Laura (1944)

After all the praise this movie received from the Greg Proops’ titular Film Club , I felt compelled to see this the minute the opportunity presented itself and thus here we find ourselves. In the end the movie didn’t quite captivate me the way I hoped that it would, but it was still an entirely pleasant oldie to watch.This might very well be another case of the hype getting the better of me before I sat down and saw the movie, so  I have the distinct feeling that I might get more out of this were I to re-watch it a couple of times. As if to absorb the ambiance and slowly digest it, and so forth. It somehow feels a little like a movie that you start to truly appreciate only with subsequent viewing.

Now, I’m always down for an old fashioned murder mystery and while the opening the story in medias res does throw you right into the middle of things in pleasing manner, the initial investigation itself ends up being a bit on the dull side. Beyond the flashbacks that shed light on what kind of a gal Laura exactly was and make you as the viewer frantically speculate just what might have prompted her murder, the story for whatever reason just didn’t grab me that much. It was slightly amusing seeing people acting all catty and suspicious towards each other because they’re hiding things that might at first glance incriminate them, but it wasn’t particularly engaging in the long run to get me invested in the story. It’s only when we get to the major twist of the movie, where we learn that Laura is still very much alive, meaning that the body found at her apartment that everybody had assumed to be her must have been someone else, that things get truly interesting and the story picks up a ton of momentum. The story doesn’t just revolve around people talking about Laura and telling how much they loved her anymore, we actually start to see proper, gripping investigating taking place now rather than people having casual and a bit dull conversations.

On the pros, I was positively surprised by how violent and dark the ending ended up being, especially given the era. It’s so well done that it went to great lengths to redeem the slow first half of the movie. The part where the killer sneaks into the apartment and slowly loads up the shotgun, careful not to make any noise and alert Laura who was in the other room, was very intense and commendably well constructed suspense. The motivation for the murder and the supposed alibi was also pretty sinister, and oddly enchanting. These are all things that are string enough that on their own they make me want to like this movie more than I actually do.

The acting is entirely okay, no real complaints, but nobody really seemed to pop out in a meaningful way to me. Well, aside from Vincent Price, but that’s only because it’s so odd seeing Price without his trademark mustache. It’s such an iconic staple for him it just takes me off the movie every time he appears on screen clean shaven and I almost don’t recognize him before he opens his mouth and says something. The lead detective was a bit too bland too, if I’m completely honest. He was hard, but didn’t have that charming edge to him that makes noir stories enjoyable.

Though nothing particularly ground breaking happens in this movie,  you are still left with an entirely sound, but not particularly memorable 71 years old homicide thriller that has some nice twists and decent acting in it. 

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