Afterword by A. Emrys Laura was the ideal "modern woman" and the ultimate femme fatale. No man could resist her charms--not even the hardboiled NYPD detective sent to investigate her murder. This psychological thriller is as gripping and brilliantly constructed as the Preminger film. The first is Waldo Lydecker, Laura Hunt's mentor, the vain deliciously nasty newspaper columnist who narrates.
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Here, for example, is a good Caspary story. Late in , she was having dinner at the Stork Club when the director Otto Preminger walked in. The mix-up makes her a suspect in her own murder. He was big, too. Caspary was shorter, older, framed by a cloud of frizzy hair. But Caspary had, by then, been kicking around the movie business for a long time.
She used the generous screenplay payments to finance her novels. Conscious of what a struggle it could be, in the collaborative environment of the movie studios, to get a picture made, she made an impulsive decision to let the producers write their own script. She has to keep a gigolo. Caspary was appalled. But she had been on to something: the Laura whom Gene Tierney played was more remarkable for her gorgeousness than for her other charms. Born to bourgeois Jewish parents in Chicago in , she went out to work almost as soon as she turned eighteen and rarely stopped churning out copy from that day until she died.
There was no college and no finishing school, no slow courtship of traditional critical respect. She had to make a living, so she wrote. Her first jobs had her writing the materials for scam correspondence courses on everything from ballet to salesmanship to screenplay writing. Her politics, personal and otherwise, were all of the liberatory variety. One was a former boss, from an advertising agency where she was a copywriter. It was praised by a number of African-American newspapers, even as white papers mostly ignored the book.
She knows them far better than most white people get to know them. She wrote another that saw a housewife, in extremis, sell herself to bill collectors. The Caspary estate has made the memoir available as an e-book. But, at least on the page, Caspary had almost supernatural powers of bemusement; she turned her sorrows into triumphs.
She tried to ignore his resentment, and corrected people at parties who called her Mrs. For all that, something seems to have gotten lost when the author tried to channel her own spirit into Laura. The fictional character is less direct and less charismatic than her creator. He is not afraid to tell his readers that he hates mystery stories, finds them flat and unappealing. In the film, Lydecker is played by Clifton Webb, who was not obese, but otherwise fit the bill nicely.
Webb was also fairly openly gay, at least to those in the know in Hollywood. Actually, the recipe was not so simple. Caspary undoubtedly knew of him, as she knew other members of his set. But there is another source for the character. Caspary did not like murder mysteries herself, and she saw in them a structural flaw. Caspary and Preminger can be seen to occupy the roles of the characters she created. There she was, a capable woman of few artistic pretensions, trying to get ahead in the world.
By Joan Acocell a. Read More. A Critic at Larg e.
Laura is one of the most perfect movies ever made. A mystery over a murder, unrequited love and a twist at the end come together in this film , directed by Otto Preminger. It earned several Academy Award nominations. For those five people out there not familiar with this movie, the Laura of the title has been killed just inside the door to her apartment before the story begins. Laura Hunt was a successful advertising executive, much loved by the people in her life. McPherson learns who Laura was through her letters, diary and inner circle. As he discovers what made this woman so charismatic, he begins to fall in love with her.
The Secrets of Vera Caspary, the Woman Who Wrote "Laura"
Sara Paretsky. The life and desires of Laura Hunt are a reflection of those of her creator Vera Caspary. Like her heroine, Caspary carved a major professional life for herself at a time when it was both rare and hard for women to occupy that space. Coming of age at the end of the First World War, she moved to New York in and lived a Gatsby kind of life of wild parties she was thrown into a china closet during one of them and lovers. Caspary used many conventions of the femme fatale—Laura is beautiful, she rouses erotic feelings in the men who meet her. Laura is indeed a novel about desire and appetite, but the desire is only tangentially sexual. Many contemporary crime writers add meals to their novels for background or filler, but the meals in Laura serve a deliberate narrative purpose.