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Other/Miscellaneous => Off-Topic Discussion => Topic started by: drinkanddestroy on October 23, 2012, 01:05:58 AM

Title: Laura (1944)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 23, 2012, 01:05:58 AM
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037008/

Laura (1944) 8/10

(My recommendation is that anyone who hasn't seen the movie not read this thread until they do so, cuz it will be full of spoilers).


Cast and plot synopsis, courtesy of imdb


A police detective falls in love with the woman whose murder he's investigating.

Gene Tierney    ...   Laura Hunt
    Dana Andrews    ...   Det. Lt. Mark McPherson
    Clifton Webb    ...   Waldo Lydecker
    Vincent Price    ...   Shelby Carpenter
    Judith Anderson    ...   Ann Treadwell




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past posts on this movie from the Film Noir Discussion Thread:


 http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=1822.msg134671#msg134671

Dust Devil:
Laura (1944)

Better and more tense story if compared to TMF, with even better acting and way more interesting characters. And with Gene Tierney. If you have an actress like her you can shoot wherever you like.


8.3/10

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http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=1822.msg134673#msg134673

dave jenkins: (jenkins cites Dust Devil's previous post and says):

We're in close agreement here. A lot of the air goes out of this one when Tierney returns from the dead. This could have been a first-draft for Vertigo, but they muffed it. Also, the solution to the murder is rather disappointing. I agree about the acting and the characters. Clifton Webb is a real hoot.

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http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=1822.msg148931#msg148931

titoli:

Laura (1944) The great asset of the movie is Clifton Webb in a perfect character played perfectly: an Oscar-worthy performance. I like the ambiguity of his relationship to the girl: he loves her and he is jealous but probably he's not able to possess her sexually (of course that couldn't be made plain in those times, exactly as Webb's own real life tendencies). The plot is so-so (I am 100% sure Caspary took some inspiration from Van Dine's The Canary Murder Case)  but it is not important, at least until the protagonist reappears. The classic tune always bored me after the first 10 notes.  7\10






Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 23, 2012, 03:36:34 PM
Having a dead guy do narration: doesn't that break a rule, dj?
Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: cigar joe on October 23, 2012, 03:59:19 PM
Holden narrated  Sunset Blvd - no?
Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 23, 2012, 06:10:35 PM
Holden narrated  Sunset Blvd - no?

yes, but that's why, dj says, Sunset Boulevard tells us right away that Holden is dead: it's like, we're breaking a rule, but we're cluing you in on it all along; if you'd find out he's dead only in the last scene, you'd complain that they pulled a fast one on you; so you can "break the rules" if you inform the viewer from the beginning that you are doing so

but with Laura, it turns out that the guy who is narrating is actually dead. (Maybe you can say that this is appropriate in Laura because that whole movie is about playing around with the idea of "who is really dead," in that the "murder victim" turns out to be alive, and Dana Andrews was in love with a dead girl who turned out to be alive  ;))

Anyway, I think that both Sunset Boulevard and Laura might have avoided any potential problems by making the narrator be dying rather than already dead; it could be his dying thoughts, or his dying confession, and then he can drop dead just after his narration is over. Particularly with Sunset Boulevard, I think it's a shame that the movie gave away that Holden was dead all along. I mean, it's an amazing movie, one of my 5 favorite noirs of all time; but IMO they didn't have to give away the ending.

------------------------------------------------


As a general matter, I think narration is something that is frequently misused in noirs. Narration should have  real purpose, rather than just an excuse for a director who doesn't know how to tell a story i pictures, which is what it often seems to feel like (this is a GENERAL criticism of some of the noir narrations, certainly not a criticism of the great noirs like Sunset Blvd , which is one of the greatest movies ever made).

There should be a purpose to the narration, a reason why the narration is necessary and adds to the story. When you use narration, can often let you get away with not having a great opening or ending, and with no being able to tell a story well; you can just describe in words anything that you had difficulty showing. certainly, Holden's narration is an indispensable element of SB; like any otehr element of a movie, it can be great in some instances, but be an excuse for shitty moviemaking in other instances.

eg. there's a movie called CRY TERROR where, in two scenes in the movie, when the filmmakers felt they had to pass the time and couldn't tell a story in pictures, James Mason and Inger Stevens each have one scene where they suddenly give some narration: at no other point before or after is there any narration, it serves no purpose other than a director getting away easy. (or in some instances, the studio added it against the director's wish, like in the Western "Across the Wide Missouri." After William Wellman directed the moviem, the studio added in a narration which angered Wellman so much, he tried to sue to have his name removed from the movie. He lost).

It's one thing to  film good individual scenes, but it's another thing to weave them together to build a great story; storytelling involves much more than great individual scenes; the transitional elements and scenes are incredibly important. Well, narration can sometimes allow a filmmaker to just film a bunch of great individual scenes, and then get away easily without having to build them into a story.

Being an architect required more than  designing 5 beautiful individual rooms: it requires putting it all together to design a big beautiful house  :)
Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: stanton on October 24, 2012, 01:00:49 AM
Uhh, there was a narration in Laura by a dead character?
Ha ha, I should remember this, but I don't. Who is the narrator?
Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 24, 2012, 01:22:28 AM
Uhh, there was a narration in Laura by a dead character?
Ha ha, I should remember this, but I don't. Who is the narrator?

The writer, played by Clifton Webb. he is killed at the end of the movie. he is narrating from somewhere in hell  >:D
Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: stanton on October 24, 2012, 01:32:46 AM
Interesting.

Well, Webb had the best parts in this otherwise dated film anyway. 6/10
Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 24, 2012, 01:36:57 AM
Laura chose the two weirdest motherfuckers imaginable as lovers: Vincent Price and Clifton Webb
Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 24, 2012, 01:42:24 AM
Interesting.

Well, Webb had the best parts in this otherwise dated film anyway. 6/10

Dana Andrews is very good in the movie.


How exactly is Laura dated
Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: stanton on October 24, 2012, 04:39:29 AM
I watched it last year with a friend, who is a Chandler fan and interested in Noirs. We both agreed that it was nothing special.

Frankly said I have already forgotten most of it. The story was nothing special. Neither were the characters (except Webb) and the style. Dana Andrews, who was never fascinating for me in any film, is ok, and as I don't remember anything from Tierney in this film, I assume she does not gave me much. She was maybe good but not as mysterious as the title and her portrait at the wall suggests.

The feminine and cynical Webb character was something new for a Hollywood film, and from a modern point of view he is still pretty interesting, but not spectacular anymore. The rest is conventional stuff.
Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: dave jenkins on October 24, 2012, 05:32:18 AM
The theme song is justly famous. Robert Wyatt does a nice version.
Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: dave jenkins on October 26, 2012, 03:00:19 PM
The U.S. Blu has been announced for 2/5/13.
Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 27, 2012, 09:19:29 PM
The U.S. Blu has been announced for 2/5/13.

1) For black-and-white movies that have been preserved well and look good on dvd, do you generally see a significant upgrade with the quality on blu ray?


2) DJ, you previously said that Sunset Blvd. had to inform us in the first scene that Holden was dead; that way, the movie could justify breaking the rules by using a dead narrator; whereas if the viewer hadn't found out until the end that Holden was dead, then we would have called BULLSHIT over the fact that the movie was narrated by a dead guy.

I am just wondering then, how do you feel about the narration in Laura? Is it bullshit that the movie is narrated by the Clifton Webb character, who gets killed at the end? (And btw the narration is not his "dying thoughts" either; the movie is clearly being narrated by a guy who is already dead).

Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: cigar joe on October 28, 2012, 03:49:52 AM
1) For black-and-white movies that have been preserved well and look good on dvd, do you generally see a significant upgrade with the quality on blu ray?
  DJ has stocks in blu ray don't cha know  :D
Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: dave jenkins on October 28, 2012, 04:18:40 AM
1) The upgrade for b&w titles isn't as noticable. I'm happy with the DVDs of many films that I don't plan to buy blurays for.

2) Part of the reason I don't much esteem  Laura is because of the "lying" narration. Notice the filmmakers saw a problem too: halfway through the picture the narration disappears.
Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 28, 2012, 05:13:43 AM
Part of the reason I don't much esteem  Laura is because of the "lying" narration. Notice the filmmakers saw a problem too: halfway through the picture the narration disappears.

can't they have avoided the problem of the "lying" narration by just making it the thoughts of a man who is dying, rather than dead. so if, instead of Clifton Webb being killed instantly and lying on the ground dead, how about if he was shot and is slowly dying, and recounting the story as he lay there dying, and then he actually dies only once the story ends. Kind of like how it's done in Carlito's Way (I didn't much like that movie, and there are other problems with the narration there; but the point is that if you have it as someone's dying thoughts rather than his dead thoughts, you basically accomplish all that you set out to accomplish, but don't have the problem that the narration is a LIE
Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: stanton on October 28, 2012, 05:21:10 AM
Lying narration or a narration by a dead guy, I like those ideas as long as not every film does it.

But having a narration only in one part of the film sounds pretty inconsequent. That's probably why I forgot that it was narrated by a dead.
Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: cigar joe on October 28, 2012, 05:35:28 AM
can't they have avoided the problem of the "lying" narration by just making it the thoughts of a man who is dying, rather than dead. so if, instead of Clifton Webb being killed instantly and lying on the ground dead, how about if he was shot and is slowly dying, and recounting the story as he lay there dying, and then he actually dies only once the story ends. Kind of like how it's done in Carlito's Way (I didn't much like that movie, and there are other problems with the narration there; but the point is that if you have it as someone's dying thoughts rather than his dead thoughts, you basically accomplish all that you set out to accomplish, but don't have the problem that the narration is a LIE
Isn't that done in Double indemnity ?
Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 28, 2012, 05:43:18 AM
Isn't that done in Double indemnity ?

well, he was shot and is trying to escape, he doesn't realize that he is dying

 my problem with the narration in DI is a whole separate issue: it's that the narration gives away the entire movie, as its happening. There's no suspense at all. Basically, MacMurray says what's going to happen, then we see the scene where it happens. Then MacMurray says another bit of the story, and we see the scene where that bit is acted out, then it returns to MacMurray's teling another bit of the story, and we see the scene where that happens....... MacMuray's narration tells the whole story bit by bit, just before each scene. So when we actually see the scenes being acted out, there's very little suspense. It's absolutely ridiculous, the worst sort of narration ever. if they wanted to use narration, they could have used something like The Postman Always Rings Twice, in which the narration is a  Death Row confession, but gives away very little.

Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on October 28, 2012, 05:44:36 AM
Lying narration or a narration by a dead guy, I like those ideas as long as not every film does it.


I think that in this instance, what dj is referring to as "lying narration" is the fact that the narration is done by a dead guy. It's not two separate things: the narration is lying BECAUSE it is done by a  dead guy
Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: stanton on October 28, 2012, 06:26:19 AM
Lying narration would be that the narrator tells lies. An example is the flashback lie in Stage Fright, which probably wasn't done before.

A dead narrator is no problem if one excepts that films are not the reality.

Oliver Stone's new film starts with the narrator's doubts that she will survive the story she tells:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KC2zbOwbeEs
Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: dave jenkins on October 28, 2012, 01:38:03 PM
can't they have avoided the problem of the "lying" narration by just making it the thoughts of a man who is dying, rather than dead. so if, instead of Clifton Webb being killed instantly and lying on the ground dead, how about if he was shot and is slowly dying, and recounting the story as he lay there dying, and then he actually dies only once the story ends.
They did that in the Ida Lupino film The Hard Way. The problem with that approach for Laura is that the narrator has, not to put too fine a point on it, a rather arch way of speaking. It's hard to imagine him maintaining that tone if he knew he was dying and/or he was in pain.
Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 27, 2013, 10:48:27 AM
Beaver on the Blu: http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/dvdreviews10/laura_.htm

Looks to me like I can be content with my DVD, but others might want to upgrade.
Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: greenbudgie on March 12, 2018, 03:21:47 AM
I saw this again yesterday. I still haven't given a rating to this. There are some classic noir night scenes in it. It's just that it leaves me unsatisfied somehow.

Judith Anderson is good hankering after her gigolo. She says that she knows he's no good but he is exactly what she needs. I think Vincent Price is miscast as the gigolo. Normally I like him. The rest of the cast are right.

Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: kjrwe on March 13, 2018, 12:33:49 AM
I saw this film for the first time about 12 or 13 years ago. I loved it then and I still love it now...after about 30 viewings or something.

Gene Tierney was so lovely. Dana Andrews was very hot. The entire cast did a great job. The music is lovely.
Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: dave jenkins on March 13, 2018, 10:09:18 AM
I like the film until it becomes clear Laura hasn't really died. Then, for me, all the gas goes out of the picture. The idea of the hero being in love with a dead woman is something really worth exploring. Obviously we had to wait for Vertigo to see that idea get proper treatment.
Title: Re: Laura (1944)
Post by: kjrwe on March 15, 2018, 10:12:59 PM
By the way, regarding the narration issue, I barely noticed it. Waldo does an intro at the start....so what? I've always been fine with it.

This film is one of my faves. I'll keep watching it over and over again because I love it.  O0