Laura is a 1944 noir film directed by Otto Preminger and starring Dana Andrews and Vincent Price. It is one of the most well regarded noir films for good reasons.
It follows Mark, a detective investigating the murder of a beautiful and highly successful woman. It then of course turns out to be a complicated murder mystery with a lot of twists and turns. It is an incredibly well crafted movie with a nice beginning, thrilling ending and the middle parts which are the best, full of carefully established shots and details. I found the mystery intriguing, but it works as noir wonderfully thanks to a lot of atmospheric thrills with great cinematography. And it has a smart and meticulous approach to it with very well developed characters, superb use of flashbacks and well realized relationships between the characters.
Mark is a great central character with excellent screen presence and a realistic depiction. Laura is also excellent, Ann is memorable and Bessie is a typical, but sympathetic maid character. Shelby has his moments, but it is Waldo who is the best with very well depicted calculated manner and his character is explored best with his well explained reasoning and relationship with other characters.
The acting is one of the finest aspects in Laura. Dana Andrews is really good with great charisma, voice and even humor. He brought a lot to the table and his character I liked a lot. Vincent Price is also very good as is Gene Tierney. But Clifton Webb is superb and although I am not familiar with his other work, he proved his greatness here, delivering a powerhouse performance. The acting is terrific across the board.
Now, there are a few small problems I’ve had with the movie. First off, the story may seem ordinary, but just at first. Secondly, Dorothy Adams gives such a weak performance in the role of Bessie with an over-reliant emphasis on over-acting. I know that the role is written in such a way, but it was still highly unnecessary. And the third problem I have with Laura is its mystery and twists. I literally predicted 90 per cent of the plot twists and turns along with the murderer. It was kind of obvious to me who the murderer is and what would happen, but that maybe more because of me having seen a lot of movies than for the predictability of the plot. But those are all minor flaws in this otherwise superb movie.
It is an incredibly well directed film. Otto Preminger did a superb job. But it is above all such a deftly edited and paced movie with never a rushed or prolonged scene. Everything in this movie is so beautifully calculated and executed. The photography is very good and I liked the humor that is present at times and is so good. It was refreshing but sophisticated and at times quite funny. And the whole film is incredibly sophisticated with such an astonishing dialogue, clever and witty. The character motivations and relationships are well handled and the acting is magnificent. It is a technically superb movie, there is no doubt about it. And I liked the romantic aspects as well. And although somewhat predictable, Laura is still a very well crafted mystery with great technical aspects and both a brain and a heart.
It came out in 1944 and although nowhere near the quality of ‘Double Indemnity‘, it is still one of the very best films of that year. And I also think it is one of the best noir films. It is not one of the very best, but still one of the better ones I’ve watched.
Laura is such a great noir film with a well crafted plot, sophisticated dialogue, superb acting across the board and well depicted relationships and motifs of the characters. It may be predictable at times, but it is still an incredibly well directed and shot movie with a lot to offer and it is one of the finest noirs out there.