On January 22nd, 2012, a tribute to Vera Caspary was presented as part of the Noir Film Festival at The Castro Theatre. The festival started on January 20th and ended on the 29th, showing classics such as Mr. Dynamite, Gilda, The House On Telegraph Hill, Point Blank, Unfaithfully Yours, Naked Alibi, The Great Gatsby and many other noir works of art. As cited before, Vera Caspary was honored with a double feature night of her own writing work, including the hardly known british “Bedelia” and the very famous Otto Preminger adaptation of “Laura”. Reviews of Bedelia and Laura after the jump
Bedelia – The Queen of The British Femme Fatales.
After a long heartbreak by Otto Preminger‘s adaptation of her Laura, Vera Caspary decided to hide “Bedelia” from the hands of Hollywood. She brought her new screenplay to alternative British filmmaking and followed up with a great cast, the wonderful Lance Comfort direction and a much more intimate production (in relation to Laura). In the beginning of the night at The Castro, there was a speech about the “conspiracies” of this movie and how it would only be allowed to be shown once in every theatre that miraculously put their hands into it. It is a very rare 35mm print that will not be shared many places. In fact, it is very hard – almost impossible – to find it in a video rent store. ”A piece of treasure”, as the founder of the Festival, Mr. Eddie Muller – who is also a great film/theatre noir writer and who I have had the pleasure to meet when I was in a reading of his new play, Fear over Frisco – said.
Bedelia, played by the “queen of the British femme fatales“, Margaret Lockwood, represents the grave danger in women recognized at that period of time. Strong, seductive, forceful, vigorous. The true meaning of a young film noir female character. The plot and the story are absolutely wonderful and magnetized the audience like a good book you can’t stop reading. Margaret makes a great job on her acting, giving her Bedelia a touch of drama and sometimes making the audience wonder if she is a hero or an anti-hero. It is wonderful to know we still have that wonder in the world and that maybe some people will still be able to see it. If it wasn’t so secretive, I am sure it would be a very famous classic, just like Laura is.
Laura – The Grand Mystery.
Adapted by Jay Dratler, “Laura” is one of the most famous mysteries within the History of Filmmaking. The amazing acting, – including a very young Vincent Price, who I almost didn’t recognize – wonderful direction by Otto Preminger and the amazing cinematography and wardrobe choices makes me think that Vera Caspary had a love-hate relationship to this movie. Even though it is a great adaptation, Vera could not stand to see her screenplay turned into something absolutely different. If “Laura” was adapted in the way Vera wrote it, it would have been a different story, with a different plot and maybe even different actors. If there is an example of an artist not knowing how to “kill their baby”, Vera Caspary was definitely it.
Laura tells a story about a detective (played by the great Dana Andrews) that falls in love with a murder victim, Laura (played by Gene Tierney). The film’s build up is absolutely great. The secret being revealed in the end works perfectly with the timing of the movie. Impeccable cinematography, Oscar-winning. Great direction, great acting, great film overall. For those who have a preference for mysteries, it is more than recommendable.