LauraLast Heartthrob Chapter Two:

Out of the Past

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Movie: Laura (1944)

This episode takes a look at an advertising world very different from the one inhabited by Laura Hunt.

There is one very obvious reference to one of the characters in Laura, but there are thematic echoes of the piece throughout the series. It's unavoidable, as Laura is prototypical noir.

"Otto Preminger's 1944 Laura marks an important transition in film history. Visually it harks back to Hollywood's Golden Era, flooding with light elaborate sets and the glamorous stars they hold--but at crucial moments a noir vision bubbles up to artfully blemish this smooth facade. It is a classic love story--except that it hinges on forbidden fantasy and murder. It at once gives a coy nod to the parlor psychology of the Thin Man variety of mystery, and looks forward to the dark Hitchcockian psychological thriller. It is a Janus of a film, and it may be eternally debated whether its double vision signals an end or a beginning." - Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir Podcast (A Must Listen)

Discussion:

In the podcast, Edwards suggests that since Laura is a traditional Hollywood film shot by German émigré Otto Preminger, who fled the horrors of Europe, "noir then becomes the counterpoint that starts to prick at the conscience of the audience." What do you think of that assessment?

Laura is a Hays Code-era picture. When you consider the implications of the underlying murder at the heart of Laura, how well does it adhere to the principle that "No picture shall be produced that will lower the moral standards of those who see it. Hence the sympathy of the audience should never be thrown to the side of crime, wrongdoing, evil or sin?"

Roger Ebert observed, "Film noir is known for its convoluted plots and arbitrary twists, but even in a genre that gave us The Maltese Falcon, this takes some kind of prize...That Laura continues to weave a spell -- and it does -- is a tribute to style over sanity." Do you agree? What about Clifton Webb's style?


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