Double Feature: LAURA

On Sunday, April 26th, at 6:30 PM, we will be screening Laura, directed by Otto Preminger and based on the novel by Vera Caspary, as part of our Double Feature film series. At each double feature event, we screen a film version of a roman noir we know and love. Each screening is free and open to the public, and takes places on BookPeople’s third floor.


Post by Molly

Laura, first published in 1942, was Vera Caspary’s breakthrough novel. She turned the novel into a play, which was then adapted into a hit 1944 film, directed by Otto Preminger and starring Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb (in his first appearance in a film since the silent era) and a young, handsome Vincent Price. Many today have seen the film; fewer have read Caspary’s fascinating novel, reprinted by The Feminist Press in 2005 as part of their stellar Femmes Fatales imprint. The film and book, despite their gap in fame, are equally fascinating in their context and themes.

Laura begins, like many a detective novel, with the murder of a woman. Laura Hunt is found dead in her apartment, shot in the face with buckshot, with her portrait looming large above her. Detective Mark McPherson is assigned the case after his antagonistic boss decides to keep the young detective from going to the ballgame (just one example of Caspary’s acerbic wit and care for detail) and as he enters Laura Hunt’s world, his admiration for the murdered woman grows in proportion to his disappointment in virtually all of her companions, male or female.

Laura, in her life, was surrounded by a host of characters who alternated between worshiping her, controlling her, using her, and deceiving her. From Laura’s aunt, a faded beauty with designs on Laura’s fiance, to Laura’s best friend, a cynical society columnist who, before her death, destroyed each of her relationships with cutting remarks, to Laura’s gold digging fiance, a penniless Southern aristocrat who uses his good looks to gain Laura’s financial support while looking for a bit on the side – all combine an obsessive love for Laura with the need to exploit her talents and charm. Added to this host of callous, covetous characters, the policeman himself develops a growing interest in in the victim that gets in the way of his ability to solve the case.

I can’t get too much further into the plot – the book and film both have enough surprises that all I can provide is the basic set-up, but trust me, this film and book both have enough subtle nods at taboo topics to make for great between-the-lines reading. The film and book represent a variety of attitudes towards gender, sexuality, class and work. Sometimes, the story reads like a hardboiled version of a 19th century novel in its scathing critique of the Gilded Age upper classes.

The differences between the film and book are subtle, yet worthy of discussion.The story remains basically the same, with the usual shrinking of narrative time in a book-to-film adaptation and more differences introduced in the portrayal of characters than in the plot itself. There’s a rumor that a remake of the film may be in the works, and it would certainly be fascinating to see Laura adapted in post-code Hollywood for modern sensibilities. In the meantime, come watch this classic noir with us – we screen the film on Sunday, April 26th, at 6:30 PM on our third floor. 


Copies of Caspary’s novel are available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. We screen Laura on Sunday, April 26th, at 6:30 PM on our third floor. The screening is free and open to the public, and will be followed by a discussion of the book and film in contrast. 

MysteryPeople Brings Back Free Noir Double Feature Film Series

Last summer, MysteryPeople brought you free screenings of five films based on some of our favorite romans noirs, followed by discussion of the book and film. We screened Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity, his adaptation of James M. Cain’s classic novel,  Purple Noon, René ClémentCarl Franklin’s Devil In A Blue Dress, based on Walter Mosley’s first Easy Rawlins book, and Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone, adapted from the Daniel Woodrell novel

Now, we are proud to announce the return of MysteryPeople’s Noir Double Feature Film Series for summer 2015. Starting Sunday, April 26, we will bring you five of our favorite films based on five noir classics. Screenings are free and open to the public and start at 6:30 PM on BookPeople’s third floor. We’ll be profiling each film/book combination closer to each screening, but here’s an overview of each film we’ve chosen for this year’s screenings:

laura picsSUNDAY, APRIL 26 6:30 PM

SCREENING AND DISCUSSION

OTTO PREMINGER’S 1944 ADAPTATION OF VERA CASPARY’S LAURA

Vera Caspary’s 1942 novel Laura was just one of many complex psychological mysteries by Caspary to be turned into a Hollywood film, but Laura may contain her most emblematic femme fatale of all. Come discuss this lesser known hard-boiled classic before a screening of the rather more well-known yet equally fascinating film. Copies of Laura are available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. 

spy who came in from the cold screeningSUNDAY, MAY 10 6:30 PM

SCREENING AND DISCUSSION

MARTIN RITT’S 1965 ADAPTATION OF JOHN LE CARRÉ’S THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD

 John le Carre’s classic spy novel The Spy Who Came In From The Cold celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and the film and novel, with their prescient plague-on-both-houses story-lines, have only gotten better with time. Join us for Richard Burton and Oscar Werner’s electrifying performances in the film, followed by a discussion. Copies of The Spy Who Came In From The Cold are available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. 

pics for screening MarloweSUNDAY, MAY 24 6:30 PM

SCREENING AND DISCUSSION

MARLOWE, PAUL BOGART’S 1969 ADAPTATION OF RAYMOND CHANDLER’S THE LITTLE SISTER

In this neo-noir from 1969, James Garner plays Chandler’s Marlowe in one of the stranger adaptions of a Chandler novel. Come join us May 24 for a discussion of The Little Sister and a screening of Marlowe, the 1969 adaption of the book. Copies of The Little Sister are available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. 

pics for screening coup de torchonSUNDAY, JUNE 7 6:30 PM

SCREENING AND DISCUSSION

COUP DE TORCHON, BERTRAND TAVERNIER’S 1981 ADAPTATION OF JIM THOMPSON’S POP. 1280

Jim Thompson’s Pop 1280 gives us one of the most chilling looks into a killer’s mind ever written, and Coup de Torchon beautifully adapts Thompson’s novel, changing the setting from the American South to French Colonial Algeria. We picked a French film in celebration of International Crime Fiction Month, which we plan to celebrate in a variety of ways, including international crime fiction pics for all of our book clubs.  Copies of Pop. 1280 are available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. 

pics for screening walk among the tombstonesSUNDAY, JUNE 21 AT 6:30 PM

SCREENING AND DISCUSSION

SCOTT FRANK’S 2014 ADAPTATION OF LAWRENCE BLOCK’S A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES

Lawrence Block’s Mathew Scudder series is one of our most beloved in the mystery section, and we are pleased to bring you Scott Frank’s recent addition to the noir canon, his adaptation of A Walk Among The Tombstones. Please join us for a film screening and discussion of the novel. Copies of A Walk Among The Tombstones are available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.


Keep an eye out on our blog for more in-depth looks at each of the books and films as we get closer to each screening. A full list of the film series can be found on our website.