Two words appear absolutely nowhere in this made-for-tv boiled down version of the story: Vera Caspary. Instead we get a ‘Screenplay by Mel Dinelli’ so I conveniently blame him for the lacklustre 43 minutes we have here. Which isn’t really fair, but come on! Erasing the author is never cool and when it’s a woman, doubly so. Other women characters are also eliminated in favour of an invented boy with a crush on Laura, little Expositio as I believe he is called for obvious reasons of filling in backstory.
The short running time also means we don’t get to experience Laura’s charm in flashbacks either; it doesn’t help that Dana Wynter is lovely but very much has the air of a ‘girl next door’ (played to great effect opposite Kevin McCarthy in Invasion of the Body Snatchers). It’s impossible to compare to Gene Tierney, of course, but we have to believe not only in the obsessiveness of the men around her but in McPherson’s captivation from just her portrait. Unlike some of the YT commenters, I think Robert Stack did a good job with the role, showing the cracks developing in the tough cynical carapace.
Scott Forbes is certainly no Vincent Price, but who is? The problem is really that it’s impossible to imagine what Laura saw in him. He’s just this guy.
If there’s a reason to watch this, of course it’s George Sanders, who was born to play Waldo Lydecker. While I relish Clifton Webb’s performance in the film, it is fun to imagine Sanders in the role. We get a glimpse of it here. Although I must admit he seemed rather uncomfortable in the bathroom scene, which Webb carried off with all the aplomb befitting Waldo’s ego.