ROUBEN MAMOULIAN was the first director of LAURA, with OTTO PREMINGER producing for Twentieth Century Fox.
Both men had their own ideas about how the story should be told , until eventually things came to a head and DARRYL ZANUCK fired Mamoulian.
Preminger took over the direction.
But in the time that Rouben Mamoulian was the director, sets were designed and made, and most interestingly, Mamoulian had a portrait of ‘Laura’ painted by the artist who became his wife, AZALIA NEWMAN (1902- 1999).
That is the portrait in the still below.
Looking at it in closeup, it doesn’t look much like GENE TIERNEY, but the initial casting for the lead role was JENNIFER JONES. The story goes that Ms. Jones didn’t turn up for work on the first day of shooting.
In his autobiography , Otto Preminger said:
“When I scrapped Mamoulian’s sets,the portrait of Laura went with them.”
According to Preminger, “Portraits rarely photographed well.” So Gene Tierney was photographed by studio photographer Frank Powolny. The photo portrait was enlarged and painted over to make it appear like an original painting.
Boy, is McPherson (Dana Andrews) in for a surprise!
Mamoulian wanted LAIRD CREGAR as Lydecker, but CLIFTON WEBB proved to be inspired casting.
JOHN HODIAK and GEORGE RAFT were considered for the part of McPherson. It turned out to be one of DANA ANDREWS’ s most memorable roles.
I was interested to find out more about the artist, Azalia Newman who painted many Hollywood stars including JOAN CRAWFORD and CAROLE LOMBARD.
Ms Newman did artwork for a large format magazine called CINEMA ARTS which only lasted three issues in 1937. While most fan magazines were 10 cents at the time, Cinema Arts was 50 cents and averaged 100 pages.
It has been described as “the most beautiful and elegant of all film magazines.”
The covers of the three issues are shown below.
I found this amazing picture, with Laura holding the shotgun, on a website , http://premingernoir.co
An alternative ending to the film was shot in which Laura finds the gun in the clock and she hides it, then goes to Lydecker to warn him to get away before the police catch him. She feels she owes him for all he has done for her -even though he tried to kill her – and did kill the other girl!
In 1955, TV’s “The Twentieth Century Hour” had a version of LAURA, with GEORGE SANDERS as Lydecker, ROBERT STACK as McPherson, and Dana Wynter as Laura.
What iconic Hollywood memorabilia – that portrait, and the clock in Laura’s apartment.
Where are they now, I wonder.
Terrific post! The Tierney Laura portrait was owned by Robert Osborne and hung in his NY apartment. I’ve seen it in color and will try to send you a pic.
That’s good to know. Thanks for the info.
Were you ever able to locate that picture?
Gene Tierney has become my absolutely favorite actress and I’ve wondered what became of that picture as well.
I can’t even imagine what it would be like to own something like that.
Sorry, I didn’t get any further information about who now owns that picture.
It certainly would be incredible to own such an iconic piece of Hollywood memorabilia
I’m sure you knew this: Rouben Mamoulian was a great director, but got shafted more then once in his Hollywood career. Preminger also replaced him on Porgy & Bess. Joseph L. Mankiewicz replaced him on Cleopatra. His last flick was Silk Stockings. MGM didn’t want him on that either, but Arthur Freed used his clout. RM deserved better.
I did know about Preminger replacing Mamoulian for a second time . Mamoulian was probably bigger on Broadway where he could have a lot more control. I love his films.
There’s also a ’67 tv taped version with Jackie Kennedy’s spectacularly untalented sister. Also with Sanders and Stack. She supposedly had all copies destroyed.
The one with Jackie’s sister was my first exposure to “Laura”. Being a child, I loved it. I didn’t see the movie till I was 60. I love it so much. I watch it as often as possible.
It’s such a good film, glad you finally got to see it.
I saw that one as a child and loved it then. I was in my 50s or 60s before I saw the good one. Love it now.
Yes–the teleplay was written by Lee Radziwell’s bosom pal Truman Capote, who (incredibly) thought the role would catapult her to stardom. She later ditched Capote for good when he was sued for defamation by Gore Vidal and Truman wanted her as a witness
Thanks for the information.
The portrait was later re-used in the 1951 movie On the Riviera.
Sorry, I made a mistake. Now my e-mailadres shows up as my name in the comments, can you please fix that? Thank you.
My e-mailadres is visible now (where my name should be) in my first comment, by mistake. I would like it NOT to be visible. Could you please help me out? Thanks.
Happy to change. Many thanks for info and “Laura” portrait re- use.
Vienna – I’m a baseball historian who loves Noir. Do you what happened to the pinball Baseball game Dana is playing with to keep himself calm? It is almost my Rosebud! Do you have any idea of who made that game and if any still exist?
That is a dandy piece of classic memorabilia but I have no idea what happened to it. I’d like to think Dana Andrews held on to it.