As I’m sure you’ve guessed from my various movie posts, I’m a sucker for the old studio films. I love the sharp costumes, the smoldering glances, the real moral dilemmas, the incisive character profiles. But mostly, the smart dialog! It’s great across the board. Thrillers like The Third Man, where every word means four different things, and screwball comedies like Bringing Up Baby, where the back-and-forth between the romantic leads is the whole point. But I don’t often find the lighthearted patter of a romantic comedy in a film noir, so I was delighted to find that the 1944 film Laura had just that. There are some wonderful twists and femme fatale moments, as there are in all the best film noirs, but it adds some extra touches like this scene between Laura (Gene Tierney) and Shelby (Vincent Price, before his horror movie days).
Shelby: I knew there was something on my mind. What is it… Oh yes–will you dine with me tomorrow night?
Shelby: No, that isn’t what’s worrying me… It’s the next night.
Laura: But Shelby, I can’t–
Shelby: Good. What about three weeks from tonight and all the nights in-between?
Laura: Don’t you think I have any other engagements?
Shelby: What about two months from now and the month after that?
Laura: What about next year?
Shelby: That’s all settled. What about breakfast?
Laura: (laughs) What about dancing? (They get up and dance.)
Shelby: What about lunch? Beautiful lunches. Day after day after day after–
Laura: What about work? Beautiful work. Day after day after day…
Shelby: Why, Miss Hunt, the way you talk, you’d think I was in love with you.
At which point I fell a little bit in love with this movie.