Laura (1944)

This film, book and lecture gave me allot to think about this week. I was glad to find while reading the lecture that I wasn’t off in thinking that Waldo seemed as though he was intended to be gay, in many ways. I wasn’t sure if this was because of the writing style, the authors idea of an over-educated man or what it was until I saw the film and book in its intended light.

Just the night before I finished the book and film I watched the documentary “Celluloid Closet”. It’s an analysis of gay culture as represented through film, mostly during times when it was highly censored. Most directors and screenwriters eventually found ways around this censorship and used the censors ignorance against them. How would they know how an over-educated, spoiled old rich man acts? or an interior designer for that fact… or any other stereotypes many films not only reinforced but partially caused gay people everywhere to live up to. It was interesting to see this film in that light, with Waldo, a self denying gay man who, through his frustrations, convinced himself that his love and standards for Laura must be deeper than obsession, and more important than personal psychosis. I also found it interesting, just as “Celluloid Closet” showed, that many potentially or obviously gay characters were eventually killed off, in some sort of moral accomplishment. I felt this film was different in that sense but im not sure why, possibly because I read it as well, does that pattern repeat in books?

I also like how the lecture points out Laura’s transformation from what we know of her past and who she becomes over the course of the story. She seems to repeatedly wake up to realizations she never allowed herself before. Shedding her attitude about men for a more self respecting one, finally telling Waldo off (in the book mostly – saying that he’s always trying to shame men she likes) and finally allowing herself to fall for a guy like Mark – “a real man” as hes’ called. I did not like the development of the relationship in the film as much as in the book, especially the complication of the aunt who is trying to steal her fiance? unnecessary. I did however like the way Mark was so socially awkward in the film, never really giving off any emotion, playing with his toy when he was in a stressful or uncomfortable situation. The way he kept asking Laura about why she lied about the engagement, as sly as asking a friend to ask someone out for you but shy and endearing all the same.

The lecture also points out the missing aspect of Laura I found especially interesting in the film, the parts of Laura that tell Mark that shes a more down to earth and real woman than she seems to have been (she likes baseball, etc). By the end though, Laura ultimately is allowed to stop the self Waldo tried to hard to make her and allow herself to slow down and rethink her future and past and who shell turn into. Because of Laura’s overall character in the book, I saw it as fairly modern in regards to women’s roles and rights to non-generic personalities, something even movies today leave out sometimes.

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