Laura (Otto Preminger, 1944)

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Mr Sausage
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Laura (Otto Preminger, 1944)

#1 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Jun 21, 2021 11:59 pm

DISCUSSION ENDS MONDAY, July 5th

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Laura (Otto Preminger, 1944)

#2 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Jun 22, 2021 12:00 am

The runner up of the Preminger Auteur List Project is our film this round. (The winner of that list has already been done).

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domino harvey
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Re: Laura (Otto Preminger, 1944)

#3 Post by domino harvey » Wed Jun 23, 2021 2:48 pm

Let's at least goose some discussion by showering Clifton Webb with appreciation, as it is thanks to this film and Preminger's insistence against Fox execs who didn't want to hire the actor that he had such an unusually successful late period film career (and garnered his first of three Oscar noms). I know due to the Going My Way double nominations that Barry Fitzgerald was predestined to win the Oscar over Webb here, but like the film it won for it's a win that doesn't hold up at all-- Webb absolutely walks away with this film. Everyone may be obsessed with Laura in the world of the movie, but it's the dialogue and delivery of Waldo Lydecker that sticks in the memory of the audience. I thought the TV remake with George Sanders in the role was a game attempt to cast the only other scene stealing effete elite Hollywood star who could possibly pull this role off, but you really can't top Webb here. Also, how bizarre that he'd go on to inhabit more than one on-screen roles as a family-friendly patriarch, including the rather absurd depiction he's given in the Remarkable Mr Pennypacker as a virile sex god and head of multiple households!

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Re: Laura (Otto Preminger, 1944)

#4 Post by Bressonaire » Wed Jun 30, 2021 10:42 am

One of my fondest recollections/discoveries is a moment when Dana Andrews meets Waldo soaking in the bathtub. That downward glance Andrews gives at (presumably) Waldo's equipment is one of the supremely clever ways that studios undermined the Hays code. The code really did foster some inventive work-arounds.

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Sloper
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Re: Laura (Otto Preminger, 1944)

#5 Post by Sloper » Fri Jul 02, 2021 12:16 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Wed Jun 23, 2021 2:48 pm
I thought the TV remake with George Sanders in the role was a game attempt to cast the only other scene stealing effete elite Hollywood star who could possibly pull this role off, but you really can't top Webb here.
I haven't seen that version, but much as I like George Sanders I can’t imagine him being anywhere near as effective in this role. Webb is so much more than just debonair and sarcastic: he has a scary, bug-eyed intensity, and a painful vulnerability, that make you believe he could be a murderer even though the script doesn’t give him much of a motive (in my opinion).

One of the best scenes is when he’s poisoning Laura against Shelby, and he sits in his chair with his arms poised at his sides, staring ahead and occasionally darting nervous glances at Laura to see how she’s reacting (reminds me of Joe Gillis describing Norma Desmond, ‘coiled like a watch-spring’). It’s genuinely unsettling to watch how he breaks Laura down here: that climactic moment when she winces and slams the phone down is like something out of Gaslight. Superficially, Waldo is calm and controlled – but you can sense the abyss of pain and madness simmering behind his eyes.

I feel like this applies to Laura as a whole. On one level it’s kind of a boring, half-baked murder mystery, but it’s the undercurrents of psychological distress and necrophilia that make it interesting. Most mysteries play on the idea that ‘anyone could be a murderer’, but here it feels like that concept is being taken to another level, where everyone is genuinely sick and twisted, and ‘might as well be a murderer’ (Judith Anderson’s confrontation with Tierney is a key moment for this, obviously).

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FrauBlucher
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Re: Laura (Otto Preminger, 1944)

#6 Post by FrauBlucher » Fri Jul 02, 2021 5:01 pm

Sloper wrote:
Fri Jul 02, 2021 12:16 pm
domino harvey wrote:
Wed Jun 23, 2021 2:48 pm
I thought the TV remake with George Sanders in the role was a game attempt to cast the only other scene stealing effete elite Hollywood star who could possibly pull this role off, but you really can't top Webb here.
I haven't seen that version, but much as I like George Sanders I can’t imagine him being anywhere near as effective in this role. Webb is so much more than just debonair and sarcastic: he has a scary, bug-eyed intensity, and a painful vulnerability, that make you believe he could be a murderer even though the script doesn’t give him much of a motive (in my opinion).
Agree and the other issue for me would be that George Sanders and Vincent Price are too similar in style

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knives
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Re: Laura (Otto Preminger, 1944)

#7 Post by knives » Fri Jul 02, 2021 5:55 pm

I think Price had too big a desire to be loved to really fit a Sanders comparison albeit with them definitely having many similarities. Witchfinder General aside Price always seems to want to be understood. Sanders couldn’t care less. That’s probably why Price seemed to prioritize being a lead while Sanders was fine being a character.

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domino harvey
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Re: Laura (Otto Preminger, 1944)

#8 Post by domino harvey » Fri Jul 02, 2021 8:19 pm

Scott Forbes played Shelby in the 1955 version btw

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