Yeah, dames are always pulling a switch on you.
Otto Preminger's wonderfully crafted mystery has become something of a big favourite of many people over the years, and rightly so. But just what is it that makes the film so watchable after all these years?
Sure the cast is solid, but I personally wouldn't say spectacular. Gene Tierney simmers and holds it together whilst Clifton Webb, Dana Andrews & Vincent Price are perfectly admirable in their roles as guys in drippy infatuation with Tierney's vibrant title character.
Perhaps the success of the piece is with the screenplay? Adapted by at least "five" known writers from the novel by Vera Caspary, it is in truth delightfully bonkers! You have shades of necrophilia, potential gay suitors, and the girl the boys all court is dead, minus her face after a shotgun assault. Then there is the fact that Laura bends the conventions of the genres it can each sit in. Is it film noir, a who done it, a ghost story or just a plane old detective story? Does it matter? No, not really, because it's the ambiguity that is the films strength. As for Laura Hunt herself, well she's no femme fatale, in fact she's an ordinary woman, yet the men are in awe of her. It shouldn't work on the surface, but it does, very much so.
The film had something of a troubled shoot, hires and fires and jiggled endings were abound. Preminger was originally the producer for the film but was hired after Fox head honcho Darryl Zanuck fired Rouben Mamoulian. He in turn replaced cinematographer Lucian Ballard with Joseph LaShelle (who won the Academy Award for his efforts). Regardless, what we have with the finished product is a cheeky and often twisted tale of obsession. A film where one can never be sure what is actually going to develop, right up to, and including, the final denouement. 8/10