Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose of Darkness #5: Soaking in Noir (The Opening Scene of Laura)

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Please use this topic to post your comments and discussions of the clip from Daily Dose of Darkness #5: the Opening Scene of Laura. FYI...this Daily Dose won't be delivered till Monday morning, June 8. I put this topic up early to eliminate the need for students to start this topic. Be patient, your Daily Dose will arrive shortly!

 

Thanks! Prof. Edwards

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This opening reminds me of the opening to Hitchcock's "Rebecca" Almost by detail. This time its Laura's Husband telling the tail and not the new DeWinter from "Rebecca"  I was always told to view this movie that i would like it, I think both Rebecca and Laura have something in common they both have portraits of these women on the wall.  Looking forward to it.

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I have been meaning to see this film for a long time. The scene that I saw is the only one I have seen about the movie. I didn't particularly care how Waldo Lydecker was introduced. I like the shot of the camera spanning the room with the big clock.

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The introduction of Waldo Lydecker in this scene is very intriguing. The scene starts with him narrating what happens Laura is murdered as the camera scans through his extensive collection of priceless belongings. The detective looks like one out of a 1930s gangster film. When we are actually introduced to Mr. Lydecker he is in a fancy bathtub with a typewriter and papers. He is a very interesting character at this point.

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The opening scene shows us a key component of the film's story: the clock. Not only do we pan by it, but the Lt. returns to it, studies it briefly, and then is soon summoned by Lydecker. The clock(s), Lydecker's and Laura's, factor greatly into the storyline, but we don't know that yet. Waldo's terse and precision dialogue is perfectly matched by McPherson's cocky, and rather comic directness. "Why'd you write it down? Were you afraid you'd forget?" (smirk) We are introduced to lavish decor (the film's basic backdrop throughout), as well as the personalities of the major characters of the story, the stars of the film. The opening scene of Laura is compelling and seductive. In 5 minutes, we've been 'caught' watching what we know to be a storyline well worth following.

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This opening reminds me of the opening to Hitchcock's "Rebecca" Almost by detail. This time its Laura's Husband telling the tail and not the new DeWinter from "Rebecca"  I was always told to view this movie that i would like it, I think both Rebecca and Laura have something in common they both have portraits of these women on the wall.  Looking forward to it.

Lydecker is not Laura's husband. He only dreams he is.

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The opening scene shows us a key component of the film's story: the clock. Not only do we pan by it, but the Lt. returns to it, studies it briefly, and then is soon summoned by Lydecker. The clock(s), Lydecker's and Laura's, factor greatly into the storyline, but we don't know that yet. Waldo's terse and precision dialogue is perfectly matched by McPherson's cocky, and rather comic directness. "Why'd you write it down? Were you afraid you'd forget?" (smirk) We are introduced to lavish decor (the film's basic backdrop throughout), as well as the personalities of the major characters of the story, the stars of the film. The opening scene of Laura is compelling and seductive. In 5 minutes, we've been 'caught' watching what we know to be a storyline well worth following.

 

You are right. I don't know why but I am interested and intrigued enough by the opening to want to see more of this film.

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Notice the music begins as we see the clock. The music and sounds of the clock continue to grow and swell, especially so after we're brought back to focus on the clock, until they suddenly stop as Lydecker shouts at the detective to put down the object in the glass case.

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 The words "I shall never forget the weekend that Laura died" is such a memorable quote, one that really sets the story. We are about to unravel a convoluted story that no one saw coming. Lydecker's house is so lavish, with priceless pieces and grand artwork,and the clock that we keep coming to is going to be a key to unlocking the story. We can tell that Laura had a taste for the expensive just by being in Lydecker's house and he and Laura being the only two who had a clock like that one. McPhearson is an intriguing character, we are captivated by the way he seems to know things yet doesn't show his cards, and his cocky attitude just makes things a little bit juicer.

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Laura - yes, let's the audience know up front Laura has died horribly.  Teaches the audience also, like Hitchcock, to get to the movie on time so you don't miss the important beginning.

I like voice overs - or maybe I expect them in crime/mystery dramas -  Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer et al.   I'm trying to find this film to see it again, since it has been decades.

 

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During the opening scene of "Laura" we are given a great deal of information about Waldo Lydecker. His voice over tells of his close relationship with Laura. As the camera spans the room we see he is wealthy, successful, and importantly, a collector. We know he is protective of what he owns by his admonishment of McPherson when he picks up one of his collectables. When Waldo and McPherson have their initial meeting we can see the men are opposites, not just physically, but how they communicate. Waldo can turn a phrase whereas McPherson is terse. One of my favorite films.

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I liked the opening scene the over voice sets the movie up for a mystery. When Waldo is first introduced sitting in a bathtub in front a complete stranger I thought this is a man who has nothing to hide or everything to hide.

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The opening and introduction to Waldo Lydecker is very peculiar. In the narration, he seems to reveal more about himself than he intends with his presumptions ("I was the only person that really knew Laura") and his contemptuous view of the detective. His apartment is full of ornate furnishings, including the clock that will play an important role throughout the film. 

 

When we finally see him in person, he is in his tub with a tray and some reading materials. As he is being interviewed by the detective, he pulls out a sheet that describes where he was the night Laura was murdered. This immediately makes the character suspect, and even the detective wonders aloud if he uses it to keep his "story" straight. Even his defense of being the "most misquoted man in America" is suspect. 

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I think it is intriguing that Waldo is studying the detective as much as the detective is studying him.  I feel that being in the bathtub is his way of trying to portray innocence as in naked and nothing to hide.  I can't wait to watch the rest of the film.

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I've watched this film many times but now I'm struck by how much was adapted from M, a film I'd never watched in its entirety til this weekend. I especially noted the ticking clock (grandfather clock in Laura/cukoo in M), the contrast between the banal (bath in Laura/dishwashing & general house work in M) combined with the deep sense of foreboding. The opening of Laura is gorgeously detailed, and not with gritty cityscapes, but with the lush apartment of an almost precious, certainly elitist columnist (we learn the latter from his self description). So unlike M, La Bete Humaine, and many other films I watched on TCM last week, the opening of Laura shows that noir doesn't discriminate on the basis of class or economic status.

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That opening does indeed show Lydecker as an arrogant, entitled, and upper-class person. He orders the detective around without compunction. Not to reduce the critique to a Marxist viewpoint: the villains in these are indeed flawed from the start, like in Chandler's novels. Gotta love those antique glassware pieces. Are they Roman?

 

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The opening scene of Laura is a voiceover POV where we are introduced to Waldo Lydecker who has an ego as big as the moon. Why else would he say he knew Laura better than anyone or appear in a bathtub to a total stranger. His lavish surroundings and unabashed nakedness seem to boast that he is better than everyone else.

 

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Watching the opening to Laura, I could definitely see the similarities that it had with M in the understanding that the aesthetics of the film were closely documented. Rather though, what made this one stand on its own is that it seemed like the opening to a Sherlock Holmes film! Overall, the film seems to be an outright character study during the opening scenes, that of which is enhanced by the narrative and the "soft" opening of discussion that introduces us to the plot and characters.

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The panning shots of Lydecker's apartment--really a first-person POV of Lydecker himself from the tub in the adjoining room, gives us a lot of information about him.  The objects in his apartment that he focuses on as he talks then stand out as ultra-important in allowing us to understand him.  If you've seen the film before and know the importance of the clock, then you understand that Lydecker's focus on McPherson's interest in it is foreshadowing.  Also, you can hear David Raksin's incredible "Laura" theme best at this point, which helps us connect the clock with her, as Lydecker tells us that the only other one in existence is in her apartment--stands in the very room in which she was murdered.  

 

Connecting objects with personalities--allowing objects to provide some "silent" exposition of characters is a modernist move--James Joyce did it, Virginia Woolf did it, as did others.  Preminger effectively adopts this strategy in this film, because it works so well in adding to the menacing undertone of the film and its characterization of Lydecker himself.

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"I shall never forget the weekend Laura died." Great opening- just the voiceover with a black screen. Opens with a punch, doesn't it? Then the camera has a love affair with opulence- showing us expensive and beautiful objects, especially that clock with the pendulum swinging and gentle bells tolling. There is a sense of beauty and of violence in the scene- we know there was a murder but only see his collection of fine things- almost as if Laura had been one of them.

     The detective is introduced as a kind of voyeur- looking around at the objects, obviously not part of his normal world. I love his reaction to those weird masks on the wall- maybe a prescient view of all the characters that will follow.

And Lydecker in the bathtub- how great a way to introduce him- a quirky but brilliant character. His voiceover in the beginning is so well crafted. Yet in spite of the lavish way in which he lives, it becomes clear that he is fascinated by things much more gritty- the "detective with the silver shinbone", murders, etc.

As you might guess- one of my favorite movies- I have seen it too many times!

 

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I love how Lydecker shows his contempt of "detectives" by keeping McPherson waiting while he watches him from his bath, but how McPherson goads him into cutting to the chase by opening his cabinet of expensive knick-knacks and handling one of them.

 

Also interesting is how Lydecker complains about being "widely misquoted" (implying a desire for facts), then moments later dismisses having misreported the means of the death of Harrington, since his (factually incorrect) version was "superior," and that he never bothers with "details."

 

Dana Andrews has always been a favorite; he's not well-known today, but he always brought an intelligent, brooding intensity to most everything he did. I'm looking forward to watching this movie again. It's been too long.

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Love Laura!  If you've never seen it, put this one at the top of your research for this course!  And I'm enjoying these "Daily Doses"!  

From his first word, before we see anything on the screen, Lydecker's egocentricism is apparent.  He uses a more formal vocabulary and a highbrow, disinterested tone.  He loves the sound of his voice, and his thoughts are obviously (to him) so superior to anyone else's that common vernacular will not convey them.  

Preminger uses the apartment to show us more of Waldo's persona.  As we see his environment, he is obviously fascinated with "the best things in life" -- because he, and he alone, deserves them!  From the first shot, we are shown an apartment that is overdone -- over-embellished furnishings, picture frames, and glassware.  His valued treasures include seemingly inhuman faces (masks) on the wall and the face of a clock.  The clock receives special mention from Lydecker; it connects him to the only person besides himself that he mentions in his preamble:  Laura.  He presumes to be the expert on Laura - no one "really knew her" except himself.  

 

In first speaking to the detective, we see Waldo's self-absorption.  He's in the bath, caring for his supreme self.  He starts by reading his comments to the detective, showing how superiority to the common cop through his monotone delivery.  He can't waste fresh ideas on this guy.  The first spark of interest in something outside of himself is when Waldo realizes that the cop is someone he has previously featured on his radio program.  Not interest for an interesting subject, but interest for the sake of ratings.  

 

Preminger has set up Lydecker as a narcissist of the highest degree.  Every time I watch this film, Waldo makes every scene he's in seem filthy and perverted.  Makes me want to shower to remove the slime.  Hmm ... interesting that he starts out in a bath.   ;)

 


 

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The opening scene of Laura introduces us, among other things, to one of the most colourful, cynical and sophisticated characters in film noir, Wyldo Lydecker. Noir characters are rarely sophisticated and full of style, as Lydecker is, and settings are usually unremarkable,cheap apartments, diners and nightclubs.

 

Here, however, we can see how sophisticated Lydecker is by the precious, cultural items his house is full of, the big clock (which is a very important key to the solution of the murder, for anyone having watched the whole film) having its unique place among them.

 

When finally introduced to Lydecker's character, we see a very smart and cunning guy, with very high ego and certainly not at all sympathetic. The detective, on the other hand, seems suspicious of him and his infinite self-confidence, though he is not able to question him as any ordinary suspect.

 

This opening scene is just an introduction of what is about to follow: a stylish noir full of different and unique characters and their somewhat strange motives, and with so many twists you just can't believe them. A high-class opening to a genuine masterpiece.

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I've watched this film many times but now I'm struck by how much was adapted from M, a film I'd never watched in its entirety til this weekend. I especially noted the ticking clock (grandfather clock in Laura/cukoo in M), the contrast between the banal (bath in Laura/dishwashing & general house work in M) combined with the deep sense of foreboding. The opening of Laura is gorgeously detailed, and not with gritty cityscapes, but with the lush apartment of an almost precious, certainly elitist columnist (we learn the latter from his self description). So unlike M, La Bete Humaine, and many other films I watched on TCM last week, the opening of Laura shows that noir doesn't discriminate on the basis of class or economic status.

Yes.  A high tone mise en scene of "furnishings and faces" where the wall of faces are masks.

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