Laura, 1944. Directed by Otto Preminger (and Rouben Mamoulian, unbilled). Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price, Judith Anderson.

Brooding, obsessive, neurotic film noir in which detective Dana Andrews forms an unhealthy attraction to a murdered woman as he investigates her death. The suspects, especially Clifton Webb in the role of a lifetime, all present their view of Laura's life and verbally fence with Andrews. There is as much ascerbic wit in this movie as there is in any given film noir, as well as the requisite shadows and femme fatales and all of the other trappings of the form, but there is something else here, too: There is a dual undercurrent in this movie of both romantic longing for a love that never was and its necrophilliac flip side. This undercurrent is corrosive and infects the rest of the movie in a way that cannot be disguised by the film's languid, Oscar winning cinematography. Because of this, Laura has a lingering effect on the viewer that puts one in the same situation as Andrews's detective: it follows you like the scent of perfume or the echo of a gunshot.