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Laura (1944)

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Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Composer David Raksin and film historian Jeanine Basinger Rating:7.8/10 (8 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by Glenn Hopp on May 13th, 2006:Find all reviews by Glenn Hopp
Basinger is a film professor and seems to touch on just about everything of interest concerning this movie. There is no gossip or anecdotes concerning the participants (which, to me, is fine for classic, older films), just lots of solid, smart information. She is especially good on the evocative, distinctive set designs. Some of her most observant remarks occur during one of the few scenes at Laura's country cabin, which she points out is dressed very meticulously to reflect Laura's personality, when a routine job could have easily been done for a set that appears so briefly in the film. Basinger clarifies the differences A pictures and B pictures during the studio era and points out the elements of this film (casting and sets) that mark it as an A picture. She slips in credits about the crew (such as DP Joseph LaShelle, who won the film's only Oscar) very unobtrusively.

Her very best insights come in a short scene in a powder room between Gene Tierney and Judith Anderson, which is shot with no cuts. It seems at first glance to have nearly no "style" at all, but Basinger brings out how the choice of key lighting (on Tierney's face) and the subtleties of acting (by Anderson, remarking very matter of factly on how she and the Vincent Price character are capable of murder) illustrate the "objective" directorial style of Otto Preminger and make the short scene very dramatic and memorable. If you turn to commentaries to learn something about movies and technique, this one is extremely enjoyable and satisfying. Basinger's remarks are intercut with comments by the composer David Raskin, which are fewer but also interesting. His best observation calls attention to the very quick downcast eyes and telling smirk by Dana Andrews when Clifton Webb (off-camera) gets up out of his bathtub to put on a robe.
Commentary 2: Film historian Rudy Behlmer Rating:8.2/10 (8 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by Glenn Hopp on May 14th, 2006:Find all reviews by Glenn Hopp
This commentary is not keyed very closely to what's on the screen (as Basinger's is, which is also on this disc--she even alerts the viewer to an upcoming swish pan at one point), but it is interesting in mapping the evolution of the story from novel to play to screenplay and all the permutations along the way. As a supplement to the Basinger/Raskin commentary it is good. On its own, it would disappoint, perhaps, in failing to touch on any visual elements of the movie.