Expertly paced, gripping, and dripping with sensuality, Otto Preminger’s Laura has hardly aged a day. It grabs hold from the opening bell, when detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) meets with snarky aristocratic journalist Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) in Lydecker’s posh home to discuss the murder of Lydecker’s quasi-girlfriend Laura Hunt (an explosively sexy Gene Tierney). Naked in his bathtub, Lydecker’s smarmy quips and peculiar worldview immediately add intrigue to Laura: who is this weirdo? He must be more than twice Laura’s age: what was he to her? More suspects quickly pop into the picture, such as Laura’s servant Bessie (Dorothy Adams) and Laura’s fiancé Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price). And while McPherson interrogates the lot and darts around town, he always seems to end up back in Laura’s apartment, where a dramatic painting of her likeness hangs over the fireplace. Indeed, Laura’s magnetic pull appears to extend to everyone her life has touched: flashbacks reveal quirky and varied initial meetings—attempting to recruit Lydecker’s endorsement for her advertising firm on a brand of pen; bantering with Carpenter at a cocktail party—but a lazy attention span. Preminger superbly depicts Laura’s depth of character: she was clearly creative, bold, and sharp as a tack, but also ladylike and coy, progressive while simultaneously embracing attention from men. Strong editing, beautiful black-and-white cinematography and excellent acting across-the-board, particularly from the luscious Tierney, make Laura sexy and engaging, a must-see effort with strengths aplenty.

77/100