Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the most beautiful star of all?
Could it be a woman so stunning she can make a man fall hopelessly in love with her portrait? Or possibly an actress who — 65 years after her signature role and 30 years after her death — still mesmerizes audiences as Laura Hunt, the heroine of director Otto Preminger’s classic mystery, Laura?
Gene Tierney is perfectly cast as the unattainable Laura, but the film might be as impenetrable as Laura’s veneer were it not for a couple of standout male performances. Dana Andrews is nearly as enigmatic as Tierney in his portrayal of a lovelorn homicide detective, a man who avoids eye contact with the people he interrogates, yet who can’t stop staring at that portrait of an apparently murdered woman. And Clifton Webb, as the sardonic Waldo Lydecker, proves that no Hollywood actor was as adept at the witty putdown.
But the movie belongs to Tierney, the inspiration for both the painting (in reality a touched-up photo) and the memorable title song. Said David Raksin, composer of “Laura”: “When I was working on the score, I kept looking at her all the time. There’s this fabulous creature. You come across something marvelous and it inspires you.” Grade: A
Director: Otto Preminger Cast: Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price, Judith Anderson Release: 1944
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