Netflix This: Laura
By Eva Medoff, May 28th, 2010
Film noir is a term that’s tossed around a lot. Several recent movies have been championed as the return of the genre, but with the exception of Joseph Gordon Levitt’s brilliant high school caper Brick, we haven’t seen anything to touch the likes of Chinatown or The Big Sleep. One sometimes overlooked addition to the field is the 1944 film Laura. Directed by Otto Preminger and starring two similarly overlooked actors, Dana Andrews (a leading man also known for the excellent post-war film The Best Years of Our Lives who lost most of his career to alcoholism) and Gene Tierney (a classic beauty along the lines of Ingrid Bergman who lost most of her career to mental illness) the movie is an excellent example of the plot twists, intrigue and intense emotions of film noir.
Clifton Webb plays a cranky magazine writer and radio contributor with the kind of eccentric name you only find in old movies: Waldo Lydecker. Lydecker decides to help Andrews’ detective Mark McPherson in solving the murder of the beautiful Laura hunt, shockingly, for those days, a high-power career woman in advertising. Laura was beloved by everyone, including Lydecker, making him, her supposed fiance and even her aunt suspects (we’re introduced to Laura through flashbacks). As Mark gets further and further into the case, he’s haunted by Laura’s beauty himself. As always, things aren’t what they seem.
We can’t go much further without giving things away, so we’ll stop here. If you’re looking for a truly entertaining film, one that smolders, shocks and occasionally scares, this film is for you. (The fashion’s nothing to scoff at, either.) Intelligence, action and mystery? It’s called film noir.