Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Clifton Webb and Gene Tierney
LAURA (1944). Producer/director: Otto Preminger.

"For a charming, intelligent girl you've certainly surrounded yourself with a collection of dopes." -- Waldo Lydecker.

"I write with a goose quill dipped in venom." -- ditto.

"This is beginning to assume fabulous aspects!" -- ditto.

Detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) is put on the case when a lady advertising executive, Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney), has her face blown off by a shotgun blast from an unknown killer. The suspects include her alleged fiance, Shelby (Vincent Price), her Aunt Ann (Judith Anderson), who is in love with Shelby, and Laura's patron Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb), who was not so much in love with Laura as he wanted to possess her because he feels she owes him everything. [A very important flashback sequence that was stupidly deleted but can now be seen on the DVD shows the early evolving relationship of Lydecker and Laura.] Preminger's direction is strictly routine, but the movie works because of the dialogue and acting; everyone [including Dorothy Adams as the rather neurotic maid, Bessie] is at their best and Webb, in his first major screen role, is magnificent; his trading bitchy barbs with Vincent Price is, eh, priceless. One especially stupid moment occurs when a certain character, knowing that a killer is on the loose who shoots people in the face point blank and that she might be next on his list, opens a door without even asking who it is. For all its flaws the picture is quite entertaining, and if nothing else, it turned the wonderful Webb into a major star.

Verdict: At least it doesn't have Lee Radziwill, who played Laura in a 1968 telefilm. ***.

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