If I Can’t Have It, Nobody Can: The Most Important Scene in Laura

Laura begins with the narration of Waldo Lydecker,  a well known New York based columnist who introduces the reader to the story through his point of view. He lacks emotion and seems to exude an eerie feeling, especially with his fascination of murder. However, there is no scene in the book that better encapsulates Waldo’s true personality than his interaction with Mr. Claudius in his antique shop. After dining with Detective McPherson, Lydecker forces them to stop on their way home as something in Mr. Claudius’ shop catches his eye. He sees a mercury glass vase, which he wishes for himself. After finding out Claudius has it in stock for Philip Anthony, he “accidentally” destroys the vase (Caspary 104).

A mercury glass vase, which could be similar to the one Lydecker destroyed (Depositphotos, Inc).

 

While the destruction of the vase itself is not critical to the plot of the story, it foreshadows a very ominous trait of Lydecker: he believes if he does not have a right to anything he wants, nobody does. While Lydecker seems suspicious up to a point for the duration of the novel, many of his actions could be chalked up to his jealousy, but not to the extent of murder. The interaction between Claudius and Lydecker is critical to showing the viewer there is something amiss with him. In fact, in the 1944 adaptation, without this scene, the trail that leads McPherson to Lydecker seems weak, almost as if there was a critical piece of information missing. This association in the mind of the viewer is better reinforced by the vase symbolizing Laura, as she seems perfect on the outside, but is empty on the inside. Lydecker breaks the vase to ensure his enemy cannot have it, just as he tried to murder Laura to deprive Shelby of marrying her.

Filming this scene just as in the book would be most effective. Starting with a medium shot of the store, the conversation between Lydecker and Claudius would enable a build up to the climax of this scene. Just before Lydecker breaks the vase, cutting to McPherson and showing his surprise to the occurrence inside the shop would highlight how absurd his actions were, and showing Lydecker’s satisfaction in the form of a smirk as he entered the car, from the point of view over McPherson’s shoulder, would cement the idea of Lydecker not being a character to trust in the story.

The most satisfying stories are one where the the story line seems to make sense. While plot twists are welcome additions and often enhance a plot, if events in a story seem completely random, it can be difficult to understand the movie, which would end up ruining the experience for movie-goers. By embedding subtle character traits that make motivations clear, especially after the mystery is unraveled, the audience would have a much more fulfilling experience overall. Without this scene to show an example of Lydecker’s motivation for attempting to kill Laura, the satisfaction expected might not be present at the end of the movie.

 

Bibliography

Caspary, Vera. Laura. Vera Caspary, 1942.

Depositphotos, Inc. “Empty Silver Mercury Glass Vase.” Depositphotos, Depositphotos, depositphotos.com/103629042/stock-photo-empty-silver-mercury-glass-vase.html.

 

“If I Can’t Have Her, No One Can” -Waldo Lydecker

It is difficult to determine a singular scene from Vera Caspary’s Laura that must be included in a film adaptation of the story, as so many are important in maintaining the story’s integrity. However, it would be a mistake to exclude the novel’s dramatic introduction, written by none other than Waldo Lydecker. The scene that stands out from Waldo’s perspective is his first encounter with Mark McPherson, as many important details can be found within the exchange.

In the novel, Waldo’s elaborate, arrogant narration is the perfect introduction to the character that we will later come to know as the tortured antagonist who attempted to murder Laura Hunt. Much of what we learn about Waldo we gather from the novel’s first part, written from his pretentious perspective. His ego is evident in the sophistication of his diction, while he uses the narrative in order to brag about his relationship with Laura’s titular character to McPherson.

The scene introduces several themes that become central to the novel, the most prominent of those being the ugly nature of jealousy. Waldo’s jealousy is developed more thoroughly throughout the novel, but it can be detected from the very beginning in the possessive way that he discusses Laura with McPherson. Waldo’s jealousy can translate to the screen easily by mirroring his possessive claim over Laura with the possessive way he treats his antiques. Technology could aid the characterization of Waldo by giving him a suspicious melodic theme and using close up shots of his face. Additionally, it would be interesting to apply different filters to the movie or film through different lenses, depending on the corresponding character’s perspective. Waldo’s scenes would likely be filmed in a washed out filter with muted color.

This version of the scene would ensure the film’s success, as there would be tons of foreshadowing. A cult-following of fans would rewatch the movie relentlessly, analyzing every stylistic decision of the opening scene that implicated Waldo’s criminal nature. Personally, I believe this is the approach that will make Laura sell. The mystery aspect of the murder mystery remains heightened, but upon second viewing, the audience can clearly see all of the signs they missed the first time. While this does deviate from Caspary’s more muted hints at the identity of the murderer, the movie is more likely to sell if the viewer feels that they are solving the mystery from the get-go.

I personally believe that many of the novel’s most engaging aspects revolve around Waldo Lydecker–the “pretentious writer” act, the symbolic vase, the disturbing “if I can’t have her, no one can” mindset, to name a few–and the movie would do good to focus on this ill-intentioned man. While Laura’s independence as a working woman without a husband certainly deserves to be developed and emphasized, her relationship with Waldo seems to be the heart of Caspary’s story. Ultimately, the singular scene that would most aid a film adaptation of Laura is the scene that introduces us to the catalyst behind the novel’s events, Waldo Lydecker.

 

Laura Hunt and Waldo Lydecker from the 1944 adaptation

Works Cited

Caspary, Vera. Laura. First Feminist Press, 2005.

Film, Classic. “Gene Tierney, Clifton Webb, ‘Laura,” 1944.” Flickr, 23 Apr. 2016, www.flickr.com/photos/29069717@N02/26506481212.

Laura’s Return: The Critical Inflection Point for a Movie Adaptation of Laura

Dear Production Team,

Upon first glance the novel Laura might seem particularly difficult to adapt into a successful movie. Its plot is intricate and at times slow, which doesn’t bode well for the large audience that you wish to attract. Furthermore, the book changes perspectives many times, which is not reproducible in a film adaptation. I believe that the story can be adapted into a successful film. However, I also think that it is critical that you include the scene where Laura returns to her apartment to find Mark McPherson sleeping on the couch.

This scene, of course, has a major impact on the plot of the novel. It reveals that Laura is still alive and that the story is really a mystery of the murder of Diane Redfern, Shelby’s mistress. This scene also reveals that Shelby was cheating on Laura right before they planned to get married. Above all else, this scene redefines both the audience and the other characters’ perception of Laura. She goes from a helpless victim to a potential suspect. She instantly becomes a much more complex character.

In this fitting cover for Laura, Laura looks at her slightly distorted reflection in the glass globe that Waldo gave to her (“Laura: Vera Caspary”).

When Laura returns, she ceases being an idea that Mark is in love with and becomes a real person, which is quite the quick transition. It is imperative that Laura is portrayed as beautiful in this scene, because Mark is instantly in awe of her beauty. I think that it is also important that the events directly following the initial meeting are portrayed similar to how they are in the book. This is because they reveal so much about Mark and Laura’s characters and states of mind. Mark is conflicted – on the one hand, he is clearly in love with Laura, but on the other hand, she seems to be a prime suspect. Laura is confused but powerful, and she knows it – she protects Shelby despite knowing that he cheated on her.

This scene can also be used to instantly present Laura as the femme fatale character. She is at first confused, but she is fully aware of her power due to her attractiveness, telling Mark to leave or else she will call the police. This power should be carried throughout the rest of the film. The plot shifts from trying to determine what’s up with the murder to trying to determine what’s up with Laura (which in turn leads to the murder). I also think that you should keep Laura’s portrayal as a “career girl” as this furthers the image of her as an ambitious and powerful woman.

Additionally, you are so able, I believe that this scene and film could particularly benefit from one of the recently popularized color film technologies, such as Technicolor or Agfacolor (“Color Motion Picture Film”). The film The Maltese Falcon, which I’m sure you’ve seen, has been loved by audiences and critics both. The Variety praised the film for its “melodrama” and “voltage” in their review of the film (“The Maltese Falcon”). I think that we can surpass this melodramatic atmosphere by leveraging the creative potential that color film can provide us. Color film allows for contrast especially in the mood of shots. By leveraging saturated and unsaturated colors and lightness and dark, we can convey feelings to the audience. For example, in the scene where Laura returns I think that by dressing Laura in colorful cloths and changing the main colors and lighting, you can highlight Laura but also highlight the dramatic change caused by Laura’s return. I know that this is a significant investment for you, but I believe that it will reward you significantly in the artistic depth that it provides.

Sincerely,

Writer

 

Works Cited

Caspary, Vera. Laura. Alianza Editorial, 2016.

“Color Motion Picture Film.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 5 Sept. 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_motion_picture_film.

“Laura: Vera Caspary.” Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/LAURA-Vera-Caspary/dp/B0000BH2YJ.

“The Maltese Falcon.” Variety, Variety, 30 Sept. 1941, https://variety.com/1941/film/reviews/the-maltese-falcon-2-1200413694/.

 

Laura: Jealousy Upon Deception

Laura film poster

Much of the novel Laura focuses on three different characters, Laura, Mark, and Shelby. Although these three characters are an essential part of the development of the novel’s plot, I believe that Waldo Lydecker’s character, a renowned newspaper columnist, holds a special role within the novel. He was the murderer after all. His motive was jealousy, and his jealousy was masked upon deception.

There were many scenes that exhibit Waldo’s jealousy, including the scene where Waldo accuses Mark of falling in love with a dead girl. However, there is one particular scene that I believe not only portrays Waldo’s jealousy extremely well but also is critical for the development of the novel’s backstory: the scene where Waldo tells Laura that Shelby is having an affair with Diane Redfern.

This scene is important because it portrays Waldo’s jealousy and how he uses deception to mask it. Although it is implied that he is homosexual, Waldo clearly becomes romantically attached to Laura and becomes jealous of those who would interfere with their relationship, including Shelby. And this jealousy is what caused him to become involved with Shelby’s and Laura’s engagement in the first place. It’s what persuaded him to reveal to Laura the infidelity of Shelby. He even goes to the extent of finding the golden cigarette case that Laura gifted to Shelby as proof of Shelby’s infidelity. He tries to manipulate Laura into leaving Shelby for him, no matter how much this information could hurt Laura, and deceives her by acting like a guide, acting like he is trying to save her from finding out the hard way when in reality, he only tells her this to get a footing on her. This sets up the theme of how jealousy is a dangerous psychological manipulator and how it can make someone do rash things. In the case of Waldo, it was the sole reason that caused him to follow through with his murder plan. This jealousy further sets up Waldo’s motive for murder. Waldo, to some extent, can be compared to Othello in that both characters act solely out of jealousy. The idea of “if I can’t have her, then no one can” becomes ingrained in his head and gives him a reason to murder her (well, try and murder her). This fact is crucial because it sets up the plot for the entire novel. It is the impetus for getting the plot of the novel in motion.

An adaptation of this scene would be filmed in two distinct parts. The first focuses on the dialogue exchanged between Laura and Waldo when he initially tells her that Shelby is cheating on her with Diane. This part of the scene should focus on two different things that will make the scene more effective: the lightheartedness of Laura when she receives the news and the seriousness of Waldo. The seriousness of Waldo gives the impression that he is trying to deceive Laura by again, trying to help her even though his real motive is to get her to call off her engagement with Shelby. The lightheartedness of Laura will set up for the next part of the scene. The second part of the scene focuses on both the reaction of Laura when she is shown the golden cigarette case and the reaction of Waldo to her reaction. When she is shown the cigarette case, Laura’s reaction in this part will shift from lightheartedness to blankness. This contrast emphasizes the shift of her opinion of Shelby and her reconsideration of their engagement. Waldo’s reaction will be happy (like a villain’s smile), seeing that he got in Laura’s head. The focus of this scene must be their facial expressions, and to do so, various film technologies must be implemented. Full facial shots must be used to capture the full emotions of their faces. Sound effects, using the contrast between lighthearted music to darker music, should also be implemented within the scene to emphasize the shift.

Incorporating this scene within the movie is critical for the film’s success. The fact these film techniques will be used in the scene allows it to not only highlight the theme of jealousy and deception but also set up the plot for the entire movie. In doing so, the film will be much more successful, as it will allow the audience to sympathize with Laura and show hatred for Waldo.

 

Works Cited

Caspary, Vera. Laura: Vera Caspary. Pan-Books, 1948.

“Laura (Novel).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Oct. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laura_(novel).

Putnam, Jennifer. Jealousy in Othello. https://www.lagrange.edu/resources/pdf/citations08/JEALOUSYINOTHELLO.pdf.

The First Encounter Between Detective Mark McPherson and Miss Laura Hunt: The Scene That Started It All

I believe the most important scene in the novel Laura by Vera Caspary is the scene when Laura reenters her apartment and finds Detective Mark McPherson asleep on her couch. This one event is the turning point of the story and sets the stage for the entire rest of the book. It also allows Caspary to develop the characters in new and interesting ways.

First of all, this scene is something we might call a major plot twist. After this night, everything changes. Laura’s reappearance changes the story from a search for Laura’s murderer to the search for Diane Redfern’s murderer with Laura as the prime suspect. Laura remains a main character, but with her image completely changed from the obvious victim to a possible perpetrator. It also illuminates facts about Shelby’s cheating just days before his marriage to Laura. The entire mystery premise changes, and now new thoughts must be made about the characters in the story. Perhaps, some confusing and/or contradicting ideas will start to make sense with this newfound information. 

This meeting is also shapes the romance between Laura and Mark. Mark had spent days on end learning about who Laura was in order to help solve the case. He read her works and her diary. He listened to stories about her from Waldo, Shelby, Bessie, and other friends of Laura. He dug into Laura’s past to find out who she was to the people around her. What he gathered was that Laura was a fine girl who was loved by everyone and who loved others openly, freely, and wholeheartedly. And Mark fell in love with Laura. No–Mark fell in love with the idea of Laura. However, when Laura returns to the story as a real person, Mark is able to really fall in love with her and not just the idea of her. That first night of quiet and honest conversation sparks Mark’s trust in Laura. It is probably the point at which he decides that this woman could not have murdered someone. This love story also triggers another conflict in the story: Mark now has to battle between his instinct and the hard facts. The evidence all point to Laura, but his instinct tells him that Laura did not commit the crime. Is it not the job of a detective to use evidence and only evidence to prove/disprove cases? “Instinct” should not influence his judgment, especially not when the “instinct” is very likely to be a result of his love for one of the suspects.

Since Mark is the first one to encounter Laura while she is alive, it gives him a chance to do many things that all contribute to the plot of the story. For one, he is able to analyze the reactions from people when they first find out that Laura is still alive. Perhaps Waldo’s genuine shock at seeing Laura alive makes him less of a suspect (and we begin to trust him a little more); Caspary made the story play out this way so that the readers would be more curious as to how the crime was committed and who committed it. (I know I was definitely curious because I originally suspected Waldo, but his genuine surprise threw me off.) This encounter also allows Mark to ask Laura not to contact Shelby, a request that Laura does not listen to when she calls Shelby the next day. She  protects Shelby even though she knows Shelby cheated on her. This whole dynamic builds Laura’s character as one that is less confident and put together than others (and especially Waldo) seem to think she is or at least make her out to be. She is not just some pretty, hollow vase like a work of art to be showcased. In reality, she is a mess of emotions, of fear and confusion; in reality, she is full of flaws. But that is a good thing. She is not perfect, but she is a real person, and that is much, much more important.

This scene effectively demonstrates themes of love, trust, and betrayal. Perhaps it’s easiest to trust when you are in a vulnerable state (as when Mark and Laura first meet). Perhaps it’s hard to love again and trust again after you’ve been betrayed, or perhaps it’s hard to let go of your past love (Laura turned to Shelby against Mark’s wishes; she doesn’t know if she should trust Mark). And perhaps in the end, love really does conquer all (Mark’s love for Laura, which begins in this scene, allows him to trust her and discover the truth). 

I have a few ideas for how this scene should be made in a film adaptation in order for it to really portray everything that the scene in the novel does. Obviously, the initial meeting would be dramatic and shocking–the entire plot just changed after all. But I imagine more emphasis on their long and sweet conversation that night. I want that scene to look very…warm. What I mean by that is I want to feel the young love and new trust in the air between Laura and Mark. Perhaps gentle lighting will create this kind of atmosphere. The music choice is also really important. It needs to feel relaxing yet moving, soothing yet a little exciting. It will start off more tentative, a little nervous, and shy almost, as the two first start talking; it will turn into something more calm as the two begin to feel comfortable around one another; and finally it will pick up pace a little as the excitement and giddiness of new and young love bubble up inside the two of them.

Since this scene is so crucial to the entire story in Laura, getting it right will set the stage for the success of the entire film adaptation. The trust that Mark has in Laura enables him to discover the truth about the murder instead of just arresting Laura based on circumstantial evidence. The main characters are all significantly developed as a result of the events in this scene and give the story much more depth as the novel/film goes on. We are really allowed to finally pick our sides and battle it out until the end, where we discover the truth behind the murder that sparked this whole story in the first place.

 

Scene where Detective Mark McPherson first discovers that Laura is still alive. 

(From Preminger’s 1944 Laura adaptation)

 

Watch the adaptation of Laura by Otto Preminger here.

 

Works Cited

Caspary, Vera. Laura. New York City, Feminist Press, 2005. 

Jagernauth, Kevin. “Watch: Otto Preminger’s Film Noir Classic ‘Laura’ In Full; James Ellroy Penning Remake.” IndieWire, 14 Aug. 2014, https://www.indiewire.com/ 2014/08/watch-otto-premingers-film-noir-classic-laura-in-full-james-ellroy-penning-remake-273168.

Production Notes: Laura

Production Team of Laura,

I would like to sincerely thank you for tasking me to adapt such an exciting novel into your next blockbuster film. My adaptation is nearly finished, but I did want to provide some artistic direction before production.

The most important scene in my adaptation, aside from the murder scene and climax of the story of course, is the dinner at Montagnino’s between Waldo Lydecker and Detective Mark McPherson. It would be very shameful if this scene were left out, as it provides so many instances to enhance our film!

Continue reading “Production Notes: Laura”

Laura Hunt; Serving You Femme Fatale Realness Upon Entry

Laura; a pulp fiction novel based around the femme fatale main character, a question of who killed her fiance’s mistress, and a blossoming love in the midst of it all. This novel features an endless list of dramatic twists, that are articulated so uniquely by Vera Caspary. Changing the narrator at the start of each new part of the book, allowed for more description and interior knowledge of each of the main characters; Waldo, Marc, Shelby, and Laura. Within the sections of the book, so many important details that pertain to the crime are said, and potential clues are uncovered to discern who really killed Diane Redfern, Shelby’s mistress. Choosing which scenes to show in a movie leads to a lot of potential inferring for the audience, or having the story become less complex, due to keeping the length of a movie reasonable. 

Due to the fact that this novel was labeled, “Femmes Fatale”, an important aspect of this book that I would highlight in my film adaptation of it, is how much Laura represents the femme fatale persona. She is a seductive, stunning woman who causes controversy by being just herself. This book is based around the murder that was supposed to be her, which involves a male detective, her fiance, and her old male friend. For the detective, her alleged charm, looks, and talked about personality all brought the forces together for him to fall in love with her, before he even knew she was alive. After Laura’s death was found to actually not be hers, Marc Mcpherson’s love for her grew exponentially. Laura’s fiance, Shelby, although a cheating and lying asshole, proved to be taken by her as well, when he spoke countless lies regarding details of importance about the murder in order to protect Laura, whom he presumed to have tried to kill Diane. Last, Waldo, Laura’s oldest friend, was literally driven to murder because he could not handle anyone else being with her, and enjoying her. He tried to kill Laura twice, and ended up killing another woman in the pathway to it. 

With knowing how important Laura’s femme fatale persona really is to the whole basis of the plot, the scene that would be the most important in my film adaptation, would be when Laura makes her first appearance, as a woman who is alive. The night she finds Marc Mcpherson in her apartment, drunk, is the most pivotal moment in the whole book, to me, because it is the moment Laura has really arrived, full and center, and Marc is in utter shock, by her. I would bring out all of the bells and whistles to make her look angelic, important, and shocking. Her appearance in the movie needs to involve all lights on her, leaving Mcpherson drooling in the background– captivated by her feminine power. 

For the rest of this movie, you get the impression of Laura, as she first appeared on the screen, pure, lethal, beauty and brains, all from the opening shot of her looking at Marc, telling him he better leave or she will call the police. This scene announces Laura for who she is, and shows the audience how much power she possesses. All of the lights will be shining on her, she will be in the most lavish outfit, looking absolutely stunning. It will be an “aha” moment for the film, with proper dramatic music playing in the background. This scene will jump out at audiences, because it does not only empower the feminine energy one can have, but it gives them a light to look on, and see how forceful a woman is. My adaptation is for the empowerment of women, and with a femme fatale like Laura, and this scene, I will be doing just that. 

My film adaptation will be successful because the energy of a femme fatale is something that audiences love to see, in all time periods. The adaptation will prove how lethal Laura’s personality, looks, and attitude is, and not just show her as a hollow, character, who’s just simply pretty. In the 1944 adaptation, Laura, played by Gene Tierney was well executed, but I was wanting more of a powerful woman, not just a frightful, character, who really did exude beauty. My adaptation will focus more on her strength and cunning attitude, and will capture the initial shock of her being her, with scene of her coming back alive.

Gene Tierney as she played Laura Hunt in the 1944 film adaptation (https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000074/?ref_=tt_cl_t1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited 

Caspary, and Vera. “AbeBooks.” Books, Houghton Mifflin, New York, 1 Jan. 1970, https://www.abebooks.com/signed-first-edition/LAURA-Vera-Caspary-Houghton-Mifflin-New/899906107/bd.

“Gene Tierney.” IMDb, IMDb.com, https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000074/?ref_=tt_cl_t1.

Haubrich, Wess. “The Femme Fatale: the Archetype and Character over the Years.” Medium, Medium, 17 June 2018, https://medium.com/@HaubrichNoir/on-the-femme-fatale-where-did-she-come-from-where-is-she-going-1fe271defd2d.

“Laura”: Twisted Story of Love and Murder

Dear Lovely Producers,

First and foremost, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to adapt the novel Laura into a live-action movie. I wanted to let you all know that the storytelling for Laura is a bit different than most novels, as it is told from the perspective of multiple characters within the novel who are aware that the story shifts perspective and writing style from the previous point of view to the next. All of these various point of views are split into parts, telling the combined story of one Laura Hunt, a victim of a murder case having to do with a gunshot to the face. Picking out an extremely important scene in this rollercoaster-thriller of a novel is going to be picky, however I believe I have the one.

Image result for laura vera caspary original cover

Cover of novel

image from Wikipedia

One of, if not the most, important scenes in the novel that MUST be adapted into the film is the scene when McPherson first meets the real Laura Hunt at her apartment after his night at Montagnino’s back yard. In the novel, this is the first major plot twist that shakes the plot of the entire story. Quite literally, in fact, that the moment McPherson realizes who is in front of him is described as a supernatural or dramatic moment combined with the lightning and thunder effects in the background.

This scene matter SO MUCH because everything prior this scene (about a third of the novel), is all written by Waldo on the basis that Laura Hunt is the victim. Furthermore, the identification of the real victim as Laura Hunt by her aunt proves more that Vera Caspary wanted to “hammer home” to the audience that Laura is indeed the one who is dead. This builds up this sudden moment of realization for both the audience and the characters inside the novel when they realize the title character is still alive. It connects the audience emotionally to McPherson in this particular scene as both are going through an emotional rollercoaster.  Moreover, I believe this scene to be the single most important scene in the novel as it shifts the whole problem and cleans the suspect board clean, giving rise to a new focus for the police. Who is the real victim? What has Laura Hunt been doing? These questions only motivate the audience to read, or in the movie’s case, watch further for the enticing conclusion.

This scene, along with being a pivotal point in the story, also demonstrates themes of crime novels such as the relationship between motive and murder. The revelation of Laura to be alive begs the question, who did the murderer really want to kill? This starts two tangent lines of investigation, one being if Diane Redfern (the next logical victim who was in the apartment during Laura’s absence) is the true target, or if the killer did not know Laura and simply was assigned to kill her. This motive factor leads the audience on to stay and watch, as naturally the curiosity of finding the identity of the killer is what will drive movie sales.

To transfer this scene from novel pages to the big screen, I plan on using film technology such as reverse angle editing, flashy lighting, and dramatic sounds. In my mind, this scene strikes the most impact with audiences if the weather reflects the mood of the scene. Inside Laura’s apartment, the scene will initially focus on McPherson sleeping on the long chair, which then will cut to pointing towards the front door from McPherson’s perspective with lightning and loud thunder sound effects in the background. As the lightning strikes, there is a close-up shot of Laura standing slightly in front of and to the side of her portrait on the wall. This gives McPherson the realization and the reverse angle editing adds the emotional aspect, such as when Laura and McPherson said

“‘I’ll call the police.’ ‘I am the police,’ I said.’” (Caspary, 133)

as both of the have a conversation about how she is still alive. Attached is a link for the full novel, please give it a read to see the details I want to present on the big screen!

 

Works Cited:

Caspary, Vera. Laura. Pan-Books, 1948.

“Laura by Vera Caspary.” Edited by Sarah Weinman, Women Crime Writers of the 1940s and 50s, http://womencrime.loa.org/?page_id=84.

 

 

 

 

 

A Collector’s Vase and a Muzzle-Loader

          One of the most crucial, and easily overlooked, scenes from Laura is the scene in which Waldo Lydecker and Mark McPherson are in Mr. Claudius’ antique shop. Waldo and Mark are driving back from eating dinner together and Waldo spots a vase in the store window that is similar to the one he has at home. He immediately goes inside and asks to buy the vase, only to be told that has already been sold. This greatly upsets Waldo, and he “accidently” smashes the vase on the floor, much to his own satisfaction and Claudius’ dismay. While Waldo and Claudius are discussing the vase, Mark is perusing the store, looking at several items including a “muzzle-loader that must have been a relic when Abe Lincoln was a boy” (104).

Image result for smashing vase
Katya Malakhova “Smashing Vase”

            Although this scene seems largely inconsequential at its point in the narrative, its importance is revealed later on when Mark realizes that Waldo was the murderer. This scene is important in developing Waldo’s character because it shows that he will destroy something if he cannot have it for himself. In this case, he smashes the vase because he cannot add it to his collection; later in the story Mark recognizes that Waldo wanted to destroy Laura because she did not love him, and Waldo could not add her to his collection.

            Another important detail in the scene that adds some foreshadowing is the muzzle-loader that Mark picks up in the shop. Before going to the antique store, while the duo is still at the restaurant, Mark picks up Waldo’s cane and begins to inspect if before Waldo quickly snatches it away. It is later revealed in the book that the cane was in fact a muzzle-loading shotgun that Waldo used to kill Diane and attempted to use to kill Laura. Although it seems like a minor detail, Mark’s inspection of the muzzle-loader shortly after his inspection of the cane serves as parallelism that is used to foreshadow the revelation that Waldo’s cane is a gun and Waldo is the murderer.

            This scene demonstrates the theme that the possessive nature of humans can drive one to destruction if taken too far. This is shown in Waldo’s desire to expand his collection and possess more things than his competitors, which drives him to destroy the vase in an outburst of “If I can’t have it then no one can” sentiment. In a film adaptation, this can be demonstrated by using several very close shots of Waldo’s face intercut with a medium shot of Claudius talking to Waldo about the vase. The medium shot will show Waldo’s hands twitching slightly towards the vase, and the close shots will show his emotional reaction to what Claudius is telling him accompanied by a voice-over of Claudius’ words that has been amplified and echoed to demonstrate the emotional impact that Waldo is experiencing. The speed of the intercuts and the volume of Claudius’s voice-over will increase until it reaches a climax and Waldo smashes the vase. Mark will then quietly look up and put down the muzzle loader as the scene fades to black. In this way, film technology is used to build emotional tension and emphasis the destructive act that Waldo commits as a result of his desire.

            This version of the scene will ensure the film’s success because it emphasizes this aspect of Waldo’s character that is later revealed to have driven him to murder. People like murder mysteries when they do not figure it out right away, but easily understand the steps taken to solve the mystery once it is revealed to them. This scene will make very clear one key detail that helps solve the murder, while also quietly touching on another detail in a way that makes people think “Oh, I didn’t even notice that, but it makes so much sense.” Once people realize that the key detail was in front of them the whole time, they will be more likely to recommend the movie to friends to see if their friends figure it out.

Works Cited

Caspary, Vera. Laura. Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 2006.

Malakhova, Katya. “Smashing Vase (3) Painting.” Saatchi Art, www.saatchiart.com/art/Painting-Smashing-vase-3/82239/2842217/view.

 

Mushrooms, Murder, and Stewed Kidneys: The Most Important Scene in Laura (1943)

Laura Book Cover

Dear Movie Producers,

I would like to share with you the most important movie scene in all of Laura (1943) – the introduction scene in which Detective Mark McPherson interviews writer Waldo Lydecker. Other than its obvious plot importance in being the introduction of the entire movie, it serves the important thematic purpose of contrasting morbidity and normal life. In addition, it characterizes Waldo through his verbose narration style as well as introducing the motif of examining a character(Laura) through purely third-person accounts. Lastly, new film techniques such as voice overs can be used to add depth to flashback scenes during the interview.

The most important part of shooting this scene is to establish a mood of morbidity. While discussing the gruesome details of the murder, Waldo’s Philipino manservant, Roberto, had stewed a mix of “kidneys and mushroom in claret”(Caspary 12). During filming, the camera should linger on this shot of Roberto cooking as it’s a perfect example of the juxtaposition of death(bloody, roasting kidneys) and a commonplace scene(cooking a meal). The text itself emphasizes this contrast when Waldo states “In spite of deep suffering, I could not but enjoy the contrast between the young man’s appreciation of the meal and the morbid quality of his talk” (Caspary 12). The contrast between this morbidity and everyday life serves as an important theme later in the novel when Detective McPherson continues his extensive investigation on Laura’s gruesome murder, when in reality it’s just his everyday job. Lastly, setting an extremely dark mood early on helps to characterize Waldo, who clearly has some morbid and abnormal thoughts. Waldo states, “I closed my eyes as if she lay there on the Aubusson rug, as Bessie had discovered her, naked except for a blue silk taffeta robe and a pair of silver slippers”(Caspary 13).

Stewed Kidney and Mushroom

Waldo is further characterized in this scene in both his dialogue with McPherson and his personal thoughts. Whoever is playing Waldo should be well cast to give out his long, pretentious inner monologues in the form of voiceovers. In addition, it’s important that we film flashback scenes of Waldo’s memories of Laura to be spliced in later during editing, with Waldo narrating over the scenes. First, it draws in viewer attention because a dialogue-heavy interview gets boring as an introduction scene. Take for example a linked scene from True Detective (2014). In spite of the show’s interesting dialogue, the editor still decides to add in numerous relevant clips and images as their interview scene is simply so long. Secondly, it demonstrates one of the major ideas presented in the story: learning about and building a mental image of someone solely through outside sources, regardless of whether that image is similar to that person in real life. In this case, McPherson characterizes Laura through Waldo’s account of her, rather than through Laura directly. This continues throughout the film during McPherson’s investigation of Laura, until they finally meet in person.

In conclusion, I’m very excited to have the opportunity to work with you in adapting this story from novel to film. All that I hope is that you take the consideration to film the introduction scene in detail, as it’s vital to the rest of the film as a whole.

Citations:

Caspary, Vera. Laura: Vera Caspary. Pan-Books, 1948.

“True Detective.” True Detective, HBO, 12 Jan. 2014.

“Pork Kidney and Mushrooms Stew Recipe.” Chef DePaprika, 2 Feb. 2013, http://chefdepaprika.com/2013/02/pork-kidney-and-mushrooms-stew-recipe/.