This movie is a masterpiece by Otto Preminger. Beautifully directed and the cast Gene and Dana act really well. It is an excellent movie that challenges you and the twist is something you don't really expect
It's hard to create an absent character, then feature them front-and-center without destroying all that mystery and power. Just look at "Rebecca."
But one exception to this rule is "Laura," a spellbinding film noir about a rough, clever detective and a society girl suspected of being first the victim, then the murderer. Dark atmosphere, red herrings, and a hefty dose of psychology are all part of the mix in one of Hollywood's strangest love triangles.
A young socialite, Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney) has been shot in the face with buckshot. Det. Lt. Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) is sent on the case, investigating Laura's aunt, her gigolo fiancee Shelby (Vincent Price), and her best friend, an acid-tongued gay columnist Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb). No one seems to have a motive for killing Laura -- everyone loved her.
And soon McPherson starts to fall in love with Laura too, with a painting as his guide. Then Laura walks into her apartment, alive and well. Now MacPherson must find out who the dead girl was, and struggles with his jealousy when Laura reunites with her cheating fiancee. But who was the real target -- and what twisted motives do they have?
Few murder mysteries of any kind are as tight and perfectly plotted as "Laura" is, and few noirs have as deep an insight into the human mind -- and just how strange and/or twisted love can become. Not many movies can have a guy who falls in love with a girl through a painting, without making it corny.
The movie is taut, intense and slightly overwhelming, with a twist in the middle that throws out all the previous suspicions. It unwinds slowly throughout the film, with the occasional burst of action (MacPherson punching Shelby), right up to an action-packed finale, full with symbolism... and some seriously twisted motives.
But atmosphere alone isn't enough, and there's also some incredibly haunting cinematography and brilliant dialogue ("I don't use a pen. I write with a goose quill dipped in venom"). When MacPherson interviews Laura's maid, she announces, "I ain't afraid of cops. I was brought up to spit whenever I saw one." His reply? "Okay, go ahead and spit if that'll make you feel better."
Laura's a powerful presence in the first half, and a less talented actress would have wrecked the atmosphere, but Tierney handles it well. Andrews has a crackling Bogart-esque presence here, which makes us like the only honest guy in the movie, and Webb is brilliant as the tart-tongued, frustrated Waldo, who sees Laura as his personal Galatea. And Price has a small but juicy role as a smooth gigolo.
"Laura" is one of the greatest films noir, full of wonderful acting, dark atmosphere and twisted passion. It's nothing short of brilliant.