Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"Goodbye, Laura. Goodbye, my love"

The Cast of Laura at the WCT
Laura Hunt was the ideal modern woman: beautiful, elegant, highly ambitious and utterly, captivatingly, mysterious.  No man could resist her charms, not even the hard-boiled NYPD detective sent to find out who turned her into a faceless corpse.

Steve Sullivan as hard-boiled cop Mark McPherson

As this tough cop probes the mystery of Laura's death, he becomes obsessed with her strange power.  He soon realizes he has been seduced - by a dead woman!

Or has he?
Jay Miramontes plays Shelby Carpenter
Famed Film Director and Producer Otto Preminger was looking for a theatrical project to direct when he became aware of a story by Vera Caspary.  Someone had given him Vera's first draft of a play titled, "Ring Twice for Laura".  It was later to become a famed film, two books, as well as a play.

Preminger liked the high-society setting and the unusual plot twist, but felt it needed reworking and so the project was shelved.  Caspary eventually adapted the play into a novel by the same title, and a sequel entitled simply, Laura.

Film rights to both books were eventually purchased by 20th Century Fox.

Preminger was then assigned the task of developing the books for the screen.  He liked the character of Waldo and expanded the role accordingly, much to author Caspary's distress. It appears the two never really got along.

Norman Dostal plays Waldo Lydecker, charismatic newspaper columnist
Filming began in 1944, with Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews in the lead roles.  Both actors were relative newcomers at the time.

The film also had Clifton Webb cast as Waldo Lydecker, Vincent Price as Shelby Carpenter and Judith Anderson as character named Ann Treadwell.

Darryl F. Zanuck was initially unhappy with Preminger's first cut of the film.  He insisted on giving it a new ending.  However, the new ending didn't work and Zanuck finally relented, telling Preminger, "This is your success.  I concede."

Candy Beck as loyal housekeeper Bessie McClary
It really was Preminger's success.  In 1999 the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, cited as being "Culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".  The American Film Institute ranks the film #73 on their 100 Years - 100 Thrills list; #7 on their 100 Years of Film Scores, and #4 in their Mystery Genre Top 10.

Amy Anderson as "a girl"
The main movie theme, Laura, has become a jazz standard.  It has been recorded by more than 400 artists. According to legend, film score composer David Raksin was inspired by a Dear John letter he received from his girlfriend when he wrote the haunting theme.

Julie Breihan as Mrs. Dorgan

Kieran Flanagan as Mrs. Dorgan's boy, Danny

John Francis as Olsen
Noted film critic, Roger Ebert, once wrote: 
"...Laura continues to weave a spell."

Laura is currently weaving her spell on the Whittier Community Theatre stage.  The production, directed by WCT veteran director, Suzanne Frederickson, and produced by Karen Jacobsen, opens on Valentine's Day.

Performances are: February 14, 15, 21, 22, 23 (matinee), 28 and March 1st.

Tickets are $15 for Adults, and $10 for Senior Adults, Students and Military with I.D.  For Reservations call 562-696-0600, or go to

Tickets are also available on Goldstar.

Come see this American film noir classic on stage!

According to the Rotten Tomatoes site, it is both a "psychologically complex portrait of obsession" and a "deliciously well-crafted murder mystery".

Photos by Lindsay Jacobson

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