Download Episode | Subscribe via iTunes | Subscribe via RSS

A detective falls in love with the woman whose murder he’s investigating.

Mark McPherson

Release Date:
November 1944

Vera Caspary (novel), Jay Dratler (screenplay) and Samuel Hoffenstein (screenplay) and Elizabeth Reinhardt (screenplay) (as Betty Reinhardt) Ring Lardner Jr. (uncredited)

Laura, by Vera Caspary

Mystery Analysis:
Detective as protagonist?

Jenny: Yes.  Introduced in the first scene, then dropped while a suspect he’s interviewing throws the movie into one hellacious long flashback, then back to him.  Waldo’s voiceover is confusing, too.  The beginning of this movie is really botched, but MacPherson is definitely the protag.
Lani: Yes… once we finally get to him. The first third of the movie, Waldo’s presented as the protagonist, and the switch isn’t made gracefully.

Murderer as antagonist?
Jenny: Yes.  He does everything he can to muddy the investigation and throw suspicion on the other suspects.
Lani: Sure. Mostly.

Conflict created by mystery/murder?
Jenny: Yes.
Lani: Yes, the death of Laura brings the protagonist and antagonist together.

Fair play with all the clues given?
Jenny:  Yes.
Lani: Yes, in that we get all the clues that the detective does. He doesn’t get many actual clues, though.

Solved using deduction, not luck?
Jenny: Yes.
Lani: Yes, although if he’d looked inside the clock right after Waldo first mentioned it… but no nitpicking. Yes.

All threads pertaining to the mystery pull together at the end?
Jenny: Yes.
Lani: Yes. Not a lot of threads there, but yes.

Story Analysis & Ratings:

Jenny says: 3 Pops
Mystery: 4, Craft: 3, Suspense: 2, Romance: 2

Lani says: 2.5 Pops
Mystery: 4, Craft: 3, Suspense: 2, Romance: 1

, ,

6 responses to “Laura”

  1. I don’t know this movie at all. It sounds interesting, but by your ratings I can maybe not go in search of it. : ) However, if it ever came up on Turner Classics then I would definitely watch it.

  2. It’s really a classic film, right up there with The Maltese Falcon at being well-known without people having seen it. And the central premise is a strong one emotionally–a detective investigating a woman’s murder and falling in love with her as he discovers the kind of person she way–but the movie doesn’t execute it well.

  3. I read the book before I saw this, and I think it colored how I saw the movie. I noticed all the things they kept and all the things they changed. I re-read it so often because I love McPherson and the premise.

    I felt like they started with Mark, but then I was expecting Waldo’s POV from the first scene in the book. Once they get out of the bathroom, Mark is the one asking questions, stirring the pot with Shelby, confronting the aunt about her relationship with the fiance. Waldo is just along for the ride making sarcastic remarks. The hideously long flashback is also straight out of the book, I think. Maybe where they went wrong here was trying to be faithful to the book for the first half and then throwing parts of it out in the second half? I suspect they were cutting it down for time.

    That episode of Moonlighting is one of the ones I actually like. Been a while since I saw it, but I remember thinking of it as “the Laura episode.” The scene with Maddie listening to the tapes was really good.

  4. PS: Everyone should see Vincent Price in His Kind of Woman. He’s a supporting character, but he’s still the best part of the movie – hilarious ham actor with all the best lines 🙂

  5. Anyone else think Waldo is the most distinctive character in the movie, annoying and killer though he may be? Seriously, he at least has some personality.

    I second the “oh, wait, he’s falling in love with her now?” reaction.

  6. Absolutely. I do have a soft spot for MacPherson and his baseball game thingy, but Laura is so Mary Sue as to be offputting.