Tuesday, November 2, 2010

#183 Laura (1944)


Director: Otto Preminger, Rouben Mamoullan

Cast: Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price, Judith Anderson

Considered to be one of the greatest film noirs of all time, Laura is a murder-mystery with all of the check boxes ticked: love triangles, obsession, black-and-white beauty, extravagance, detectives in trench coats, cigarettes, and mysterious disappearances. The film is also considered to have one of the greatest musical scores of its time.

Unfortunately, Laura fell flat for me.

It wasn't a total flop though. I followed the story. I understood the characters. I found the idea that a woman could be so entrancing that a detective could fall in love with her corpse very creepy and spectacular. I found Waldo's ambiguous sexuality suspicious and plot-twisting.

But to me-- as much as I love plot, costume, music, scenery, the whole nine yards of film-- at the end of the day, it's really all about the acting. Well, not always. But in film noir, certainly! Laura herself, though beautiful, had really no personality or charm to convince me she was worth all this trouble. The detective, though peculiar in his investigation methods, never really gave me too much indication that he WAS falling in love with Laura. And Waldo, albeit the most entertaining part of the movie, was rather obvious from the get-go in his intentions and guilt.

The mis-en-scene of the clock + baseball game bring some clever symbolism to the story, but not too clever to save the sinking ship. Ultimately, I want more entertainment value if all I'm getting is a murder mystery. I give it credit for its importance to its time... and that's about as much as I can spare.

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