For a better experience on MUBI, update your browser.
Critics reviews
Laura
Otto Preminger United States, 1944
Under Preminger’s cold, hard direction—with only David Raksin’s famously swooning score giving off any inkling of passion—there’s no easy moralizing toward this glamorously elusive figure. She is who she is, and perhaps knows not what she does to the men around her. The murder mystery might be solved at the end, but the mystery of Laura herself remains.
September 07, 2016
Read full article
The famous still of detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews), collapsed in a chair in front of the portrait, half-drunk and mesmerized, is the stand-in for scores of viewers of the film, haunted by its power to reflect back our own dreams and desires—for a past or imagined love, for the return of something lost, for anything at all.
June 15, 2016
Read full article
Preminger’s strategically ornate mise-en-scène allows for the film to slip easily between memory and the present, setting the model for all subsequent mysteries devoted to the haunting influence of the past. Resplendent and assured, Laura endures through its recalcitrant aesthetic distance as one of the standout noirs from the form’s golden period.
December 09, 2015
Read full article
Otto Preminger’s “Laura,” from 1944 (which I discuss in this clip), isn’t his first feature as a director, but it’s the first film that bears the mark of his artistry…. Preminger was, from the earliest days of modern film criticism, one of the crucial examples of such an auteur. The unity of his style and his themes is amazingly taut. To deny his artistry is to display prejudice regarding the economic and bureaucratic structures of moviemaking in favor of the traditional and pre-industrial arts.
July 16, 2015
Read full article
Keeping the characters in medium distances, [Preminger] contemplates the Baudelairean specter that is the heroine through the trio of clods projecting ideals onto her, not with severe interrogation lights but with the moody illumination of a continually reframing camera. A feverish trance wrapped in a deadpan investigation, mirrored laterally by the rest of the director’s career.
July 15, 2013
Read full article
The film’s shifting point-of-view… contributes significantly to the hyper-real tone that gained the attention of Frank and, subsequently, so many others. Waldo’s recollection to McPherson of how he discovered Laura, and began a relationship with her, instigates just one thread in the film’s overwhelming fabric of obsession. That Laura clears room for the advance of Lydecker, Carpenter and McPherson is a credit to the film’s economy and leads the way for future feminist interpretations.
March 17, 2013
Read full article
What’s perhaps most beguiling about Laura is the way the film acknowledges the characters’ flaws even as it duplicitously calls for moments of sympathy. This is a classic whodunit device, with each suspect’s innocence played against their wickedness, but in Laura such scripted chicanery becomes more poignant when it unravels the characters’ underlying erotic desires.
February 18, 2013
Read full article
LAURA is one of those films, like THE WIZARD OF OZ and CASABLANCA, seemingly ill-conceived (several hands worked on the screenplay) and ill-fated during production (two sets of both cinematographers and directors) that somehow emerge fully-formed and as perfect as a movie can ever be.
November 09, 2012
Read full article
Alternately sprightly and turgid, if abetted by its haunting, ubiquitous score, it’s far from a great movie—most beloved by second-generation surrealists who appreciate it for its time-liquidating dream narrative of l’amour fou. See that movie if you can; for me, Laura is a flavorsome but flawed anticipation of two far more delirious psychosexual cine-obsessions: Vertigo and Blue Velvet.
December 28, 2011
Read full article
The narrative twists of this blackest of noirs are only a small part of its delights. Director Otto Preminger conjures an enveloping atmosphere thick with cynicism and dread. It’s a world in which the quips are vicious and a ceaselessly ticking clock marks time while hiding secrets of its own… Guilt is omnipresent; innocence is alien. Few movies make you feel dirtier, and so perversely grateful for the pleasure.
December 19, 2011
Read full article
Quietly Godardian before the fact—does a story’s architecture matter as much as our ardor for imagery?—Laura is a hypnotic and deathlessly interpretable experience, what with Clifton Webb’s sexually contradictory presence, Vincent Price (!) as a smug paramour, and Andrews gilding the tough-dick paradigm with his own distinct brand of grieving lostness.
March 17, 2005
Read full article
At the cynical heart of Otto Preminger’s Laura is a murder, yet labeling this elegant 1944 noir classic a whodunit is to ignore its masterfully complex—and frequently campy—portrait of all-consuming romantic self-delusion.
March 17, 2005
Read full article
These anecdotes are not meant to devoid Laura of its merits but to remind us of the rule of the game (and the beauty of cinema): films are not only the results of their conditions of production, they are – sometimes – their reflection. To watch and watch again Laura is to understand how, as early as 1944, nothing is simple anymore in Hollywood. We’re witnessing in real time the birth of mannerism.
December 27, 1988
Read full article
It reveals a coldly objective temperament and a masterful narrative sense, which combine to turn this standard 40s melodrama into something as haunting as its famous theme. Less a crime film than a study in levels of obsession, Laura is one of those classic works that leave their subject matter behind and live on the strength of their seductive style.
January 01, 1980
Read full article
Its success postulates a pre-existing detective story plot that fits in with the film-maker’s purpose, or, more exactly, demands of the film-maker a vision that can be integrated into a given thriller theme. Again it is the director who takes the initiative and adapts to the genre. And the result, which one cannot deny is admirable, is worth infinitely more than the principle, which is no more than a half-measure.
December 25, 1955
Otto Preminger’s directing energetically enters into every part of the film and makes it more obvious and more like tin… The players’ positions in the scene are often petrified into tableaux, and the few action episodes, like the final murder attempt, are so overtrained that they run off as precisely as ballet-steps. All of this cuts the movie into a minimum of easily recognized ideas and leaves the audience still fewer things to find or judge for itself.
October 30, 1944