Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Laura (1944)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Laura (1944)

In Otto Preminger's haunting and romantic film noir, with a haunting and atmospheric theme song by David Raksin:

  • the opening scene's pan around the interior of a New York penthouse and the occupant's narration, delivered in voice-over by celebrated, acidic-witted columnist Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) - the camera tracked from left to right across glass cabinets with beautifully-displayed shelves of priceless objets d'art - in the alcove of Lydecker's elegantly-expensive, New York City apartment/penthouse; it was the hottest day of the summer of 1944, and it was revealed that the story took place in the recent past, at the time of 'Laura's' (Gene Tierney) death: ("I shall never forget the weekend Laura died. A silver sun burned through the sky like a huge magnifying glass. It was the hottest Sunday in my recollection. I felt as if I were the only human being left in New York. For Laura's horrible death, I was alone. I, Waldo Lydecker, was the only one who really knew her. And I had just begun to write Laura's story when - another of those detectives came to see me. I had him wait. I could watch him through the half-open door. 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")
  • the first view of Lydecker, typing his notes in his bathtub when questioned by handsome gumshoe/police detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) of the Homicide Bureau; while listening to "Laura's Theme" on the phonograph, Lydecker asked McPherson: "Have you ever been in love?" with the reply: "A doll in Washington Heights once got a fox fur out of me"
  • the beginning of the investigation inside of Laura's Manhattan apartment by Lydecker and McPherson, including both staring at Laura's portrait above the fireplace
  • and later, the obsessive actions of McPherson alone in Laura's apartment - when he rummaged through Laura's bedroom drawers and lingerie, inhaled her perfume, and peered into her mirrored closets and then stared at the haunting, domineering oil portrait of Laura -- and fell in love with the dead woman in the portrait
  • the memorable snowstorm scene when the jealous Lydecker saw Laura with noted portrait painter Jacoby in her bedroom window, and afterwards wrote a scathing column to assassinate the man's character out of spite: ("I demolished his affectations, exposed his camouflaged imitations of better painters, ridiculed his theories. I did it for her, knowing Jacoby was unworthy of her. It was a masterpiece because it was a labor of love. Naturally, she could never regard him seriously again. There were others, of course. But her own discrimination ruled them out before it became necessary for me to intercede")
  • the scene of Laura's loyal "domestic" maid Bessie Clary (Dorothy Adams) castigating McPherson for reading Laura's private letters and diary: ("You've been readin' 'em, pawin' over them. It's a shame in the face of the dead. That's what it is. It's a shame!") and her statement of adoration for Laura: ("She was a real, fine lady...")
  • Lydecker's incisive description of McPherson's obsession over the murdered woman: ("...It's a wonder you don't come here like a suitor with roses and a box of candy...I don't think I ever had a patient who ever fell in love with a corpse")
  • the surprising and memorable scene when Laura Hunt suddenly walked into her apartment - a murdered woman who mysteriously appeared over half way into the film - and the double stunned looks (Laura was shocked to find a stranger in her apartment, and the astonished look of Detective McPherson who had already dreamed of what she was like from her portrait, her perfume, her clothes, her letters, her apartment's decor, and the recollections of others) - had he willed her into existence?; and also later, Lydecker's stumbling reaction to seeing Laura alive
Laura's Sudden Appearance to Detective McPherson
  • the tough interrogation scene in which McPherson grilled Laura about what she had been holding back: ("Let's have it")
  • the final scene of Lydecker's radio broadcast ("I close this evening's broadcast with some favorite lines...Brief Life - They are not long, the weeping and the laughter, love and desire and hate. I think they have no portion in us after we pass the gate...They are not long, the days of wine and roses. Out of a misty dream, our path emerges for a while, then closes within a dream")
  • Lydecker's threat to kill Laura with a shotgun blast rather than lose her to McPherson: ("The best part of myself - that's what you are. Do you think I'm going to leave it to the vulgar pawing of a second-rate detective who thinks you're a dame? Do you think I could bear the thought of him holding you in his arms, kissing you, loving you? There he is now. He'll find us together, Laura as we always have been and we always should be, as we always will be")
  • and the climactic moment shortly after when Lydecker was mortally wounded in an exchange of gunfire with the police
  • Lydecker's last words to Laura when she rushed to his side: "Good-bye, Laura. Good-bye, my love," accompanied by an image of the shotgun-damaged grandfather clock

Columnist Waldo Lydecker in Bathtub, Questioned by Detective

Laura's Haunting Portrait

Interrogation Scene

Lydecker Threatening to Kill Laura with Shotgun, But Shot by Police: "Goodbye, Laura. Goodbye, my love"

The Shotgun-Damaged Grandfather Clock Where the Gun Had Been Hidden


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