Erroll Garner – Laura [Jazz 625]

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In what may be a movie first in destroying your “suspension of disbelief”, when Lydecker first visits Laura at work, he enters the outer office and in one continuous tracking shot, walks through the connecting door to the editorial department where her desk is. But as the camera follows him, you can clearly see it’s a movie set because the gap between both sides of the wall shows the wooden wall supports. In every movie I’ve seen, that shot is accomplished by a brief flashing of darkness as it moves through the shot, hiding your seeing that the end of the wall is open and the obvious fact it’s a movie set, not a real interior.

According to his daughter Victoria, Vincent Price felt that Gene Tierney had as much to do with this movie’s success as Producer and Director Otto Preminger‘s direction: “In his opinion, it was Gene Tierney’s ‘odd beauty’ and underrated acting ability that made ‘Laura’ so popular”, she said. “He felt her beauty was both timeless and imperfect.”

Laura 1944 trailer Gene Tierney Dana Andrews

Gene Tierney didn’t give herself much credit for its success: “I never felt my own performance was much more than adequate. I am pleased that audiences still identify me with Laura, as opposed to not being identified at all. Their tributes, I believe, are for the character – the dreamlike Laura – rather than any gifts I brought to the role. I do not mean to sound modest. I doubt that any of us connected with the movie thought it had a chance of becoming a kind of mystery classic, or enduring beyond its generation. If it worked, it was because the ingredients turned out to be right.”

According to Gene Tierney, the cast also had to endure several hours of delays so that everything would be exactly as Producer and Director Otto Preminger wanted it. “Joe (Cinematographer Joseph LaShelle) was determined to make a success of his big opportunity. He would take ages to light a scene. Every time I heard him say, ‘No, no, it’s not right’, I could feel my teeth clench, and I knew there went another hour or two of waiting for the lights to be set.”

Marlene Dietrich expressed interest in portraying Laura Hunt.

“Laura” is a 1945 popular song composed by David Raksin, with lyrics written by Johnny Mercer from the 1944 movie starring Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews. It has since become a jazz standard with over four hundred known recordings. Erroll Louis Garner (June 15, 1921 — January 2, 1977) was an American jazz pianist and composer known for his swing playing and ballads. His best-known composition, the ballad “Misty”, has become a jazz standard. Allmusic.com calls him “one of the most distinctive of all pianists” and a “brilliant virtuoso”. “Laura” is a 1945 popular song composed by David Raksin, with lyrics written by Johnny Mercer from the 1944 movie starring Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews. It has since become a jazz standard with over four hundred known recordings.

In one of the most celebrated 1940s film noirs, Manhattan detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) investigates the murder of Madison Avenue executive Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney) in her fashionable apartment. On the trail of her murderer, McPherson quizzes Laura’s arrogant best friend, gossip columnist Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) and her comparatively mild fiancé, Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price). As the detective grows obsessed with the case, he finds himself falling in love with the dead woman.

When Producer and Director Otto Preminger had a chance to look at the first batch of dailies that came back, he was aghast, “I had chosen a simple dressing gown for (Dame) Judith Anderson but (Rouben Mamoulian), influenced perhaps by association (by) the Medea role for which she was famous, had dressed her in something flowing and Grecian. It was totally wrong for a contemporary story and so were his sets. The performances were appalling. (Dame) Judith Anderson was overacting, Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney were amateurish and there was even something wrong with Clifton Webb‘s performance.” Preminger promptly had the rushes air-mailed to Twentieth Century Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck in New York City so that he could see for himself what was happening with “Laura”. Zanuck agreed that it was a mess and ordered Rouben Mamoulian to shoot everything over again. Preminger, he reiterated, was still barred from the set. When the second set of dailies proved to be just as bad as the first, if not worse, Darryl F. Zanuck decided to remove Rouben Mamoulian from this movie altogether. Finally the words that Otto Preminger had wanted to hear all along came from Zanuck’s mouth when he returned to Los Angeles, California. “Monday”, he told Preminger, “you can start directing ‘Laura’. From scratch.”

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