“I shall never forget the weekend Laura died.”
Laura Hunt is dead. Shot in the face at point blank range. Enter Det. Lt. Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews), who immediately starts to question her friends and acquaintances. Could the culprit be her smarmy fiancé Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price), whose alibi is full of holes? Or perhaps her rich “friend” Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb), who freely admits that he was obsessed with the beautiful woman? One thing is for certain: McPherson will have to work hard to get to the truth, and even when he gets there, he might not believe it.
This was my first experience with this ûber-classic film noir. I have to admit, I thought it was a run of the mill story to begin with. Like an average Columbo episode, we start off with a grizzly murder, a driven detective, and a handful of dubious suspects, all blaming each other, while proclaiming their own innocence. It’s fine, but nothing special.
Still, the three male leads are fun to watch as they circle around each other. Vincent Price always seems like he’s up to no good, Clifton Webb is delicious, playing a man of indeterminable nature, and Dana Andrews is absolutely perfect as the sneaky detective. The beautiful Gene Tierney also makes an impression as Laura in flashbacks, it’s easy to see why all these men will do anything for her, though I didn’t quite buy it, when the detective falls in love with her, based only on seeing her portrait.
Like I said, the first part of the film was fine, but I wasn’t all that impressed. And then the mystery takes an intriguing turn. Cue dam-dam-daaaaam music. It’s hard to say much more than that, in case there are others out there who aren’t familiar with the story. Let me just say this: I went from lying casually on the couch, to sitting up, with eyes wide open and ears perked, like a deer in the forest, and by the end I was screaming advice to the characters on the screen. Whatever happens there in the middle of the film – uh, I wish I could say more about it – it’s worth waiting for.
Audio & Video:
As always, with films this old, everything is relative and it’s impossible to know how it was supposed to look originally. This Blu-ray is a fairly solid presentation, though it seems to lack a bit of contrast. There’s a respectable amount of grain present in the images – as well there should be – but no print damage, and great details in most of the shots.
The mono sound is good and clean.
This Blu-ray features both the theatrical and the extended versions of the film (1:27:06 vs 1:28:09), along with the following extras:
- Commentary by composer Raksin, and film professor Jeanine Basinger
- Commentary by film historian Rudy Behlmer
- Gene Tierney: A Shattered Portrait
- Vincent Price: The Versatile Villain
- Deleted Scene
- Original theatrical trailer
- Vignette: The Obsession
The disc is region free.
It started slow, but once it got going, Laura got very interesting, very fast. The slow start means it won’t quite make it to the all-time film noir list for me, but it’s a wonderful film, definitely worth checking out.
Extra Features: B+