Bringing Laura to Life

In order to create a film adaptation of a movie, the moviemaking crew has to consider the many aspects that allow a written story to be represented in visual form. The difference between a book and a movie is that a book allows for much more imagination from the reader. On the other hand, movies portray everything for the viewer, and it is the moviemakers’ jobs to try to live up to everyone’s expectations about the novel turned film, including the novel’s author.

I think that this novel in particular is a difficult one to adapt into a film because it is in the genre of mystery. This requires great coordination with keeping secrets between characters on screen and playing with dramatic irony, etc. This being said, I think that one of the most important scenes in the book is when the characters find out that Laura is not the victim, but that she is very much alive. This is a crucial moment for obvious reasons, as it sets up the rest of the story by completely changing its direction. Without this scene, there would have to be a different way for the characters to find out that the real victim of the murder was Diane, and it seems strange for the plot to continue without the characters’ knowledge of Laura being alive. Also, in part three of the book, where the story continues through Laura’s perspective, we get a lot of information that serves a clues for the murder case. This would not be possible without having this scene preceding it. We also learn a lot about her relationships with other people, especially Waldo, so there is really no way to avoid this scene.

As for how this scene should be depicted, I believe that it requires a delicate touch with the back and forth reactions from both Laura and Detective McPherson, so that it can have the correct effect on the viewer. This scene was really fun for me to read because of the shock that Detective McPherson went through. If I were giving suggestions to the producers, directors, and editors of this scene, I would propose that lighting is one of the key cinematographic features. I imagine the scene to be dimly lit so as to create an atmosphere of mystery and a sort of eerie sensation at first. Maybe half lit faces would be a good idea. I also think that a combination of full body shots of Laura with extreme close ups of Detective McPherson are very important, and maybe some back and forth shots of the two characters as well.

For the acting part of the scene, the facial expressions on both characters have to be very intentional, as well. Because both characters are extremely surprised by what is happening in that moment, they both have surprised looks on their faces. However, the type of surprise is different for both of them. I think that, since the rest of the story is very serious and dramatic, this scene could be made to be a little humorous with the revelation of the big surprise. This will help lighten the mood for a second and could serve in the success of the film.

 

Below is a link that describes different types of shots in film and what effects they create for the viewer.

 

https://www.careersinfilm.com/types-of-shots-in-film/

 

Sources:

Contis, Eva. “Types of Shots in a Film: The First Tools to Building a Shot List.” Careers In Film: 

Film Schools & Colleges, 9 Oct. 2019, www.careersinfilm.com/types-of-shots-in-film/.

Myers, Scott. “Classic 40s Movie: ‘Laura.’” Medium, Go Into The Story, 28 Oct. 2016, 

gointothestory.blcklst.com/classic-40s-movie-laura-42e31a7aee44?gi=3acaabb3fd97.

“Laura by Vera Caspary.” Goodreads, Goodreads, 1 Oct. 2005, 

www.goodreads.com/book/show/601799.Laura.

Selling Laura: Merging Mystery and Romance

Vera Caspary’s 1943 novel, Laura, perfectly marries elements of murder mystery and romantic thriller. The story is broken up into five parts, with four different characters narrating each part: Laura Hunt, our woman of interest, comes back from the dead to become the main suspect of the New York’s murder of the year; Waldo Lydecker, an eccentric novelist, and groomer to Laura; Shelby Carpenter, the other man in Laura’s life and was soon to become her fiance; finally, Mark McPherson, our protagonist, the cunning and charming detective who clears Laura’s name. The changing point of view throughout the story captures the reader as the audience is forced to screen information and solve the mystery themselves. 

One scene that captures the essence of the novel is the fight scene between McPhearson and Waldo. The scene is imperative to the plot as it is the climax of the entire story. Detective McPhearson uses his romantic relationship with Laura to expose Waldo’s manic jealous personality, the two men break into a fight and Waldo goes on a shooting spree with the missing gun that he used to kill Diane Redfern. This downfall for Waldo is such a satisfying ending for the audience, as throughout the entire novel his perverted antics and suspicious character drives McPhearson to clear Laura’s name. 

 

Laura by Vera Caspary

Special attention to the cinematography and script of the adaptation would ensure this scene’s success in winning the audience over. Laura running into McPhearson’s arms sparking the flame in Waldo, could easily be depicted as a cliche scene. Breaking up the scene with a mix of tracking shots and over the shoulder shots would ensure a dynamic composition and not a sitcom-esque scene. As the camera follows Laura into McPhearson’s arms, the camera should zoom in on his calculating face. Slowly, the camera should shift the focus from the foreground of the two embracing and focus on Waldo, standing in the background directly behind McPhearson’s shoulders. This dramatic style of camera shots is inspired by Quentin Tarantino’s action-filled movies, which perfectly merges intense action shots without compromising emotional tension between characters. 

Further, Waldo’s downfall in this scene ties together many other elements of the plot. From waving his gun maniacally to being whisked away on the ambulance he insistently speaks in the third person, narrating his own downfall and exposing his mental degradation. This scene would highlight one of the most important themes of the novel– deception. Except for our hero McPhearson, every character’s intentions are unclear. Is Laura’s interest in McPherson genuine or for self-preservation? What is Shelby hiding from his past? And what is up with Waldo’s infatuation with collecting antiques and slight necrophilic thoughts?

All these questions are satisfyingly answered at the end of this fight scene between the two characters. Which is why it is so critical to include it in the final adaptation of the novel. Using various camera techniques and making sure the script is as natural as possible will ensure that the movie marries the murder mystery suspense with romantic thriller drama just as well as Vera Caspary did in the novel. 

 

Works Cited

Caspary, Vera. Laura: Vera Caspary. Pan-Books, 1948.“Quentin Tarantino.”

Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 1 Nov. 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quentin_Tarantino.

Laura: From Victim to Murder Suspect in a Flash, Literally.

Vera Caspary’s Laura, a pulp fiction novel, is a rather beguiling approach to presenting a homicide-investigation storyit is split into five different parts, with four dedicated to divulging the idiosyncratic perspectives and dispositions of Waldo Lydecker, Mark McPherson, Shelby Carpenter, and Laura Hunt. It is a thrilling fusion between the riveting, yet sophisticated realm of New York journalism and the full court press of a murder investigation, topped with a female lead who breaks and exceeds the norms of the “femme fatale” to reign control of her own life. 

Due to the novel’s intricacy and division of narration between these characters, it may be tough to craft an effective adaptation. However, with detailed scripting and innovatory direction and production, I truly believe we can make Laura a burgeoning success. With that being said, there is a specific scene that I think carries and represents the core of the entire plot: when Mark finds that Laura is indeed alive when she returns to her apartment from the country.

Related image
The cover for Laura, as originally published in 1943, showing her reflection as she looks deeply into the globe that was given to her by Waldo Lydecker.

This scene is a crucial component of the novel and is what essentially cements the remainder of the plot. We find out here that Laura is actually alive and that the one who was found dead that day was in fact Diane Redfern, the woman who had been romancing Laura’s fiancé Shelby. With Laura’s sudden reappearance, this situation turns her into an immediate suspect for the remainder of the book, which is also when we begin to see how her character unravels.

More importantly, this scene introduces two pivotal themes present from this point on in Laura—potential necrophilia and gender roles with regards to fantasy.

Laura begins as a fantasy with her true fleeting and enigmatic disposition. What both Mark and the readers know about Laura is solely what he finds from speaking to the ring of men that fluttered around her. Similarly, what these men know about Laura is the fantasy they have each constructed. Even when Laura comes back from the “dead”, everything about her is associated with the fantasy that Mark constructed from a corpse now alive. The true Laura is still a fantasy of how men in her life want her to be. The problem with Mark’s progressive sexual attraction to Laura, whom the world believes is dead, is that she’s very much alive. Thus, when she returns, he tries to dim his desire, although as we later come to find out, it never really went away.

Being a romantic suspense and murder mystery all in one, to accentuate and truly showcase the emotions, tension, and drama throughout the film, we should make use of some emerging film technologies to ensure the film’s success. These include using hard lighting such as carbon arcs, large incandescent bulbs in fresnel, and broad lights, and also employing camera techniques such as close, over-the-shoulder, and reverse shots. Although Technicolor could be used to produce colored frames, black and white nitrate film has speeds of 80 and 160ASA which is much faster.

Hard lighting is perfect for bringing that dramatic effect to the entire film. To focus on specific scenes, it would be ideal for creating shadows, silhouettes, and highlights, and it also draws attention to certain parts of the frame. Close up shots can be used as cutaways from a shot farther away to enhance detail, like characters’ emotions, or other intricate activities.

For instance, in the novel, Mark first sees Laura just as lightning strikes in the midst of a thunderstorm. To emphasize this scene, I believe we could use one of the lighting techniques mentioned above in order to create a brightening effect that would allow the lightning to act as if it were unveiling Laura’s silhouette. We could also take a close shot in that very moment as the lightning flashes and before it becomes dark again. These effects help reference and underline the transition of Laura’s status from that of a victim to a murder suspect.

All in all, I am confident that this film will be a blockbuster hit, especially if we include this scene, as it encompasses the soul of the original novel by Caspary. The film will also individually capture the unique personas, opinions and perspectives of each character, all while tooling it using stylistic camera and lighting techniques.

 

Works Cited

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

Caspary, and Vera. “AbeBooks.” Books, Houghton Mifflin, New York, 1 Jan. 1970, www.abebooks.com/signed-first-edition/LAURA-Caspary-Vera-Houghton-Mifflin-New/899906107/bd#&gid=1&pid=1.

The Complete Review – All Rights Reserved. “Laura by Vera Caspary.” Laura – Vera Caspary, www.complete-review.com/reviews/noir/caspary.htm.

Jagernauth, Kevin. “Watch: Otto Preminger’s Film Noir Classic ‘Laura’ In Full; James Ellroy Penning Remake.” IndieWire, 26 Aug. 2014, www.indiewire.com/2014/08/watch-otto-premingers-film-noir-classic-laura-in-full-james-ellroy-penning-remake-273168/.

Hellerman, Jason. “13 Film Lighting Techniques Every Filmmaker Should Know.” No Film School, 24 Oct. 2019, nofilmschool.com/film-lighting-techniques-and-examples.

“Close-Up.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 2 May 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Close-up#Practical_application.

Laura’s Stunning Revelation

With Vera Caspary’s novel Laura, we discover that characters have many sides to them. The detective Mark McPherson grills several suspects about their motives for committing murder on the aspiring model Diane Redfern, after initially believing that another woman, the beloved Laura Hunt, was the victim. As McPherson learns more about the case, it becomes more and more unclear who, exactly, committed the crime. First, there is Laura’s longtime friend Waldo Lydecker, who has an uncanny obsession for Laura and planned to dine with her on the night of her death. Then there is Shelby Carpenter, Laura’s submissive and naïve husband whose insecurities may have caused him to lash out. McPherson even insinuates at one point, that Laura’s maid was the perpetrator, though this idea is quickly shut down. The most intriguing suspect, however, is Laura Hunt herself. At first, no one expects this woman to have done anything. No one even expected her to still be alive. However, as more details emerge, the reader is captivated by the idea that she could be the murderer of Diane Redfern. One scene, in which Laura reveals to the detective that Shelby suspects her of the murder, is a major turning point of this novel.  For its compelling nature in the context of the story, this scene should be included in the upcoming film adaptation.

At the end of Part Two of the novel, Laura is repeatedly questioned about her feelings toward Diane. She is called out for lying and is unable to explain them. Shelby, clearly terrified, shifts nervously beside her. Finally, Laura lets out a confession, saying “Shelby thinks I killed Diane. That’s why he told those lies. He’s been trying to protect me” (Caspary 147). Immediately, this scene leaves the reader with a bounty of questions. What does Shelby know? How could she have done it? Have Shelby and Laura been lying this entire time? In an instant, the audience sees Laura in a new light, as they begin to put together the pieces behind her motives for killing Diane.  This moment is crucial for the plot because it tells the audience not to take anything at face value. It seems like everyone Laura meets is charmed by her presence, including her husband Shelby, Waldo Lydecker, the people of the city, and even Detective McPherson. When Caspary suggests that such a beloved and respected character could commit such an act, as readers, we are all surprised. A plot twist of this caliber, if adapted into the film, would be the perfect scene to grasp the audience’s attention and immerse them deeper into the mystery.

This scene also captures the essence of Shelby and Laura’s relationship. Throughout this confrontation between them and McPherson, Shelby is clearly distraught. He is constantly interrupting Laura and Mark: “His eyes were narrow and mean, his mouth a tight line…his fists [were] clenched” (146). Despite his clear angst, Shelby is not doing anything. He is not serious about physical or verbal confrontation. Instead, it is Laura who has to tell him to stop, when she says, “Shelby, Shelby, darling…You’re making it worse, dear” (146). This interaction demonstrates Shelby’s weakness in standing up for himself. In this scene, Laura sees Shelby as almost a child. This is similar to the nature of Laura and Shelby’s relationship is as a whole. Though they were planning on getting married, Laura has always been dissatisfied with Shelby, which is why she has repeatedly delayed her marriage. In a film adaptation, this scene would shed important light on these character’s unbalanced relationship and the reasoning behind their eventual split.

Laura Hunt delays her marriage with Shelby Carpenter after realizing what he has done

In the film adaptation, this scene could be brought to life. Shelby’s character would be seen as anxious and frantic, building up the tense mood of the situation. Laura’s unusual calmness contrasts with Shelby’s behavior, leaving a sense of mystery as to what her true intentions are. The dialogue can be captured on film as it is written in the book, with Shelby’s constant interruptions and Mark’s intense questioning, which all lead to the moment where Laura asks Mark if he believes she did the murder. At this point, the lighting and camerawork should obviously be focused on Laura, who even in the novel has a lamp shone on her face as she is speaking. The use of a brief camera shot of Laura of her head or from behind the shoulder of Mark would really place the emphasis on her possible guilt. There should also be a close-up of the cigarette case that Shelby had given to Diane. This will show that no matter what Laura tries to do, Shelby will always act out of inferiority in their relationship. He simply will never live up to her expectations.

The culmination of so many shocking events is what makes this scene so riveting. In this scene alone, we learn about Shelby’s true opinions about the murder. We learn that Laura is hurt by Shelby’s actions. We also begin to think of Laura more as a real suspect for the upcoming parts of the book. A film adaptation would perfectly capture the nuanced emotions and stunning revelations of this igniting scene.

For more information on the mystery novel writer, Vera Caspary, visit here.

Works Cited:

Caspary, Vera. Laura. Vintage Books, 2012.

The Explosive Turning Point of Laura

'Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!' I shouted at Waldo's
swollen eyes. 'You're right, Waldo, it's the same
pattern, the same sickness and decay and corruption, 
only they're in you. You! You, Waldo. It's your
malice; you've mocked and ridiculed and ruined every
hope I've ever had, Waldo. You hate the men I like, 
you find their weak places, you make them weaker, 
you've teased and shamed them before my eyes until
they've hated me!'
Laura and Waldo facing each other
Waldo (left), played by Clifton Webb, facing Laura (right), played by Gene Tierney, in the 1944 adaptation of Laura. https://www.themoviedb.org/movie/1939-laura

Adapting Vera Caspary’s pulp fiction novel Laura into a film comes with its technical difficulties and important decisions as the film adaptation must condense and consolidate over a hundred pages of raw narratives and thought into a film no more than two hours mainly consisting of action and dialogue. In this, each and every scene must be considered seriously whether the entire scene is crucial to a representative film adaptation, only parts of it, or none of it at all. Consequentially, the film adaptor has a critical on the development of a novel into a film, deciding which scenes will make it into the film, which details will be emphasized on the screen, and how the scene is portrayed. However, there is one scene in Caspary’s Laura that is absolutely critical to the developments of the story and inarguably must appear in the film adaptation of Laura.

Preceding the critical scene, Waldo Lydecker and Laura are talking privately, during which Waldo shows his true colors and selfish, love-blinded intentions to Laura cornering her and declaring that Laura is his, “[his] love and [his] own.” Just in time, Mark McPherson arrives at the door, saving Laura from Waldo’s grasp and giving her a sense of relief. Conversation between the three builds palpable tension between Waldo, Mark, and Laura until Laura explodes at Waldo with the above quote. This is the scene that absolutely must appear in the film for a multitude of reasons. Obviously, it is filled with drama, tension, and action, great for the story on the screen, but the role in plays in the development and finale of the plot is undeniably critical. This scene represents the turning point where Laura’s realization that Waldo’s actions over the past few years have only been to manipulate her and turn her into his doll materializes into sheer anger and ire. It is in this scene that Laura grasps the destruction and toxicity that Waldo has brought into her life, criticizing every man other than himself to win Laura over. It is in this scene that Laura takes Mark by the arm as a leap of faith to trust him even though he is a detective and cop. A culmination of years of preceding events and scenes, this scene would serve critical to the plot and closing of the film story.

Additionally, this scene perfectly represents Caspary’s intended themes of a strong, smart female lead in Laura and manipulative, love-blinded, selfish males like Waldo as in this scene, Laura takes a definite stance against Waldo. She goes against years of their friendship and takes a firm, unyielding position against him and everything that he has said in the past, showing Laura’s strength as a female lead. In the film adaptation, this scene should be represented with reverse shots and close-ups to emphasize the emotions of each character, especially Laura, to best convey the themes so core to the entire story itself. In addition, close shots will help engage the viewer into the scene and really convey the palpable emotion, tension, and drama occurring in this critical scene.

In conclusion, if a successful and representative film adaptation of Caspary’s is to be made, this scene must be included to not only develop critical moments of the plot but also to display Caspary’s core themes of Laura and to engage viewers with drama, tension, and action.

Works Cited

Caspary, Vera. Laura. Houghton Mifflin, 1943.

Laura’s Angelic Resurrection

As I have been given the task of adapting Vera Caspary’s novel Laura into a film, I wanted to give you my particular insight of one of the most crucial and my personal favorite moment in this pulp fiction. The scene described by detective Mark McPherson the moment he lays his eyes on Laura, discovering not only that her death had not occurred but that the murder mystery revolves around another, was the scene that caught my interest during my progression of reading this novel. It adds a unique layer of interest because it adds another suspect to the list of potential murderers of Diane. However, the romantic description and the interaction between the detective and Laura seems almost too perfect in the midst of a story about a murder mystery.

This scene has a crucial importance to the storyline of the book. As I have mentioned before, Laura, the woman who used to be the victim herself, now becomes a character questionable of innocence. The readers are forced to question the innocence of three characters now, which includes the one who we saw as the poor and dead victim. 

Not only so, but Mark’s admiration for Laura’s beauty and character is physically manifested the moment her lays his eyes on her. She is no longer a woman he needs imagine by looking at her painting or reading through her letters and diary. Her beauty becomes physically real… but her innocence is also questionable, forcing the detective to remain professional. 

Detective Mark mesmerized by Laura’s beauty by staring at her portrait.

In the film adaptation for this scene, the way Mark describes his encounter with Laura is almost seemingly angelic, even if they are in the midst of a thunderstorm. He also mentions feeling like he is lost in a separate and unknown world with her, a slight suggestion he feels like he is in heaven. Therefore, to capture their encounter, I believe through the use of lighting that we could make the image lighter, enhancing Laura’s beauty and this heavenly-like scene. We would capture through full facial shots Laura’s beauty the moment she walks into her apartment and notices detective Mark and Mark’s awe the moment he sees the beauty of a woman he has fallen for. Then through full body shots we would capture the two characters staring into each other’s eyes, creating scene where time has no limits–the way the detective described it. Time would then move forward again with the noise of the storm, where Mark would need to once again act proffesionally to uncover this murder mystery. Therefore, I believe that for this scene to work appropriately with the film adaption, this scene would need to work accordingly to Mark’s description of how he felt the moment he saw Laura.

Another technological aspect that would ensure the film’s success is through the use of color. Therefore, the use of Technicolor, which is a “motion-picture process using dye-transfer techniques to produce a colour print”, will allow us to correctly set the mood for each scene. For example, the scene I have provided above will transition between the use of light and dark colors to show the switch between the angelic time and the present stormy time between Laura and Mark. 

I believe that everything I have provided you with should allow you to capture how Vera Caspary viewed this crucial scene of Laura’s resurrection. Following my insights should ensure this film’s success.

Bibliography:

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Technicolor.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 1 Oct. 2013, www.britannica.com/topic/Technicolor

“Gleaming Surfaces and Twisted Depths: Laura’s Mirror-World of Wayward Desire: Library of America.” Gleaming Surfaces and Twisted Depths: Laura’s Mirror-World of Wayward Desire | Library of America, 15 June 2016, www.loa.org/news-and-views/1168-gleaming-surfaces-and-twisted-depths-emlauraems-mirror-world-of-wayward-desire.

 

How the False Lead of the Interview Scene Played a Key Role in Laura by Vera Caspary

One of the most key scenes to the development of Laura’s plot is in part three in which Shelby J. Carpenter is being questioned by Lieutenant McPherson. His answers lead the readers to believe that he knows more about Diane’s murder than he is letting on. This creates a false hook and adds complexity and depth to the plot of the story. In the previous chapter, which was told from Laura’s point of view, the readers are drawn to believe that she is the murderer. After she asks McPherson and Shelby several times if they think that she was involved with Diane’s murder, she never gives a clear answer to the question; she either brushes it off or changes the subject. This was a deflection tactic that makes readers immediately suspicious. In this interview scene, the reader’s suspicions are practically solidified as he provides a motive for Laura: his romantic involvement with Diane. He is engaged to Laura, so during this scene, it is revealed that Diane was madly in love with Shelby and he didn’t exactly push her away and this is a huge reason for Laura to despise Diane. Even though, we eventually find out that they didn’t have anything to do with the murder, it is crucial to the suspense and build up of the plot. This scene provides strong, albeit misguiding, evidence of these two’s involvement with the murder. 

In order for this scene to be correctly portrayed in a movie adaptation, the viewer would need to appreciate the intense emotions and heightened suspense of the exchange between McPhearson and Shelby. This could be achieved through several over the shoulder and close up shots, through which the viewer would be able to experience the interrogation at a very personal level. As two researchers from The Academy of Digital Entertainment pointed out in a study on how point of view affects a viewers investment in a movie, “a decrease in distraction and an increase in the level of presence causes the perception of realism and enjoyment,” which is achieved through the over-the-shoulder shooting method (van de Boom, Stupar-Rutenfrans, Bastiaens, and  van Gisbergen 2). These scenes allow for the character’s minor facial expressions and shifts in tone to be seen with greater clarity, which translates into a scene with greater emotional depth and build up of suspense. Lighting would also be a crucial aspect of building this movie scene, as harsh lighting can metaphorically represent a moral spotlight being placed on the subject in question. This light should also be devoid of color and create sharp, pale contrast on the face of Shelby. I believe a pallid face would underscore the suspicions the audience has concerning his suspicious behavior and questionable motives. Additionally, making sure that the background is dark will add to this contrast, emphasizing the fixation on the subject. I think another interesting aspect would be adding no music in the background so that it is dead silent. I think this will create a sense of importance of the scene. 

The execution of the interrogation scene using the over-the-shoulder shooting method and harsh lighting would ensure the success of the movie because it would grab the viewer’s attention and solidify their investment in the plot. Also, because as viewers find out that both of them aren’t involved in the crime, the ending will pop out even more and leave them fixated on the fact their suspicions were wrong. I believe this scene is crucial to the suspense of the book and what should be in the adaptation of this murder mystery. 

 

 

From Portrait to Person: Laura’s Grand Appearance

Why include Laura’s mysterious appearance?

Upon first inspection, Laura is a novel that dramatizes a story of mystery, suspense, romance, and murder in charming fashion. It’s just the type of plot that would enthrall viewers if translated to the screen, adding a new dimension to the already vivid descriptions provided in the text.

Out of the entire novel, one scene in particular must be included in a  potential film adaptation. It’s the moment when Vera Caspary reveals that Laura Hunt is, in fact, alive and was not the victim of the murder. The imagery of Laura announcing her presence at her apartment to be greeted by Mark, the chief detective on the case, in the middle of a rainy night.

Image result for laura vera caspary

Mark observing Laura’s portrait in the 1944 film adaptation

This scene in the novel is highly significant for the fact that it’s the turning point, from when Laura becomes just a painting on the wall to a real, living figure. Instead of being spoken about in the past tense and her actions being introduced through flashback, Laura finally gains a voice in dispelling rumors about her past. She’s able to express her thoughts for the first time, cementing her reputation as a fiercely independent woman. “Thunder crashed again. Then I saw her. She held a rain-streaked hat in one hand and a pair of light gloves in the other…’If you don’t get out this moment,’ she said, and her voice trembled, ‘I’ll call the police'” (Vaspary 60). Even when confronted by an unfamiliar man in her apartment after a long journey home, Laura is unafraid to face Mark. It’s this formation of Laura into a heroine that most attracts Mark, as his initial observations of her physical appearance reflect: “Her…dress was moulded tight to her body…She…weighted about one-thirty…tanned skin. Nothing wrong about her ankles either” (Vaspary 60).

The main theme reflected in this scene is the dissonance between reality and one’s perception of reality. The portrait in the background is a physical manifestation of Mark’s image of Laura (an overly idealized and beautiful woman) as compared to Laura in reality, who is a human being with flaws and faults of her own.

To most effectively communicate the importance of this scene in the novel, the following film techniques could be used: surround sound, dramatic lighting, and overlaid visual scenes representing a flashback. It’s repeated several times that there is extreme thunder and lighting during this scene: “Thunder sounded like a squadron of bombers…Thunder crashed again” (Vaspary 60). Employing these sound effects through surround sound in the film would create a dark and mysterious atmosphere that would lend itself well to Laura’s reveal. This scene also takes place at night in Laura’s apartment, so dramatically using lightning flashes to briefly and periodically illuminate the scene would create an ominous effect that foreshadows the appearance of a major plot point. Finally, Mark has a short flashback in the novel to a time when his grandmother “used to tell [him] about meeting in heaven those whom we had lost on earth. Peal after peal of thunder shook the house” (Vaspary 60). This short sequence could be represented in the form of an image of Mark’s grandmother telling him about the afterlife, then by cutting back to Mark’s physical presence in the scene.

Ultimately, shooting the scene in this way would help to reinforce its overall significance as a crucial moment of plot development in the film, while also keeping the audience sufficiently in suspense as to Laura’s transformation.

Works Cited

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

Murder! Solve me!

Some scenes in a movie are so memorable that they become immortalized. No one can ever forget the reveal of Andy Dufresne’s escape in Shawshank Redemption. “Luke, I am your father” is still remembered decades after the original trilogy was released. When I was tasked with figuring out what the important scene from Laura would be for me, it seemed almost trivial what the most important scene was. Parts of me wanted to go with the reveal that Laura’s still alive, Waldo Lydecker’s monologue of jealousy at Detective McPherson he has near the beginning, or maybe even a scene involving the vase, but there is only one aspect to a mystery novel that makes it memorable and successful – the reveal. Finding out how a detective solves a crime is the entire crux of any good mystery novel. Watching a detective slowly piece together the facts after a couple of wrong guesses and catch the murderer is a staple from dozens of good shows and movies. After seeing a multitude of crime/drama shows and reading Sherlock Holmes as a child, I had enough inspiration to construct my own version of the ending based on the events that occurred in chapter five. My ending would involve McPherson pacing around slowly losing trust for Waldo, a man that he had been played by. With each step he took, more confusion would come into his mind. As the clock ticks down, McPherson feels more pressure from the Commissioner to find the murderer. This would probably involve lots of close up shots and close camera following. Desperately searching for the weapon, I would have him mutter, “when murder and suicide are planned like a seduction, a man must have his weapon handy.” Caspary contributes to the characterization of Waldo as a pervert by choosing the word “seduction,” implying a romantic aspect to something incredibly gruesome. And slowly, while trying to find him, McPherson would have a flashback to when he tried to grab Waldo’s cane and put it all together.

The flashback would have to be portrayed with different lighting and camera focus to convey that it is not in the current timeline. After finding Waldo and engaging in a fight where Waldo reveals his insanity, McPherson would knock his head against the banister. After recovering from the scuffle and talking with Laura, he would slowly read the legacy that he left on the desk. Containing one of the most important thematic messages from the book, the note left by Waldo encapsulates an explanation of his own failure and a message from Caspary. Caspary details that man is constructed stubborn but frail. When that fragility is threatened, man looks to violence, but women are constructed from “Adam’s rib” and contain god-like qualities. She cannot be destroyed. Waldo’s reflection on his failure to kill Laura reveals that women are powerful and can overcome this. Every man in this book is pretty much seduced by Laura but that does not matter because whatever feelings men have towards her cannot affect her. Caspary’s final message is about the power of women and it’s imperative to include that in the film.

 

“God Is a Woman.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 25 Oct. 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_Is_a_Woman.

Rose, M.J. “A Look at Vera Caspary’s ‘Laura’ (1943).” HuffPost, HuffPost, 31 July 2012, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/a-look-at-vera-casparys-l_b_1554639.

The Complete Review – All Rights Reserved. Laura – Vera Caspary, http://www.complete-review.com/reviews/noir/caspary.htm#summaries.

“What Happened Between Shawn & Juliet On ‘Psych’? The Movie Isn’t All Roses & Romance For The Duo.” Bustle, https://www.bustle.com/p/what-happened-between-shawn-juliet-on-psych-the-movie-isnt-all-roses-romance-for-the-duo-7376928.