Sunday, November 06, 2005
Laura (1944) is one of the most stylish, elegant classic film noirs ever made with an ensemble cast of characters and a wonderful directed by Otto Preminger (our Director of the month)
Let’s start at the beginning. Laura Hunt is dead. She was a beautiful New York City socialite, played by Ms. Tierney, who was brutally murdered in her apartment at close range by a shotgun blast to the head. We see in flashback that she made her ascent to sophistication and riches from being a young, naive advertising agency employee who gets a monumental break in her career from a powerful newspaper columnist and radio personality, Waldo Lydecker, played by Cliffton Webb.
Dana Andrews plays the police detective who becomes obsessed, almost haunting, with a picture of Laura. There’s a moment he sits alone in Laura's apartment, gazing at her picture, and falls in love with a ghost. Also Vincent Price plays another suspect who turn out to have another secret lover (Judith Anderson).
We can’t talk about “Laura” without mentioning the fabulous score by David Raskin. (Laura score rank #7 greatest film score by AFI) There’s a story that Darryl Zanuck wanted to cut down the famous scene in which Dana Andrews wanders around Laura's apartment, looking through her things and staring at her portrait. David Raksin protested, saying that the scene was essential to showing the detective falling in love with Laura, and that it simply needed music. Zanuck said OK, and he and Preminger gave Raksin the weekend to come up with something original. Otherwise, "Sophisticated Lady" would be used. Over the weekend, Raksin received a letter from his wife saying she wanted to end their marriage, and out of his heartbreak came the hauntingly romantic tune which has touched audiences ever since. "I feel certain that the reason people responded as they do to that melody, in the picture and on its own, is that it is 'about' love, specifically about that yearning particular to unrequited love," said Raksin. Hedy Lamarr later said that she had turned down Laura because "they sent me the script, not the score."(from TCM.com)
Laura was nominated for five Academy Awards: Best Director (Otto Preminger), Best Cinematography (Joseph LaShelle), Best Supporting Actor (Clifton Webb), Best Art Direction and Best Screenplay, and it received the award for Best Cinematography. The crisply-written screenplay (by Jay Dratler, Samuel Hoffenstein and Betty Reinhardt) was based on the play and novel of the same name by Vera Caspary.