Laura

This new print of Otto Preminger's 1944 Laura likely means Fox is preparing a fresh addition to its big shelf of classic noirs on DVD. Yet the film is really an outlier to the genre, and Preminger (Porgy and Bess, Anatomy of a Murder, etc.) was more of a project director, a sophisticated prewar Austrian Jewish immigrant with a salesman's eye for the topical, the political, and the scandalous. The original 1942 magazine detective serial by Vera Caspary offered such tabloid titillation: Her heroine is a beautiful career gal juggling three different men. At first, she's the front-page murder victim; then, in one of the '40s biggest gasps, Laura (Gene Tierney) returns from the dead to enchant the cop on the case (the stolid Dana Andrews) but also be named a suspect in the shotgun killing. Caspary originally split the narration among all the key players, but Preminger only makes us privy to the supercilious thoughts of haughty gossip columnist Waldo Lydecker (the supremely arch Clifton Webb) who purrs, "In my case, self-absorption is completely justified." Andrews' cop is just a regular fella, but Lydecker, Laura, and her Southern gigolo fiancee (Vincent Price) are from a skyscraper elite of corruption, cocktails before noon, and (implicitly) loose sexual morals. Roughly a decade before the Mad Men era, Preminger can't actually say that Laura slept her way into an advertising career, but Lydecker's creepy possessiveness carries the waft of very expensive, scented bedsheets. NOTE: no early show Tues. (NR) BRIAN MILLER

April 6-12, 7 & 9 p.m., 2012

 
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