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Kyle Kersten was a true friend of TCM. One of the first and most active participants of the Message Boards, “Kyle in Hollywood” (aka, hlywdkjk) demonstrated a depth of knowledge and largesse of spirit that made him one of the most popular and respected voices in these forums. This thread is a living memorial to his life and love of movies, which remain with us still.

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Laura (1944)


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47 replies to this topic

#1 kjrwe

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 11:55 PM

Yes, Dall is very effective in ROPE. But my point is that in those days there was an underlying assumption that if you were gay, then it was 'logical' for you to play the villain. Laird Cregar is an example of a gay character actor who was typed in villainous roles, like Webb was in the mid-40s. Eventually Fox reformulated Webb's image, putting him in a series of situation comedies (after the success of SITTING PRETTY) and then he was typecast in variations of the Belvedere character. 

 

At least they were allowed to take on roles in films and they still had more opportunities than most African-American actors.

 

I liked Sidney Poitier's portrayal of a doctor in the 1950 film No Way Out, but in any older film, the black actors were playing either servants, or sidekicks to white people (like Charlie Chan's sidekick in the 1930s and 1940s films), or something along those lines.

 

Interesting that women seemed to have better roles back then than they do in most modern films. Actresses like Barbara Stanwyck and Gene Tierney got parts that modern actresses can only dream about.


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#2 kjrwe

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 11:51 PM

It is my understanding that In the book she is anything but a yuppie and that Waldo first sees her in court where she is charged with a crime and decides to help her.   

 

I read the book several years ago and I think you're right. I seem to recall that she was quite self-conscious in the novel.

 

I don't remember her being charged with any crime, though.



#3 TopBilled

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 08:24 PM

Wasn't John Dall homosexual? He sure did a great job of playing an evil character in Rope

 

Yes, Dall is very effective in ROPE. But my point is that in those days there was an underlying assumption that if you were gay, then it was 'logical' for you to play the villain. Laird Cregar is an example of a gay character actor who was typed in villainous roles, like Webb was in the mid-40s. Eventually Fox reformulated Webb's image, putting him in a series of situation comedies (after the success of SITTING PRETTY) and then he was typecast in variations of the Belvedere character. 


"The truth? What good is the truth if it destroys us all..?" -- Mady Christians in ALL MY SONS (1948).


#4 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 08:16 PM

Maybe not, but she fell in love. This is a classic case of opposites attract: she was a social-climbing yuppie and he was anything BUT that. They complemented each other very nicely!

 

It is my understanding that In the book she is anything but a yuppie and that Waldo first sees her in court where she is charged with a crime and decides to help her.   



#5 kjrwe

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 08:12 PM

That's another Fox noir where he's miscast. In those days they thought homosexuals were evil and thus homosexual actors could convincingly play evil characters. They were wrong.

 

Wasn't John Dall homosexual? He sure did a great job of playing an evil character in Rope, but he played a very good guy in The Man Who Cheated Himself.

 

As for Clifton Webb, I've only seen him in one other film besides Laura: I saw him in one of the 1950s versions of Titanic and he was decent there (although not too memorable).



#6 kjrwe

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 08:02 PM

An interesting point about LAURA - there would be no place in her Yuppie life for a man like Dana Andrews, a cop.

Not in the 1940's, and probably not now, either.

 

 

Maybe not, but she fell in love. This is a classic case of opposites attract: she was a social-climbing yuppie and he was anything BUT that. They complemented each other very nicely!



#7 TopBilled

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 02:48 PM

IMHO, Clifton Webb was never better than in: THE DARK CORNER.

In that, he was also in love with a woman half his age.

 

That's another Fox noir where he's miscast. In those days they thought homosexuals were evil and thus homosexual actors could convincingly play evil characters. They were wrong.


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"The truth? What good is the truth if it destroys us all..?" -- Mady Christians in ALL MY SONS (1948).


#8 papyrusbeetle

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 02:29 PM

An interesting point about LAURA - there would be no place in her Yuppie life for a man like Dana Andrews, a cop.

Not in the 1940's, and probably not now, either.

LAURA also was not all she was made to be by her friends, and Aunt.

We don't really know much about her, except that she was ambitious, and had good taste in décor.

 

IMHO, Clifton Webb was never better than in: THE DARK CORNER.

In that, he was also in love with a woman half his age.


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#9 TopBilled

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Posted 22 February 2017 - 08:56 AM

He needed Laura to move up in the social circle. Without a female partner, his social status was limited in this sort of society. As for being gay, it's possible. Clifton Webb was gay, and maybe Waldo was as well, but in Waldo's case, he was such a narcissist that there's no way he could have had a relationship with anybody. In other words, it didn't matter if he was gay.

 

I think George Sanders played Waldo best-- he portrayed Waldo as a straight man who coveted beautiful women. Sanders did the role in the mid-50s in a truncated version for The 20th Century Fox Hour television series (an hour long minus commercials). And then in 1968 Sanders reprised Waldo in an ABC-TV movie (two hours minus commercials, which would bring it back to its full 90 minutes).

 

In the '68 production Farley Granger played Shelby, and given Granger's own sexuality, I think it makes more sense for Shelby to be bearded by Ann Treadwell. But Waldo shouldn't need Laura to be his beard. He should be magnetic and fairly sexual with her, which explains why she's captivated by him. Ann needs to mother and protect Shelby, but Laura does not need to do that with Waldo.


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"The truth? What good is the truth if it destroys us all..?" -- Mady Christians in ALL MY SONS (1948).


#10 kjrwe

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 11:26 PM

As an obviously gay man, Waldo Lydecker wanted to "possess" Laura Hunt in the sense of being the captain of her life.

 

Only a gay man could say, "I write with a goose quill dripped in venom."

 

He needed Laura to move up in the social circle. Without a female partner, his social status was limited in this sort of society. As for being gay, it's possible. Clifton Webb was gay, and maybe Waldo was as well, but in Waldo's case, he was such a narcissist that there's no way he could have had a relationship with anybody. In other words, it didn't matter if he was gay.



#11 kjrwe

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 11:22 PM

But what makes him so venomous? It's not explained in the film. They're relying heavily on the original stage play, where he's not intended to be homosexual.

 

That's a good point. Laura herself says something like, "You write about people with such feeling and understanding. That's what makes your column so good."

 

Later, Waldo did write a nasty column about Jacoby. Still, I don't know why that would have been printed if he normally wrote nice things about people.

 

Maybe his column varied from nice to nasty, but Laura hadn't seen any of the nasty stuff.



#12 shutoo

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 08:50 PM

I understand that and agree.    But I still say that isn't enough of a reason to drive one to shoot someone in the face with a shotgun.    Typically it takes a sexually motived betrayal. 

 

Waldo thought Laura used her beauty unwisely and didn't deserve it...shooting her in the face was killing her 'beauty', her power.


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#13 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 07:42 PM

As an obviously gay man, Waldo Lydecker wanted to "possess" Laura Hunt in the sense of being the captain of her life.

 

Only a gay man could say, "I write with a goose quill dripped in venom."

 

I understand that and agree.    But I still say that isn't enough of a reason to drive one to shoot someone in the face with a shotgun.    Typically it takes a sexually motived betrayal. 


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#14 kjrwe

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 07:29 PM

 

Anyway, a film of eternal interest.

 

It's a stylish film which I can watch over and over again. The storyline, Waldo's speeches, the clothes, the music - all perfect in my eyes!


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#15 TopBilled

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 06:24 PM

Only a gay man could say, "I write with a goose quill dripped in venom."

 

But what makes him so venomous? It's not explained in the film. They're relying heavily on the original stage play, where he's not intended to be homosexual.


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"The truth? What good is the truth if it destroys us all..?" -- Mady Christians in ALL MY SONS (1948).


#16 rayban

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 05:23 PM

There is an interesting parallel between the two characters in these films in that neither has a sexual relationship with their obsession (a common noir theme BTW).

 

Of course with Hunsecker we are taking about his sister but with Waldo we are taking about a very feminine beauty.  

 

There have been many discussions related to why Waldo would so violently murder someone he didn't have a super strong sexual attraction too.  E.g. we never see Waldo making really strong sexual advances toward Laura.   That is the common reason for this type of murder but just to keep Laura away from another man (Shelby),  when he doesn't wish to sexually have her himself isn't a strong enough motive IMO.

As an obviously gay man, Waldo Lydecker wanted to "possess" Laura Hunt in the sense of being the captain of her life.

 

Only a gay man could say, "I write with a goose quill dripped in venom."


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"I was born the day she kissed me.  I died the day she left me.  I lived a few weeks while she loved me." - Humphrey Bogart in "In A Lonely Place".


#17 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 01:51 PM

Great to hear from YOU, and I just watched this for the zillionth time.

Unfortunately, I soon realized how close WALDO was to the Burt Lancaster character (Hunsecker) in SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS (both Waldo and Burt based on Walter Winchell)

Walter Winchell, of course, was obsessed IRL with his daughter Walda (perhaps what the story referred to---"you are the best part of myself", etc. etc.)

 

Anyway, a film of eternal interest.

 

There is an interesting parallel between the two characters in these films in that neither has a sexual relationship with their obsession (a common noir theme BTW).

 

Of course with Hunsecker we are taking about his sister but with Waldo we are taking about a very feminine beauty.  

 

There have been many discussions related to why Waldo would so violently murder someone he didn't have a super strong sexual attraction too.  E.g. we never see Waldo making really strong sexual advances toward Laura.   That is the common reason for this type of murder but just to keep Laura away from another man (Shelby),  when he doesn't wish to sexually have her himself isn't a strong enough motive IMO.


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#18 papyrusbeetle

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 01:04 PM

Great to hear from YOU, and I just watched this for the zillionth time.

Unfortunately, I soon realized how close WALDO was to the Burt Lancaster character (Hunsecker) in SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS (both Waldo and Burt based on Walter Winchell)

Walter Winchell, of course, was obsessed IRL with his daughter Walda (perhaps what the story referred to---"you are the best part of myself", etc. etc.)

 

Anyway, a film of eternal interest.


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#19 kjrwe

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 02:44 AM

This is definitely one film noir that is one of my favorites. Anyone else think Clifton Webb was remarkable in this?

He was remarkable, as was the rest of the cast. This movie is one of my favorite noirs.


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#20 SleepyDogFilms

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Posted 05 February 2017 - 07:41 PM

It has been suggested that everything that happens after Mark falls asleep is a dream.  Has anyone else considered this?

I never considered it, but I like the idea!


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