F. Zanuck fired the hapless director, Rouben Mamoulian. Otto Preminger took over as director, fired the cinematographer, and scrapped the existing footage. His efforts (and Zanuck's judgment) were rewarded with five Oscar nominations, including a win for Joseph LaShelle (Best B&W Cinematography). The other nods were for Best Director (Preminger), Best Screenplay (Lyle Wheeler, Leland Fuller, Thomas Little), Best Supporting Actor (Webb), and Best Interior Decoration.

There are many silly moments in Laura. In no manner should this movie's plot be compared with an actual murder investigation. But if the characters don't behave like real people would in their situations, they do behave consistently. And they are all very entertaining. (83/100)

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