interesting remake of Laura for George Sanders admirers
The TV film "Laura" from 1955 was directed by the distinguished German-born Hollywood director John Brahm. Like so many directors in Hollywood, he started his career in Germany but left for the USA well before the Second World War. He is most famous for a handful of films he made during the forties, in particular for "The Lodger" (1944), "Hangover Square" (1945) and "The Locket" (1946). However, during the fifties, in common with so many of the émigré directors who failed to reach the same stellar status as Preminger, Curtiz and Wilder, he turned to directing for television and disappeared from the horizon producing endless productions in various TV series. Brahm is supposed to have ended up directing 150–200 television films. One of these is "Laura", which was part of a 20th Century Fox Television drama series. The film is also known by the title "A Portrait of Murder", perhaps to avoid confusion with the famous Preminger version of "Laura" (1944), or for unknown copyright reasons. It is stated as being a 60 min production, but obviously there were plenty of advertisements, as the complete advertisement-free version I have seen runs only for 43 min, and the title is "Laura" rather than "A Portrait of a Murder"! For film buffs it is interesting to compare this slightly abridged version with Preminger's film made 11 years earlier. The plot is the same and most characters are kept in the later version. The stellar cast from the original version led by Tierney, Andrews, Price and Anderson was naturally difficult to match in the low-budget TV production. In this version of "Laura" the detective (McPherson) is played by Robert Stack, a rather wooden actor for the role. However, the acerbic and witty character of Waldo Lydecker is in this version played by George Sanders, and he is, in my mind, clearly superior to Clifton Webb in the same role in Preminger's version who was too histrionic and effeminate. The main reason for watching this TV film is indeed the presence of George Sanders, who has so many fans around the world thanks to the mostly cynical characters that he portrayed during his long career, which saw him work in so many films both in Hollywood and in Europe (including with Rossellini). He often plays secondary roles, but when you see his name in the cast, even in minor films, you can always be assured of a solid performance, often delivered with the most subtle subdued humour and cynicism.
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