Woman's World : 'Laura' portrait

'Laura' portrait

Has anybody noticed that on Mr. Gifford's "wall" -- the one where he keeps paintings of all the women he's conquered (vs. his parents' big game trophy walls) -- the portrait in the center is the famous one of Gene Tierney used ten years earlier in LAURA? ...Which of course co-starred Webb, in his talking picture debut, as the murderously obsessed Waldo Lydecker. I assume this was a deliberate inside joke. Of course, as already mentioned elsewhere on this board, the other inside joke was that Webb would have had any interest in female conquests at all!

And where is the DVD?

Re: 'Laura' portrait

I would like to see this film. Someone mentioned it on the board for the film ' Executive Suite '. I'm a fan of the film ' Laura ' too.

Re: 'Laura' portrait

Of course, the portrait wasn't exactly a painting -- it was a photograph of Gene Tierney, painted over to make it look like something done in oil.

Unfortunately there's no sign of this film being put out on DVD anytime in the foreseeable future. In fact, it hasn't even shown up on TV in a long time. Woman's World has as you say been discussed on the Executive Suite board -- a much better film, and one that thankfully is out on DVD. As you know June Allyson is in both, and she's a big drawback in Woman's World: her character is very obnoxious here. There's also a sappy, awful and thoroughly unnecessary title song.

But the film is overall pretty entertaining despite its drawbacks, and, since it takes place in a fictitious automobile corporation, you get a look at the US automotive industry (they used Fords in the picture as the products of the "Gifford" Motor Company), and glimpses of its ideas for the future -- back in the good old days when the industry was innovative and competitive...and still in existence.

Re: 'Laura' portrait

I'll agree with you about Allyson in this film. The silliness of her character took some bite out of the film.

I am not a fan of Lauren Bacall, but she is quite good in this. I love her line to Arlene Dahl: "Have a cookie, cookie?"

Re: Pretty lame, compared to Executive Suite

This suffers a lot when compared to EXECUTIVE SUITE, a definite classic that portrayed very powerfully the tensions and philosophical differences in American corporations of the day.

I am also a great fan of LAURA, and got a big smile when I saw good old Waldo Lydecker risen from the dead and showing off Laura's portrait on his wall of conquests. I didn't think much of WOMAN'S WORLD, frankly, but this little touch adds at least one star to the overall rating.

Re: 'Laura' portrait

I don't disagree with you, smokehill. Executive Suite is one of my four or five favorite films of all. But then WW is geared toward a different, somewhat more ridiculous, approach to the same broad subject. It's enjoyable on a dopey level, and as a New Yorker I like seeing the city of over 60 years ago, and all those great mid-50s cars! And the cast is (mostly) good. The "Laura" portrait is a neat curio. Someday I have to get a better look at the other portraits to see if I recognize any from earlier Fox films.

Re: 'Laura' portrait

That was amusing. If it hadn't been part of The Star of the Month Fred MacMurray I probably would never have tuned in.

One interesting thing I noted, towards the end, when the portrait of LAURA was only partially in the frame, for no apparent reason the camera turned slightly to the right to get in perfectly in the frame. And it does appear the picture was cut down to size, to fit in with the other ladies' portraits.

Interesting trivia! I wonder if it was used elsewhere.

Re: 'Laura' portrait

Yes, I wonder whether Fox ever stuck the portrait in someplace else. Maybe, although it's so recognizable they'd have to be careful about where to use it or how much attention to draw to it. Nothing comes to mind, but it's a fun thing to keep an eye out for.

I understand that the Laura portrait was actually a photograph of Gene Tierney, touched up to make it look like a painting. But the thing that struck me is that, like most of the photos on Gifford's wall, it was in black & white. Obviously, like "Laura's" portrait, they were all made for b&w movies; as with any set decoration, costume or other such visual, objects shot in b&w were specifically chosen to photograph best in that format, so were usually not in the colors they might have been had they been filmed in color. (Something fans of colorization never grasp.) But in real life, who would have a wall full of black & white paintings of ex-girlfriends in his study? Wouldn't such things have been painted in color? (And did he have Arlene Dahl pose for one afterward?)

Funny, I've noticed that same slight camera movement you mentioned. I think you're right about why that was done. And the portrait did look cut down in size -- maybe an alternate version made for Laura?

Am I correct from your opening sentence that you'd never seen this film before, Boomer?

Here's another bit of Clifton Webb trivia, from another movie. Webb's real name was Webb Parmalee Hollenbeck. In his 1957 movie Boy on a Dolphin (with Alan Ladd and, in her American film debut, Sophia Loren), Webb's character is named Mr. Parmalee. I very much doubt that was a coincidence!

Re: 'Laura' portrait

Yes, it's extremely recognizable, as you say. One of the iconic images of the last century.

It probably was a more beautiful and striking portrait because it was a photograph, made to order. To do a portrait in oils that would have done Gene Tierney credit the artist would have had a light touch.

It is a puzzlement why they chose black and white portraits. It did stand out by the virtue of the portraits not being in color. The Tierney portrait works well in LAURA as it is a black and white film while WOMAN'S WORLD had beautiful color.

I am SO glad you noticed the very odd camera movement!

No, I've never seen this film before. The title put me off, a bit. "Woman's World", a bit confining, that title is. However it was great fun seeing the vintage automobiles. I quite enjoyed reading the posts about the cars in another thread. And how sad that they were never released to the public. And rotting away in old barns.. The thought makes me sad. Maybe Mike & Frank from The Pickers will find them, and restore them and save them. That's their thing.

"Parmalee" is such an odd name that I think it is safe to say it had to be an inside joke. It sounds like a marmalade, doesn't it? "Clifton Webb" looks much better on a marque.

Re: 'Laura' portrait

I quite agree with you, it would be extremely difficult for an artist to do justice to Gene Tierney -- in color or black-and-white!

Yes, those portraits in WW do stand out being in b&w in a color movie, but under the circumstances it just looks odd when you think about it -- a wall full of b&w oil paintings. Black & white sketchings, or photographs, yes...but oil portraits in b&w are a bit odd. As I said, I assume the others were also leftover props from earlier films. I suppose to make the wall look consistent they had to use either all b&w or all color "paintings". Since the Laura portrait was in b&w, I suppose the temptation to use it as an inside joke was so great they went with all-b&w.

You're right, the film's title isn't exactly appropriate for the subject matter. I run a classic movie series each summer and in 2014 I ran this film, as I told the audience, just to show something for fun -- no deep thinking, no art, just entertainment, with its good and bad points. (I even warned them about the title tune, which did indeed evoke titters when the film started!) They liked it, even though the title was kind of pointless. But then, I guess many titles seem to have nothing to do with their plots.

Oh, of course using "Parmalee" for Clifton Webb's character's name in Boy on a Dolphin was a deliberate inside joke. I kind of like it when movies do this sort of stuff. In His Girl Friday Cary Grant had a line, "That's what they said to Archie Leach just before they hung him," of course using his own real name. And not just names. In The Flame and the Arrow Burt Lancaster and Nick Cravat do some astonishing stunts disguised as medieval circus clowns, and just before doing battle with the evil prince, Lancaster says to Cravat, "I always told you we should have been acrobats!" -- which is of course what they had been in their younger days, the team of "Lang and Cravat". In The Story of Mankind, Vincent Price, playing the Devil, remarks to Ronald Colman (as The Spirit of Man) that "I know nothing about art," a real joke because Price had a graduate degree in fine art, owned an art gallery and was a recognized art expert. Such things can be enjoyable sidelines to a movie, as long as it's not excessive or done in a heavy-handed way to draw attention to itself.

Re: 'Laura' portrait

Ha, I never noticed the Archie Leach line. I did catch the more obvious Ralph Bellamy mention.