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USA 1944
produced by
Otto Preminger for 20th Century Fox
directed by Otto Preminger
starring Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price, Judith Anderson, Dorothy Adams, Grant Mitchell, John Dexter, Ralph Dunn, Clyde Fillmore, James Flavin, Lee Tung Foo, Kathleen Howard, Buster Miles
screenplay by Jay Dratler, Samuel Hoffenstein, Elizabeth Reinhardt, based on the novel by Vera Caspary, music by David Raksin

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Laura (Gene Tierney) is murdered in her apartment, and when detective McPherson (Dana Andrews) starts to investigate, he finds a few too many suspects with strong motives, but neither of them seems to qualify as the actual murderer: There's Laura's fatherly friend Waldo (Clifton Webb), who regards her as his creation, is a bitter cynic and suffers from jealousy, there is her fiancé Sheldy (Vincent Price), a good-for-nothing womanizer who had many an affair behind her back, there's her aunt Ann (Judith Anderson), who actually introduced her to Shelby, but wants him for himself, and there's a model Shelby had an affair with who remains elusive. Especially Waldo and Shelby fight over her, even after her death, and each tries to make the other look guilty ...

The more McPherson investigates, the more he falls in love with Laura, a woman he has actually never even met. Then Laura shows up very much alive in her apartment, where he has fallen asleep going through her mail and diary, and she is not even aware that she's supposed to be dead, which puts a whole new spin on the case: Turns out the elusive model is the dead woman, and Shelby had a date with her in Laura's apartment. Despite all of this, Laura soon seems to cover for Shelby and he covers for her ... and it only eventually turns out they were only covering for each other because they suspected the respective other to be guilty.

McPherson gets more and more desperate to crack the case, so he eventually makes an arrest in front of all the suspects - Laura. Of course, he hasn't believed in her guilt for even an instant, but he figures the arrest will get the real killer out into the open ...

Eventually, McPherson finds the decisive clue, a secret cabinet in Laura's grandfather's clock that was given to her by Waldo and which he was desperate to get back after her suspected death - and in that cabinet, there's the gun used in the murder of the model. For some reason, McPherson leaves the gun where it was and indirectly confronts Waldo with the fact that he suspects him, suspects him of having tried to shoot Laura out of jealousy and only hit the othre woman by mistake. When Waldo sees Laura being drawn to the cop, jealousy gets the better of him again and after the police is gone, he sneaks back into her apartment to try and shoot her again, with the gun he knows is still in the grandfather's clock - but this time, the police arrives to save the woman and kill Waldo before he can kill her ...


Laura is widely regarded as a masterpiece of film noir filmmaking, and deservedly so, it's elegantly directed, features a great cast, and tells a great plot in an interesting way. However, upon closer inspection, one can't help but find a few narrative flaws in the film's finale: Why on earth does McPherson leave the murder weapon in its place after he has found it, how come Waldo carries bullets for his gun with him even when he doesn't carry the gun, and how come the police leave Laura pretty much unprotected after they have found the murderer and told him they suspect him? And why didn't McPherson arrest him right away? And since we're asking questions anyway, why did Shelby have a date with the other woman in not his but his fiancée's apartment?

All questions that would deserve an answer, but none of these really matter while watching the film because it's made in such an expert way it just polishes over its narrative shortcomings so they hardly matter at least while you watch the movie.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD



Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...


Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!


Bauliche Angelegenheiten
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