Film; but the truth is that his name often accompanies, like an untimely stowaway, the lists of undisputed masters. Investigating the reasons why Preminger has reached such a rank that he does not deserve to be considered by cinephiles will take a lot of time (and may cause the suspicion of tartufos of political correctness, since he is Ukrainian and Jewish!) ; but it is evident that his best works—Storm in Washington, Anatomy of a murder, The man with the golden arm, River of no return– do not measure those of the real masters. But let’s focus on the film that raised him to stardom.
French criticism, with Cinema Notebooks in front, choosing Laura (1944), with lossby Billy Wilder and The woman in the paintingby Fritz Lang, as a pioneering work in cinema noir. Undoubtedly, this selection as the founding milestone of the genre contributed to the rise of the film and its director; but the truth is that Laura It is not, even remotely, a movie. noir: neither in its plot, nor in its atmosphere (there is no seething evil in it, nor sad despair, nor in disorder) nor in its formal treatment. Laura is a whodunit in a book (in the purest style of SS Van Dine or Agatha Christie), benefited from the famous plot twist that happened in the middle of the film (but, in fact, almost all of whodunits include tricks and ‘surprises’ of this kind); and sublimated by a mesmerizing melody by David Raskin and the presence of a celluloid goddess, of unspeakable beauty and debatable acting skills, the incomparable Gene Tierney, who fills every shot in which he appears in a light that is not of this world, because it is inaccessible and because it is attractive. But only a mediocre director like Preminger would get as little benefit from the appearance of a revived Gene Tierney as Preminger did in Laura. Can you imagine the sequence filmed by Alfred Hitchcock?
Otto Preminger has reached the rank of unworthy of cinephile consideration. But saying that might raise the suspicions of the tartufos of political correctness, since he is Ukrainian and Jewish!
all in Laura It’s a little crude and rushed, like a horse shot. In Preminger’s defense it could be argued that, in principle, Laura It should have been directed by Rouben Mamoulian, whose career was beginning to decline at the time; and that Mamoulian soon fell out with Preminger, with Darryl F. Zanuck entrusted with production duties. When it was found that the conflicts between Mamoulian and Preminger were bitter, the filming was ordered by the applicant, to the detriment of the old glory.
In his autobiography, Preminger states that he did not use a single shot of the material shot by Mamoulian; but José Luis Garci, in his inevitable vademecum Noir, maintains that Mamoulian swore to him over a dry Martini that the film’s opening sequence, with Waldo Lidecker writing in the bathtub, was preserved perfectly as he conceived and shot it. Without arguing, we have to admit that this sequence is the best in the film; and that, of course, seems to have been shot by a different person than the failed ending, or the cornball ‘resurrection’ of Gene Tierney.
In its intermediate section, Laura made abusive use of long shots, in which Preminger placed many people, following the use of whodunit (where, inevitably, there must be several sequences in which the suspects appear together) and, also, in the B series, which require short shots and keeping the composition of the shot and lighting. Some characters are stereotyped and straightforward, such as Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price), a playboy as brainless as he is a careerist; others, stereotyped and flat, like the protagonist Mark McPherson, a policeman who plays with the usual supposedly mysterious stiffness typical of Dana Andrews; and others, finally, stereotyped and succulent, like Waldo Lidecker, a sarcastic and bitter, destructive and rude writer, who “did not write with a fountain pen, but with goose quills dipped in poison” and who sublimated his homosexuality by trying monopoly Laurarevived by one Clifton Webb in a state of grace.
And on LauraWell, Gene Tierney worked, who may be a sphinx without secrets, but is undoubtedly the most beautiful actress in the history of cinema. And his presence alone is enough to make even the most brutal Preminger beautiful.