LAURA’s opening shot

“They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,

Love and desire and hate:

I think they have no portion in us after

We pass the gate.

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:

Out of a misty dream

Our path emerges for a while, then closes

Within a dream.”

(Ernest Dowson’s poem “Vitae Summa Brevis”, read on radio by Waldo Lydecker in the last scene of LAURA)

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Theater had been a major part of Preminger’s life since he was sixteen, as well as a favorite source of inspiration throughout his whole career. Although among the least “theatrical” of film directors, Preminger has often set up the first scenes of his films as dynamic “tableaux”, using the latters to unveil the narrative issues at stake, and to also put the protagonist squarely “at home” in a subtly evolving milieu. Sometimes he even planted maliciously several hidden clues in these first scenes, clues that would assume their full meaning at the end – as in the case of LAURA. Continue reading

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