Laura Literary Elements

Laura Literary Elements


Otto Preminger

Leading Actors/Actresses

Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews

Supporting Actors/Actresses

Clifton Webb, Vincent Price, Judith Anderson


Film Noir/Murder mystery




Academy Awards: Joseph LaShelle, Best Black and White Cinematography. American Film Institute (AFI) 100 Years, 100 Movies: Original Score--#7, Most Thrilling Movies--#73

Date of Release

November 1944


Otto Preminger

Setting and Context

The upper class of New York City, mid-1940's

Narrator and Point of View

Waldo Lydecker provides voice-over narration, but the movie’s point of view is actually from the perspective from Det. Mark McPherson. The essential element of the movie’s POV is that the McPherson—and by extension, the audience—only knows information about the title character based on subjective flashbacks from the other characters for half the film.

Tone and Mood

The tone and mood of is one deep and persistent irony. It is a film noir that takes place mostly during the day in brightly lit upscale apartments and office buildings. It is a film in which the main character is presumed dead for half the film only to be revealed as very much alive. It is a film narrated by a character who is killed at the end.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Protagonist: Det. Mark McPherson. Antagonist: Waldo Lydecker and Shelby Carpenter

Major Conflict

The major conflict is between Det. McPherson and Waldo Lydecker primarily on the basis of the difference in class between the two men and the presumption of superiority by Lydecker rather than on anything related to the murder investigation.


The climax of the film occurs when the identity of the murderer of is revealed as the result of a second attempt to kill Laura after the first resulted with the murder of an innocent victim due to mistaken identity.


Less than two minutes into the film, the clock in which the murder weapon was hidden and the fact that only two such clocks are in existence—one in the murderer’s apartment and the other in Laura’s apartment—is about as daring an example of foreshadowing as there exists in Hollywood murder mysteries.


In suggesting that he join along with Det. McPherson as he conducts interviews with suspects in Laura’s murder, Waldo Lydecker says “Murder is my favorite crime.” His intended meaning is as a topic for his column, but the understated truth is that he actually is the guilty suspect in the case of the very murder that McPherson is investigating.

Innovations in Filming or Lighting or Camera Techniques

The voice-over narration is provided by the character who turns out to be not only the guilty party, but dead. No other major Hollywood drama had been narrated by a dead character previous to Laura and no other major Hollywood drama would attempt it again until Sunset Boulevard in 1950, but in that case, the audience knew the character was dead from the beginning.


The character of Waldo Lydecker features several allusions that indicate his character was based on real-life columnist, critic and member of the Algonquin Roundtable, Alexander Woolcott.


The murder of Laura Hunt turns out to be a crime of passion in which the killer and intended victim neither express or demonstrate any sexual desire for the other and in which the killer driven by passion to keep the victim from being taken by other men does not even recognize that the actual person he kills is not the object of his consuming passion.



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