Dana Andrews Blogathon: My Eternal Love For Laura
I first saw Laura about two years ago during the inaugural Noirvember in 2010 (which later led to the creation of the filmnoirandfemmefatales as run by salesonfilm and myself). I loved it when I first saw it, but I watched so many films after it (2010 was the year I watched 517 new-to-me films, followed by 1117 in 2011) that it kind of got lost in the ether.
However, last fall MiDNiTES FOR MANiACS did a triple feature consisting of Laura, the Twin Peaks pilot and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me at the Roxie Theatre, which gave me a chance to revisit the film and I fell in love all over again. A few months later, I got the chance to see Laura on the big screen at the Castro Theatre, not once – but twice!, thanks to Noir City X.
I must say, seeing Laura on the big screen twice in one day was maybe the best decision I have ever made. See, I went to see Laura first, followed by another film based on a novel by Vera Caspary called Bedelia, after which they were showing Laura again. I had planned to go home, but this second screening of Laura was to be introduced by Andrews’s daughter Susan. Obviously, I could not leave without hearing what she had to say. Then I just got sucked into the film. I thought I wrote down notes or recorded what Susan said, but after checking my recorder and finding nothing and a frantic look through all of my notebooks just now, I realize that did not happen. For the life of me I can’t remember a single thing she said about this film. I do, however, vaguely recall that she mentioned this performance being one of her father’s favorites and that it was a very different performance than most cops of the time. The more I watch this film, the more I agree with that assessment.
His performance seems so modern and so out of place in a film from 1944. But I think that is part of why this film has aged so well. The reason Jesse Hawthorne Ficks paired this film with Twin Peaks, is that it was one of David Lynch’s inspirations (the portrait, the diary, etc. etc.) and also that Andrews’s Detective Mark McPherson was a huge influence on the creation of Special Agent Dale Cooper, but also on Kyle McLaughlin’s performance as well.
I definitely recommend this film to anyone who is a fan of Lynch’s twisted Twin Peaks world. While nothing can match the eccentricities of the characters that inhabit that world, those whom you find in the world of Laura are pretty bizarre themselves. I’m willing to bet even those people who think they don’t like classic Hollywood (I don’t want to know you if that’s the case, but I know these people exist), will enjoy this film.
Having now seen it three times on the big screen, I got myself a copy of it for my birthday last month and did a much-needed at-home rewatching. This is a film that gets better every time you watch it and every time you watch it, more and more layers of its genius get exposed. I think this is a film whose impact on Hollywood has been sorely overlooked and I hope it will gain in its prestige as the years pass and more people discover just how brilliant it really is.
Check out all of the posts for the Dana Andrews Blogathon here.
Posted on July 27, 2012, in Classic Film and tagged Clifton Webb, Dana Andrews, David Lynch, Gene Tierney, Laura, Otto Preminger, Twin Peaks, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, Vera Caspary. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.
The movie I was named after.
I have probably watched Laura a dozen times, and its appeal never wears out, and I always notice something new. I remember when I spoke at a Dana Andrews film festival on the Sam Houston State University campus (where Dana went to college) and watched Laura with an audience, I realized how funny parts of the film were. I already knew that in some sense, but hearing a live audience crystallized that for me. Now seeing the film still on this site–the one with Clifton Webb in the trench coat made me think that in many ways he is shadowing Mark McPherson. Webb (Lydecker) acts as though he is the detective. Has anyone commented before on how unorthodox it is for Mark to allow Lydecker to tag along for one of the interrogations? The films can only get away with that because McPherson is making a study of Lydecker, although Lydecker doesn’t seem to realize it because he keeps underestimating Mark.
Great post! This is absolutely one of my favorite films of all-time. I first sought it out because of the Twin Peaks connection. (Almost) nothing fazes Mark McPherson or Dale Cooper and their minds are always working in overdrive.
Marya, so sorry it took me this long to comment. Thanks for taking part in the blogathon and for doing such a good job here. Liked your comparison with Twin Peaks. Never thought of Laura as an influence on that show, but it’s so obvious now. Like just about everyone involved with the blogathon, we never seem to tire of repeated viewings of Laura. Thanks again!
This is such a lovely, complicated movie and it will always be one of my favorites.
How lucky to see “Laura” on the big screen, not once but twice! Thanks for a fun post.
Interesting points about McPherson. The Laura links are obvious but I had never really thought about the detectives the same way, perhaps because Andrews plays a character more aloof than Cooper – but yes, their canny perceptions, bemusement at the strange characters surrounding them, and cool handle on the whole situation (as well as the unusual link they have with the victim, handled differently in the two works of course) draw them together.
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