A Murder, You Say? – Laura (1944)

Solving a mystery.  So this is about a detective (Dana Andrews) trying to solve a fresh murder case.  There are a number of colorful suspects in the equation, all of which have motivation, and the fact that they all keep returning to the scene of the crime doesn’t make his job any easier.  Now I knew about this movie, but by name only.  My true film education is working my way through the list with my wife, and once again, it refuses to disappoint, giving me yet another satisfying movie that was previously absent from my database.

1It is a classic that deserves to be seen by a much larger modern audience.

One thing I enjoyed about Laura is that it is actually pretty funny.  It’s a serious subject matter, but this has a snappy script, and these are characters that can turn a phrase.  It’s in the same vein as The Maltese Falcon, and you’re trying to figure out what happened in this story just as much as this detective is.  I like how fluently the dialogue flowed, but it was never at the blinding tempo as something like the screwball comedy His Girl Friday.  It even starts off like a buddy cop film, as our protagonist detective has one of the suspects tailing him around as he conducts investigations (strictly doing research for his writing, of course), and there are a lot of different things going for this movie.

2Can film-noir please make a resurgence?

To top it all off, this has a fantastic twist at the midpoint that I quite honestly did not see coming.  You want to crack this case, and when there is a love triangle involved, nothing is easy.  Everybody is a suspect, and you’ll be tempted to take your own notes, and see if you can pin the crime on the right person.  This is a blast from the past murder mystery that has stood the test of time, and it is one of the best whodunit movies I have seen, especially in recent memory.

Laura (1944) ****12

– Critic for Hire


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