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


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I am really enjoying reading the comments and they have expanded my understanding; thank you all! My comment is about Detective McPherson:

 

The introduction of Det. McPherson wandering around the living area of this apartment, analyzing objects most suited to a museum - under Lydecker's hidden gaze - at first makes him appear only curious, and possibly intelligent. As the scene progresses, one's respect for McPherson grows. Like someone schooled in martial arts, he allows his suspect to reveal himself. In just a few minutes, he knows that Lydecker has a superior opinion of himself, is crafty, self-protective, and has a need to be in control. The detective chooses to accept the role of man servant with bemusement instead of indignation. He reveals little about himself, and one allows for the possibility that he may become a superior adversary to Lydecker, who may become his enemy. 

I think that Dana Andrews was a perfect McPherson. I think of his other roles in film during the '40's. There is always some sort of underlying cynicism to each of his characters, in varying degrees to fit the roles. The sarcastic humor that allows him to observe and review the reaction of the other characters to his observations fits well with his abilities to size up each character in order to come to a conclusion about the killer. Lydecker is perfectly crafted by Clifton Webb who ikewise seems to contain a certain amount of this persona in each of many other roles. Sometimes, however, during the movie ( and especially as years have passed)I feel as if the conversations bewteen the 4 main characters (Shelby Carpenter, Vincent Price) are a little stilted and somewhat contrived for our benefit and the movement of the story line. Don't get me wrong, Laura was my first and most favorite movie of this genre from about age 9. My more refined adult ear for dialog is seeking perfection, I guess. Still a good vacation movie. turn off the lights in the condo!

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This is one of my favorite movies and I love the chance to break it down. 

It is wonderful that the opening line happens in darkness. It sets up the murder before we've even seen a piece of film.  Then there is the slow pan across the apartment, at first you may think it is Laura's apartment, until Lydecker states it as his own.  There is the slow pan, seeing the knick-knacks, the clock that ticks away and is the only item on the screen at one point.  The apartment is stylish and well-appointed it.  It shows someone who is concerned with appearances and being surrounded by the finer things in life.  The narration continues while we look at all the things in Lydecker's apartment and we are once again drawn to the clock while it chimes.  The whole narration tells us about Laura's death, the reason for the man in the apartment and the fact that Lydecker some how "owns" Laura, or has a very personal connection with her.

Lydecker calls MacPherson into the bathroom.  We follow him and it is at this point that the camera swipes to Lydecker in the tub, almost as if we and MacPherson are surprised to find the speaker/narrator naked in the tub.  I've seen this scene as homosexual, but also as Lydecker showing the one to be in control.  It is as if he feels he is above convention and could careless what a "gum shoe," thinks of him... although you can see the actor's swim trunks just above the water line.  MacPherson's smirk seems to say, "whatever," as if he gets that Lydecker is trying to shock him, or control the situation and he really could care less what this man is trying to do.  It also sets up the relationship Lydecker and MacPherson will have throughout the movie, as well as giving us a bit of backstory on the heroics of MacPherson as a veteran and a "wounded" or "hardened" soul.

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I have seen Laura a bunch of times... It´s a film that is much enjoyed by its atmosphere and character, by its leitmotif musical...-is a classic "noir"? I don´t know, there are many elements of noir. Especially in the psychology of the characters... And after all, the uncertainty that the protagonists, found passions, live and questions facing us to us to analyze this film, are not a "noir" element?

 It is difficult to comment on a movie that I have seen without the end, but I will try to do so, because from what I see, many of the participants have not seen this film.  In the beginning itself, the idea of Preminger is to introduce us to the characters, and the panning of the camera by that "Museum" tells us much about Linneker; and the attitude of McPherson before what you see, and then to W.L. is perhaps that the common man, which we would have would be so we can talk about a shared point of view, of empathy between us and him. 

The allusion to the clock, shows it us as important to the plot. Will it be a Mc Guffin Hitchcock-style? Finally, one should say that the novel by Vera Caspary, which was a best seller at that time,- and it is presumed that many of those who saw the film at its premiere already knew the novel begins with the story of Linneker, and continues with the story of the other protagonists, Preminger respected literary structure and masterfully translated it into an exceptional film

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Q: What examples do you see that fit with Nino Frank's contention that Laura is a "charming character study of furnishings and faces?"

A: The opening focuses on the luxurious NY City apartment of Waldo Lydecker, which is filled with interesting furnishings and faces, including a wall of African masks and other artifacts. The detective, Mark McPherson is handsome and well dressed. Lydecker's bathroom is like his apartment, "lavish," with details like monogrammed towels and a bathtub desk for his typewriter. Lydecker also gives us some background on McPherson and his exploits in a case, Waldo calls the "Siege of Babylon" on Long Island. We find out that McPherson has a shin "full of lead."

 

Q: What do you think about how Preminger introduces the character of Waldo Lydecker in this scene?

A: We're "introduced" to Waldo Lydecker at first through the narration that opens the movie. Then we realize that he's watching detective McPherson from his bathroom. He observes McPherson surveying his apartment and the objects of art he has on display on the walls and in showcases. When McPherson opens one of the display cases and touches one of the objects, Lydecker speaks. He tells McPherson to be careful because those objects are priceless. It gives us a little glimpse into his character and what is important to him. We finally see Lydecker soaking in a tub with a built-in desk for his typewriter. The way that he comfortably holds court from his bathtub, we get another glimpse into the character of Lydecker. He's used to the finer things in life for sure.

 

Q: In what ways can the opening of Laura be considered as an important contribution to the film noir style?

A: The voice over narration is an important contribution to the film noir style. The narration is combined with the tour of Lydecker's apartment and our first glimpse of McPherson, which sets the tone for the film and gives us an idea of who the major players are and that the plot hinges on a murder. After all what is film noir without a murder?

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Laura is one of my favorite noir movies. I especially like the opening scene which is shot looking through the glass cases which in actuality describes the character of Waldo Liedecker. Furthermore,the emphasis which was placed on the clock and the ticking of the clock adds a certain ambience to the scene.

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So true! The fact that the first things we see are Waldo's prized, clearly expensive and elegant acquisitions as he intones, "I shall never forget the weekend Laura died," tells us a lot about him as a person:  that he is an aesthete who prizes the material and appearances and that his most important feature is his way with words. This sets him up in contrast with the Detective McPherson, who is a more stereotypically masculine detective (all through Waldo's words about his deeds as well). This isn't even getting into the contrast presented by a more stoic and dressed up Detective McPherson with the naked and verbose Waldo in the tub. 

 

*spoilers*

 

Something I'd like to explore, as I have seen the film, is how others take Waldo's (ultimately murderous) obsession with Laura squares with how powerfully Waldo codes as gay. I never bought him as being really that romantically/sexually interested in Laura, but I don't think it's just aesthetic either. I suppose it might have to do with the Svengali nature of his relationship to her? That he essentially turned this naive girl into a powerful, glamorous woman (or so he thinks?).

Yes, it's a wonderful, rhythmic opening line beautifully delivered by Webb (great technician)  and I was suddenly reminded of "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again", the opening line from "Rebecca", also heavily rhythmic.

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One large shift from the films of the 30’s to the 40’s is the depiction of class. In the 30’s, those hardest hit by the depression aspired to be wealthy, but in the 40’s the working class had contempt for the excesses of the rich. Here we see the clearly smug, self-centered, materialistic Waldo Lydecker trading barbs with the straight-talking veteran detective, Mark McPherson. The detective isn’t impressed, but the two are worthy adversaries. Lydecker has the upper hand in terms of intellect, connections and wealth, McPherson has earnest street smarts and authority on his side. Contrast is one of the most essential elements of noir and watching an evenly matched battle between contrasting elements is one of noir’s best qualities. This is particularly true of noir’s hallmark witty repartee. Of course another characteristic of noir “dialogue” is the musing voice-over, which is also used to great effect here. In fact, the dialogue is so specific and clever in the opening moments of “Laura” that the downloading of massive exposition is made painless.

I am glad you brought up the differences in job classifications and social placement. for years I have been doing mental math about Laura's entry and then subsequent success in the design field. I know things might have been different in the 40's, but first, she was a woman trying to enter the field. Maybe because of the year the movie was made, or when Vera Caspary wrote the book, ladies were able to jump into job opportunities because most of the men were in the military fighting the War. But then, from all that I can surmise, she seems to be about 17 (!!!) as she tries to make her first inroads, and then with the "right contacts," transforms into a successful top designer of imagery for advertising, quick as a bunny! Wait! When did she have time to learn keyline and paste up or was she just able to jump over these lower job tasks? Shall we take her to be the precursor of Peggy and Joan of Mad Men, but without the late nights and client rejections?

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Nino Frank’s case for including “Laura” as a film noir, along with “Double Indemnity”, “The Maltese Falcon” and “Murder My Sweet”, makes sense to me.

 

The opening scene is engaging. It begins with a first person narration as Waldo Lydecker (played by Clifton Webb) remembers poetic characteristics of the weekend in which Laura Hunt (to be played by Gene Tierney) met her demise.

 

Lydecker: “I shall never forget the weekend Laura died… a silver sun burned through the sky like a huge magnifying glass…” Well, we’ll soon know that Waldo Lydecker is, after all, a writer."

 

Lydecker:“…It was the hottest Sunday in my recollection. I felt as if I were the only human being left in New York. For with Laura's horrible death, I was alone. I, Waldo Lydecker... was the only one who really knew her...”

 

With that claim, we can at least buy into, whether Lydecker is a reliable narrator or not, that he believed that he was the only one who knew her, and, in his mind had a very special relationship with her. This is probably solipsistic thinking and therefore a probable character flaw of Lydecker, and for film noir it is a fitting character trait.  At least he sounds like he could be a possessive character… possessive about Laura.

 

This first person narration is something in his article that Nino Frank zeroed in on: “…there is another, purely formal, change in expository style, the intervention of a narrator or commentator permits a fragmentation of the narrative, to quickly gloss over the traditional plot elements and to accentuate the ‘true-to-life’ side” (Film Noir Reader2 Alain Silver, James Ursini, eds. page 18) as de rigueur to the new style (genre, movement ??).

 

The apartment is furnished lavishly, which describes something about the owner’s personality I suppose. The owner could be fastidious, quirky, cultured among other traits. Those apartment appointments together with the precise diction of Clifton Webb’s Lydecker make a compelling impression of this man who, according to Nino Frank (in his seminal article on film noir in L’écran français in August 1946-Film Noir Reader2 Alain Silver, James Ursini, eds. page 18), is “a perverse writer who is prosaic but amusing”.

 

As the narrator’s thoughts are spoken there is a slow moving camera bringing us through his apartment almost as though Lydecker is at our side to guide us to a place to sit and be fascinated by what he has to tell us. His tone is somber. If we have any humanity at all :), we will listen. We may very well be distracted by the unusual and exotic furnishings as we see the detective (played by Dana Andrews) is, who seems to find them amusing when he displays a “knowing” smile.

 

Oh, and don’t forget that clock.

 

Lydecker: “I noted that his attention was fixed upon my clock.  There was only one other in existence... and that was in Laura's apartment... in the very room where she was murdered."

 

Lydecker invites the detective into a room where he is taking a bath.

 

Mark McPherson: “Nice little place you have here, Mr. Lydecker.”

 

Waldo Lydecker: “It's lavish, but I call it home.”

 

The whodunit aspect of this noir story is crystalized in the further dialog between Lydecker and McPherson as the detective apparently considers Lydecker as a possible suspect, or at least to rule him out as such.

 

It is well to interject here that for film noir, the main narrative focus is not necessarily on the obstacles the film has (many possible suspects, misleading clues, etc) in obfuscating who the murder is and the subsequent explications as to how the case was solved at the end, as Nino Frank alludes to in his article, but rather focusing in on a protagonist such as a private detective and how he behaves. Though Frank believes that Laura was of the old style of the crime novel or film, “…but Otto Preminger and his collaborators forced themselves to renew the (old -- DB) formula by introducing a charming study of the furnishings and faces, a complicated narrative, a perverse writer who is prosaic but amusing, and foremost, a detective with an emotional life.” (Film Noir Reader 2 Alain Silver, James Ursini, eds. Page 16)

 

Lydecker:  “I suppose you're here about the Laura Hunt murder... Yesterday morning, after Laura's body was found... I was questioned by Sergeants McAvity and Schultz... and I stated... On Friday night, Laura had a dinner engagement with me... after which she was ostensibly going out of town. She phoned and canceled our engagement at exactly…”

 

McPherson:  Why did you write it down?  Afraid you'd forget it?

 

I certainly look forward to seeing TCM’s screening of Laura. Thank you.

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Loved this opening shot, one of Preminger's trademark long takes.

In 1 1/2 minutes, the camera goes from the crystal objects in the display case, around the room, and back to the same objects again.

The other thing I liked is that you think, for most of the first minute, that the room is all you'll see in the opening scene, but then the camera lands on McPherson at just the second Lydecker says, sardonically, "Another of those detectives came to see me."

I've had this movie on DVD for some years, and will have to watch it again now!

Yes, I have always appreciated the long, slow views of the camera work around the set/environment.

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Q. What examples do you see that fit with Nino Frank's contention that Laura is a "charming character study of furnishings and faces?"

 

I believe Nino Frank was referring to the guided tour we are given of Waldo Lydecker's apartment and how this tour gives us clues to the characters. We are shown the fine, cultured furnishings which lead us to the introduction of Lydecker in his bath. Being in his bath Lydecker shows his lack of modesty as well as his sense of superiority. He orders McPherson around like he was Lydecker's man-servant oblivious to McPherson's disdain for him. McPherson, on the other hand, appears to be the average working class Joe who is both impressed by and repulsed by Lydecker's sense of superiority. He doesn't object to tossing Lydecker a washcloth or handing him his robe but he could just as easily use his own abilities as a man of the law to reject him.

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"Laura" is one of my favorite movies, film noir or otherwise. It's well crafted, well acted and the cinematography is stunning. The opening monologue by Waldo Lydecker gives an insight into his character and how he thinks. The way the camera pans around the room, highlighting the expensive and rare clock and the objets d'art in the display case shows that he prizes things over people. I think he saw Laura as part of his collection of pretty things, nothing more, and would do anything necessary to keep her. I worked with a local theater group on a production of the stage version of "Laura", which has a few characters and scenes that aren't in the original film. 

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I think the measure of a truly great movie is never getting tired of seeing it. I've watched this movie so many times since I was a kid and still get excited when I see it listed (usually TCM).

 

I'm trying for no spoilers here:

 

A film noir with a first class cast. Not the standard. This is one of the reasons, I think, this film stands out.

 

The music/soundtrack is one of a kind. Intoxicating (I hope that doesn't sound pretentious) but you know what I mean.

 

Laura is not an innocent. As the movie progresses you find out she's had quite a few men (not usually what you hear in a movie at that time) Waldo specifically says " ...and there were others.", after he tells McPherson about himself, Shelby and the painter/artist. And the fact that Lydecker is so much older than Laura seems to show her ambition. She's having an an affair with an effete, overbearing man at least 30 years older than her. For what it's worth I have always thought he loved her, obsessively, but did love her. McPherson, too.

 

Since I haven't seen the movie in a couple years, I'm going to stop here. I'll be watching tomorrow and checking back, hopefully with some better insight.

 

Thrilled to be part of the group.

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Laura opens with the line "I shall never forget the weekend Laura died." Preminger doesn't waste any time letting you know the kind of darkness that awaits us. From there, we get a pan across a room filled with what appears to be valuable antiquities, suggesting a rather cultured individual. When we finally see Waldo, you get the sense that Laura was/is someone who was far too young for Waldo as is the case for many damsels who falling with significantly older men. Laura is a trophy like all the other furnishings in the room. The voiceover narration, to me, was reminiscent of Billy Wilder's Sunset Blvd. in that the narration suggests that this is all going to end in death. Film noir tends to do that, I think.

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Q: What do you think about how Preminger introduces the character of Waldo Lydecker in this scene?

 

In having Lydecker narrate the opening we are introduced to his obsession with control, luxury, details, and the finer things in life. By having Lydecker himself introduce himself to us, we are confronted with his superiority and his desire to explain Laura's death in his own words. Lydecker is laid out for us with great detail and we are left with few questions about his importance. At the same time, Preminger's allowing Lydecker to have so much control at the start lays a groundwork for suspicion of Lydecker's motives.

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Q. In what ways can the opening of Laura be considered as an important contribution to the film noir style?

 

The voice-over narration was not new at this point but it certainly seems more effective here. The opening of Laura lays the groundwork for identifying the protagonist, the victim, and the hero, all in the first few moments. This is an important contribution because it gives the audience the "teasers" which keep us involved and interested. It also,sets the tone of the rest of the film.

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A year ago, I read the novel Laura.. The three main characters in film were so well defined and played, I heard their voices in my head as I read. Having watched the movie serval times before, I was surprised the clock was pointed at the start of the film. Now, I stands out like a catch me if you can hint.

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When thinking about 'the furnishings' in Laura, I had to rewatch the end of the film this evening, after seeing the opening clip this morning. And with the opening sequence focusing on the objects d'art (possibly including the portrait while the titles are rolling) and then with the broken clock towards the end - it's like bookending the film - how you come into this noir world as an observer and then how you leave it when the story has been told.

 

Tangential to that, and maybe because I was watching Gosford Park this past weekend, when you think about furnishings - class distinction comes through. With the opening scene - it's a murder in high society. McPherson is a fish out of water. He's in his element when at the station - plain, nothing decorative - a clear separation from the world that Laura inhabits. The absence of furnishing reminded me of the servants hall in the film ans spurred that line of thought for me.

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I think the narration at the beginning of this film grabs the audience. It mentions a murder while we see the lavish furnishings of Lydecker's home. Also, the way we're introduced to Lydecker is quite interesting and unconventional for the 1940s. You can tell Lydecker and the detective both know more than what they're saying.

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"Woolcott was also (if one assumes that Waldo is)  gay."

 

I think that Waldo can be inspired by Woolcott's personality (his friends George S Kaufman and Moss Hart called him "old violets and vitriol"), without having every attribute of Woolcott's personality and existence. Waldo is a fictional character, not a recreation of Woolcott. He kills Laura out of old-fashioned jealousy. This tells me that he is a heterosexual, despite the fact that he is effeminate. Waldo is slightly built, prissy, acerbic, literary, and not the alpha male to whom Laura is routinely drawn.

 

Waldo is a perfect noir villain. He is filled with bitterness toward the popular ideal male, the strong silent type who exudes physical masculinity. Alienated from the object of his desire by her constant attraction to the ideal sort of man, Waldo takes the wrong path to retaining and controlling Laura by trying to end her life while she is still available. Once he thinks her life has been  cut off at this stage, he then proceeds to write her story in the opening sequence of the film. When Laura is dead  she is something he can collect and keep away from manly men such as Detective MacPherson ("Don't touch that, it's priceless!").

 

Waldo's apartment, which is the epitome of taste and sophistication for the period, is a key to his character. We can imagine that MacPherson probably lives in a room in a boarding house and is happy to wait for a wife to upgrade his surroundings - he can't be bothered. The contrast between the two men is clear. Waldo is a feminized esthete and MacPherson is the uber male. When MacPherson walks through the apartment, occasionally smirking at portions of Waldo's collection, the audience knows immediately that the detective is too masculine to appreciate the effete touches, and the owner of these "objets" is not the usual man. Waldo's furnishings and MacPherson's faces are important to cluing the audience into the contrasts that are at the heart of the crime.

 

 

Watching the scene in Waldo's wonderful bathroom made me think of what life was like before we all had air conditioning. Summers were hot and the best place to stay cool would be a marble bathtub. Waldo is lucky to be able to luxuriate in one until he dresses to go out for the afternoon or evening. The writer is so self-centered that he is careless of the fact that he is naked in his tub before a complete stranger. He even gets out of the bath in front  of the detective who gives Waldo's skinny, inadequate frame the same dismissive smirk he gave Waldo's collection. Maybe Waldo is rich, cultured and sophisticated, but MacPherson knows he is the real man in the room. Waldo is inadequate, not him. So, despite Waldo's obvious superiority in many ways, he is always really inferior, thus the source of his bitterness and alienation.

 

When the film opens, Laura is already dead. The audience is caught off-guard. We came to see the gorgeous Gene Tierney, but all we have now are her friends, acquaintances and portrait. Our minds are racing, when are we going to see the star of the film meeting the hero, falling in love with the hero, living happily ever after with the hero. The first time I saw the film I thought it would be told in a flashback. Laura's surprise entrance into the film was a real treat. The audience is off balance for a long time which creates interest, suspense, and intrigue. The contribution to noir is that unlike, the Swede in "The Killers," who is waiting to be murdered in the opening sequence of the film, or Walter Neff who is narrating his own death scene at the start of "Double Indemnity," Laura is already dead and gone in the beginning of "Laura." Her status as dead from the get-go is definitely a twist on some of the great beginnings of other noirs, but it does help cement the leading character's murder at the start of the film as a noir construct.

 

 

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This film has the best opening line ever written- it pulls you in immediately and you want to, no, have to know- what is this all about?  I have not seen this movie for a while and will be watching it this week with a different eye after reading so many of the comments here. One thing(of a few)that amused me in this scene was when Waldo tells McPherson "Careful there, that stuff is priceless!".   I was thinking that for a man who uses words for a living and obviously feels he is superior would use the word "stuff".  So common.....

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This entire comment has light spoilers for the film. Be warned, newbies!

 

Laura is not an innocent. As the movie progresses you find out she's had quite a few men (not usually what you hear in a movie at that time) Waldo specifically says " ...and there were others.", after he tells McPherson about himself, Shelby and the painter/artist. And the fact that Lydecker is so much older than Laura seems to show her ambition. She's having an an affair with an effete, overbearing man at least 30 years older than her. For what it's worth I have always thought he loved her, obsessively, but did love her. McPherson, too.
 

 

I wouldn't say Laura isn't innocent, just because she's had lovers. I mean, I know it was the 40s and a different time, but I don't think her dating or having sex says anything about her character. Every bit of info we get about her implies she's a genuinely nice person. 

The Lydecker relationship is maybe the most damning aspect of her character, in that it implies she's a bit of an ambitious gold digger. But I'm not so sure that's the easiest read, either. She doesn't ever seem to lead him on, she just accepts the gifts he lavishes on her. In fact she tells him off at the beginning, and then he comes and apologizes and that's when the friendship starts. I don't want to sound like I'm falling in love with Laura as well, but she doesn't seem to be misleading him in any way. She's very upfront about her other relationships, Lydecker is aware she's going to marry Shelby. Everyone else is aware of Lydecker. I get the impression their relationship isn't a sexual one. I think Lydecker just wants to "improve" her so he can own her, like all of the stuff he has on display in his apartment. And if she were to get married, that would end his ownership.

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"Laura" was one of the first DVDs i purchased shortly after buying a large screen plasma tv (b&w looks gorgeous on plasma). i watched it so often that i became intimately familiar with the characters.

 

I always felt the movie was a case study in obsessive personalities. the unobtrusive but haunting music, the chiming of the grandfather clock, and the camera panning across Lydecker's near-compulsive collection of art all magnify this along with the Lydecker narration: Everything we see in this opening is a mirror of the characters. In that sense, i understand Nino Frank's contention of this movie being a "study of furnishings and faces."

 

For these same reasons, "Laura" is a prime example of what would later come to signify film noir. The moody beginning and the solipsistic fatalism of the opening narration probably influenced many of the characters that would later evolve in the genre.

 

I've never understood why Preminger introduced Lydecker in the fashion he did, except to show that he is an eccentric. There are many subtle tones introduced in this opening scene that will become important later in the movie, and perhaps Preminger wanted to get away with a little impropriety just before McPherson hands Lydecker a robe (did everyone notice his quick glance downward followed by the grin?).

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The opening of Laura establishes the contrasts between Lydecker and McPherson.  Lydecker, by virtue of his intellect, position and possessions, firmly believes he is above everyone including one more detective.  His home reflects his character.  McPherson presents himself passively but strongly - you get the impression that he can handle himself in any situation, with anyone.  This sets up the conflict you know is coming.

There is no build-up to the murder - the opening line tells us that.  What follows is the necessary dark uncovering of the lives involved with and impacted by the murder.

The narration and music set a tone that will be revisited throughout the film.

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The opening scene at first doesn't seem all that different from a lot of movies from this are: the voice over, the slow panning over objects and scenery,the dialogue detailing some form of trouble or loss. The surprise is when the McPherson goes into the bathroom to talk to Lydecker and he's sitting in the bath. There wasn't much skin shown in movies at this time, either by men or women, so it's kind of shocking to see a man sitting in the bathtub, knowing he's supposed to be considered naked. McPherson doesn't seem to notice it that much however; he's more intent on making insinuations that Lydecker is guilty right off the bat. For me, it wasn't the kind of opening I was anticipating at all and held my interest right away.

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I love the setting of the opening scene - posh, opulent.  Having Clifton Webb in the tub would have been shocking in the days the movie was made, still startling today.  The dialogue between the two characters reveals their personality traits immediately.

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