Sunday, September 2, 2012

R.I.P. Screening II: Laura

Onward in my Vincent Price movie-thon for the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril event!  I spent my rainy afternoon (mirrored by the weather in much of the film) watching the atmospheric classic noir film, Laura.  In this one, Price plays Shelby Carpenter, Laura's shallow, playboy fianc√©.  

Admittedly, Laura (like The Great Mouse Detective) isn't exactly terribly horrific or gothic or supernatural and Price isn't being his usual villainous self.  But he is quite slimy in a genteel, gold-digging kind of way.  He's obviously looking for a meal ticket...and Anne (played by Judith Anderson) knows exactly what kind of piece of work he is and is prepared to take him on.  As she tells Laura...she and Shelby are suited to each other; they're neither of them very nice.  But he's what she wants.

The movie is a classic in misdirection.  First you have a corpse that isn't quite what you think it is.  And a dead woman who may not be quite as dead as you think.  Is the "corpse" really the murderer?  Or has someone else missed their target?  Detective Mark McPherson spends his time interviewing suspects, looking through Laura's letters, and reading her diary in an attempt to understand this woman and who might have wanted to kill her.  He'd like Carpenter to be the villain of the piece, but he's not sure he can make it fit.  

It was very pleasant to curl up on the couch and travel back to 1944 for this wonderful period mystery.  I not only enjoyed Price's smooth playboy, but Dana Andrews (McPherson), Clifton Webb (Waldo Lydecker), and Gene Tierney (Laura) are all perfect in their parts. Andrews as the tough detective; Webb as the rather effete newspaper columnist who feels he has claims upon Laura because of the part he played in starting her career; and Tierney as the mysterious and lovely Laura.  If you haven't seen this classic film, you should--you're in for a treat.

Waldo Lydecker: How singularly innocent I look this morning. 

Lydecker: My dear, either you were born on a extremely rustic community, where good manners are unknown, or you suffer from a common feminine delusion that the mere fact of being a woman exempts you from the rules of civilized conduct.

Lydecker: I don't use a pen. I write with a goose quill dipped in venom. 

Lydecker: In my case, self-absorption is completely justified. I have never discovered any other subject quite so worthy of my attention. 

Lydecker: I'm not kind, I'm vicious. It's the secret of my charm. 

Lydecker: I cannot stand these morons any longer. If you don't come with me this instant I shall run amok.

Shelby Carpenter: I can afford a blemish on my character, but not on my clothes. 

Carpenter: I don't know a lot about anything, but I know a little about practically everything. 

Carpenter: For the last time, Louise, will you marry me? 
Louise (Ann's Cook): No, but I cooked some chicken liver for you.

Mark McPherson: Yeah, dames are always pulling a switch on you. 

McPherson: I must say, for a charming, intelligent girl, you certainly surrounded yourself with a remarkable collection of dopes. 

Laura Hunt: You forced me to give you my word. I never have been and I never will be bound by anything I don't do of my own free will.


Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

A rainy day is just the perfect time for this challenge. Laura sounds fantastic, I'll have to Netflix this one as well.

Carl V. Anderson said...

This is one of Price's films that I haven't seen yet but is on my list.