With Laura being Vera Caspary’s most esteemed published novel, it is imperative that we place the utmost emphasis on perfecting its adaptation and properly conveying its inherent thematic messages. Published during the height of the second world war, Laura highlights many of the social and interpersonal stereotypes of the time. With many men off to support the U.S. war effort in Europe, a Mystery Scene article suggests that infidelity was likely common in the atmosphere and housewife affairs were rampant. Since Laura is filled with the drama between Laura, Waldo, Shelby, and Detective Mark McPherson, I suggest that the scene in which Laura comes back to her apartment to find Detective McPherson in her apartment to investigate her murder after she discovered Shelby’s affair with Diane Redfern.
Detective Mark McPherson as he suspiciously mills about Laura’s apartment in the 1944 film adaptation.
This scene depicts Laura, who is engaged to Shelby after splitting off from her ex-lover Waldo, strutting about her skyline office in absolute disbelief. After speaking with Mark, Laura realizes that she is believed to be murdered and dead by the public. She speaks with both Shelby and Waldo to handle her emotions, which are beginning to overflow even through her strong, independent nature. After she recedes to her apartment for the night, Laura hears her mother’s voice in her head, speaking of her utter desperation. This ironically presents Laura with an incoming headache, just as desperation did for her mother. Although she mills about in a bit of a frenzy before calming to a more depressive state, her cognizance of the issue shines through her temperament as she plans to visit her country home and officially decides to call off her marriage to Shelby once and for all.
The importance of the scene lies in the way that Laura reveals some of her flaws that take away from the audience’s view of her being a completely infallible, elaborate identity that comes along with her position as a premier New York advertiser. This scene must show Laura walking throughout her luxury apartment with the view of mansions in the background while talking about her immature feelings. This will powerfully contrast her seemingly desirable lifestyle with the romantic issues she is struggles with.
With one of the major themes of the film being the sophisticated nature of women, this scene directly contradicts all of the sophistication that Laura has accredited to her name until this point. She now appears as a beautiful, omniscient woman at the top of her field, who is continuously bogged down by her poor romantic choices. Her conversation with Shelby in this scene also reveals that she has compensated for the fact that she still had dinner with her ex-lover by allowing Shelby to cheat on her with Diane all this time. The differences in sexuality involved in their side affairs highlights the powerlessness Laura experiences in this situation.
This film adaptation can better communicate the major themes by including technicolor to better show Laura and her lovers’ emotions, Laura’s innate beauty, and the growing power held by the city of New York. Special effects would be most useful to portray the action scenes in which Diane is murdered and Waldo is killed in his second attempt to kill Laura. Finally, multiple camera angles and a rolling camera will better portray the emotions that Mark, Waldo, Shelby, and especially Laura show in this pivotal scene. Since this scene serves as a major turning point in the plot, its proper production will ensure the film’s success as it will form a lasting memory in the audience’s minds.
Cogdill, Oline. “Laura by Vera Caspary.” Mystery Scene, KBS Communications, https://www.mysteryscenemag.com/blog-article/2845-laura-by-vera-caspary.
Dirks, Tim. “Hollywood During the War Years.” Film History of the 1940s, https://www.filmsite.org/40sintro.html.
“Laura.” IMDb, IMDb.com, 15 Jan. 1945, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037008/.
Pierce, Kimberly. “Feminist Friday: Laura (1944).” Citizen Dame, 10 July 2018, https://citizendamepod.com/2018/07/13/feminist-friday-laura/.