Detective Mark McPherson investigates the apparent murder of advertising executive Laura Hunt. Told in flashback by Newspaper columnist Waldo Lydecker, Laura follows the detective as he falls in love with her through diaries and a portrait that hangs on her wall.
Gene Tierney stars as Laura, the titular character whose image floats through the film as if she were a mythical creature. Dana Andrews stars opposite her as the detective, Clifton Webb is Waldo Lydecker, Vincent Price is Shelby Carpenter, a role that would surprise today’s audiences, and Dorothy Adams is Bessie Clary.
Laura was adapted to screen from the 1943 novel of the same name by Vera Caspary. Directed and Produced by Otto Preminger, Laura is a classic Film Noir making lists of the top Noir’s for years.
While today’s audience may not find themselves as satisfied with the reveal, Laura still stands the test of time. A successful and talented woman is at the helm. Put on a pedestal by all the men, today’s feminist audience may see these male characters in a less than romantic light.
Film Noir has allowed women to take on roles usually reserved for men. After the Hayes Code was instated women typically portrayed the love interest, the wife, or the daughter. Occasionally they got to play roles far more interesting than that and Laura was a role worth having. Gene Tierney is perfect, as it is believable that any man could fall for her on her portrait alone. She has an essence that pours off the screen; her image excites us as she glides through the memories and imaginations of the other characters. While this role puts Tierney in a place of objectification she is also a strong and smart woman who fights against the ideas that men have of her.
Laura could have been created for the young starlet who by this time was best known for her film Heaven Can Wait alongside Don Ameche. While other good roles came before Laura better ones came after. Tierney would go on to star in Leave Her to Heaven alongside Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain and once again, Vincent Price. Vincent Price would appear in a few more roles outside of the genre he is most associated with but would eventually find his home in horror.
Fourteen Hours, is a lesser known Film Noir from 1951, directed by Henry Hathaway and Written by John Paxton. Based on an article by Joel Sayre in The New Yorker describing the 1938 suicide of John William Warden. The film was shot in New York and is the film debut of Grace Kelly in a small role.
The film follows a cop as he attempts to coerce a suicidal man off the ledge of a building. Onlookers and family discord make the situation worse as the Officer attempts to gain the unstable man’s trust. Over the course of fourteen hours he succeeds in winning him over only to have his efforts continually messed up due to those around him.
My happiest surprise while watching this film was the treatment of mental illness and the reality the stigma towards it. People on the streets are seen as being both sympathetic and horrible towards the situation. Below the man on the ledge, taxi drivers are placing bets and kids are mocking him. While this is a harsh view it is a true one and a view we still live with today. Far too often people forget that those suffering from a mental illness and those on the brink of suicide are ill and they need help. However we don’t view it in the same vein as physical illnesses like cancer so we have a distorted view of the harsh reality.
On the streets and in the buildings of New York, life continued. People went to work, found their ways back to each other and managed to find love. It is a Hollywood movie after all. You could’t expect them to make a movie with at least a little romance did you? Fourteen Hours breaks up the drama that exist on the ledge by showing us his affect on those below him and how they react to the situation. While this film may not be as well known as Noir classics Laura and Double Indemnity, it still works with a great script and superb acting by the films star, Robert Cosick.
Two endings to the film exist. The original and preferred ending by the Director has Robert falling to his death but due to the suicide of Fox President, Spyros Skourasdaughter on the day of the films preview the ending was changed to have Robert survive.
Starring: Bill Sage, Ambyr Childers, Julia Garner, Kelly McGillis, and Odeya Rush
Note: I have not seen the 2010 Mexican film of which this film is a remake of. I am judging this film completely on its own.
Last weeks Netflix pick of the week was the 2013 American adaptation of Mexican horror film We Are What We Are. This week I finally decided to sit down with a cup of tea and write down what I thought about the film. Since I have yet to see the original there will be no comparison. I am judging this film on its own.
WARNING: There may be a few spoilers. If you want to be 100% surprised don’t go past this point.
We Are What We Are is not your typical horror film. As a matter of fact I don’t see it as horror at all. I look at this film as more of a study on family and the way individual members cope with the death in the family
What happens when the matriarch of a family living in mere seclusion dies? Her oldest daughter must take on the greatest responsibility she must prepare the family meals. Now for your everyday family that wouldn’t seem like such a problem but this isn’t your normal family. We Are What We Are explores one of the last taboos in modern film culture by giving us a family whose tradition is cannibalism. The oldest daughter played by Ambry Childers must take on the most difficult job in the family. She must kill and cook the victims. Through out the film we are taken through three kids journeys. Specifically to the two teenage daughters. We watch as there father deteriorates and how they begin to question their way of life. Through out the film the middle child and youngest daughter reads through a book like some read through a bible. It is used as some type of guide for the girls while serving as a back story to answer any question as to why this is a old family tradition in the first place.
We Are What We Are is a slow burn family drama. It also acts as a coming of age tale of two teenage girls that begin to question their family’s tradition. I was drawn to the film through the trailer. It has a dark and all consuming atmosphere that pulls you in. A modern day story set in a small mountain town We Are What We Are will leave you with questions and that is how it should be. I am sure you will still find yourself with questions. If you enjoy slow burn horror films with a thought provoking story line this is a film for you. Check it out on Netflix.
"Is the cinema more important than life?" Francois Truffaut