Vera Caspary, Jay Dratler, Samuel Hoffenstein, Elizabeth Reinhardt,
and Otto Preminger, 1944
A woman named Laura has died, and as the detective investigating the
case conducts his interrogations, he begins to fall in love with her.
From what I'd heard about this movie, I was expecting something elliptical
and atmospheric. Instead, it's practically a comedy. Every line just
screams, "Hello! It's us, the writers! Aren't we witty?" And even though
sometimes the answer is yes, I prefer more naturalism. A lot of the movie
is based on emotional arcs, but very little emotion comes through in the
I first heard of this movie in 1990, when it was cited as a chief inspiration
for Twin Peaks. I was not actually a Twin Peaks fan, but it
was such a big phenomenon that even trivia about it was hard to miss. Even
harder to miss are the parallels between Laura and Twin Peaks
— they're a lot more obvious than I expected.
I saw on the back of the DVD package that Vincent Price was in the movie. I
then proceeded to spend the entire movie thinking that Clifton Webb was Vincent
Price! Like, I knew Vincent Price was only in his 30s when the movie was made,
but Webb looked so much like Price ended up looking later in life that I
honestly thought that Price just looked preternaturally aged even in his youth.
As it turns out, Price plays the guy who looks like a cornfed football player!
Speaking of the DVD package, I'm glad I didn't read it very closely, because
the blurb on the back gives away the most important part of the movie. Idiots!
Finally, while a lot of the character stuff doesn't work — characters
supposedly into one another evince no discernible chemistry — there's
one element of the movie that requires no explanation. To wit: throughout the
film, people get a glimpse of Laura and instantly become her love slaves, even
after she's dead. Are we really supposed to believe that?
In a word, yes.
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