Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Last night was a quiet night so I decided to watch Laura from 1944.  It is a fairly quiet movie, and as detective mysteries go, it is one of the best.  Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney earned their pay for this one.  And the supporting roles with Clifton Webb and Vincent Price were perfect as well.

When I looked at the filmography of Clifton Webb, I was surprised to see so few films.  He is very well known, so each must have contributed to his reputation.  I remember him well from Cheaper by the Dozen in 1950 and Stars and Stripes Forever in 1952.  I want to look for Mister Scoutmaster from 1953, simply because I used to be one.

Webb lived from 1889 to 1966 and made only 27 films.  Laura was his first sound feature film, and he made one 10-minute sound short film in 1930.  Before that he appeared in small roles in five silent films from 1917 to 1925. 

Vinney Price appears miscast for his role as a playboy, but his demeanor worked extremely well, I thought.  What a mess his life was, always trying to hold on to his appearance of being wealthy, but he was really sponging off others.  I can see why the details of his story to the detective were always suspect in the movie.  In his mind, the truth could be flexible to meet his needs.

There were at least 37 uncredited players in Laura.  My favorite was Bessie, Laura's maid, played by Dorothy Adams (1900 - 1988).  She had a great accent for a maid in New York.  She played in four episodes of "Dragnet" on TV and she would fit in there very well.  Adams was a character actress making a good living in 146 roles, none of them important, from 1931 until 1975.  Why do we remember Clifton Webb and not Dorothy Adams?

Lane Chandler (1899 - 1972) was another character actor who made hundreds of films.  He was one of the detectives in Laura.  You will recognize him as a sheriff or a marshal or a cowboy in a lot of movie and TV roles, including "Have Gun, Will Travel", "Maverick" and "Cheyenne."

What you remember most about Laura is the song, which was written for the movie.  I, of course, in my warped way, remember best the version of Laura recorded by Spike Jones and his City Slickers!

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