Film Review: Laura

Otto Preminger’s Laura deserves its place as a quintessential noir. The 1944 film exudes style and intrigue. Those unfamiliar with the film should definitely aim to catch it during its cinematic re-release.

Police detective Mark McPherson is brought in to investigate the murder of Laura Hunt, a beautiful young advertising executive. As he identifies suspects, McPherson begins to fall in love with the victim. The detective questions Laura’s fiance, aunt and long-time friend in order to solve the case…

Laura offers everything you could want from a classic film noir. The central themes of crime and betrayal loom large over proceedings. The narrative works exceptionally well, and is suitably paced over the 88-minute running time. Beginning with a mysterious murder, Preminger teases his audience by revealing details little by little.

The fantastic script is central to the film’s long-lasting appeal. There is a great deal of wit, thanks to the amusing dialogue between McPherson and Waldo Lydecker. Lydecker is a fantastic character himself, one of the most memorable from the genre. Elsewhere, the ambiguity over who to trust is unyielding. Viewers are posited in the same position as McPherson; trying to ascertain the truth whilst being entranced by the beautiful Laura.

Styling in Laura is great, with the Manhattan life of the victim depicted with the requisite glamour. Cinematography and lighting are also superb, offering the contrasts and shadows that noir is famed for. The climax of the film is particularly well executed, as is a pivotal scene half way through the movie.

Dana Andrews is solid as Detective McPherson. Clifton Webb often steals the scene with is superlative portrayal of Waldo Lydecker. Vincent Price provides great support in an early role. Gene Tierney is stunning as Laura Hunt. In the flashback sequences, it is easy to see why the character had such an affect on others.

With a fine print that masks the age of the film, Laura is recommended to both fans of Preminger’s film and those looking to see superb filmmaking on the big screen.

Laura is released at the BFI Southbank from 24th February 2012, as well as selected cinemas across the UK.