Sunday, December 17, 2006

Pens, quills, and great big typewriters

In the 1944 film Laura, Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney) tries to persuade writer and radio personality Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) to endorse a fountain pen. But Lydecker is keeping it old school:

LH: Here's what I wanted to show you. It's for the Wallace Flow-Rite pen. I know my company would be glad to pay you $5000 if you'll endorse the ad.

WL: I don't use a pen. I write with a goose quill dipped in venom.
In fact, when we first see Waldo Lydecker, he's working at a typewriter, which sits on a swing-away platform over his bathtub.

The opening scene in Laura, in which detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) first talks to Lydecker, is a hilarious clash of masculine styles. Lydecker sits in the tub, with his glasses, his scrawny chest, and his big typewriter. McPherson stands in jacket and fedora, with a cigarette and a small black notebook. The next time you watch Laura, watch for the trace of a smirk on McPherson's face as Lydecker gets up from the tub. Would an audience in 1944 have caught it and understood? I think so.

Update, December 23: I watched Laura again last night, and it's a small portable typewriter, which seems more appropriate anyway.

comments: 6

Anonymous said...

However, I have a horrible crush on Clifton Webb, though I never looked twice at Dana Andrews. Who knows?

Anonymous said...

And yet, I have a total crush on Clifton Webb and have never looked twice at Dana Andrews.

Great movie, though. Tierney is especially lovely in it.

Anonymous said...

Never seen this movie (and can I confess I don't even know what the two actors look like?), but I love that retort! Hurrah for goose quills dipped in venom!

Michael Leddy said...

CW, if you Google, you can get a sense of Clifton Webb and Dana Andrews pretty quickly.

Lisa, I agree with you that Webb is a dazzling figure in this movie. Add Vincent Price (whom I didn't mention), and you have a remarkable trio of suitors, no? And Gene Tierney -- gosh, I might have to resign from the Teresa Wright fan club.

Anonymous said...

Well, with Webb and Price, it's a sexy diction thing.

Sorry about the double message; is the beta driving anybody mad besides me?

Here are some images of Clifton Webb, Dana Andrews (there's even a shot of Teresa Wright in there), and the unbelievably lovely Gene Tierney, who will forever be lodged in my heart from The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, which also had George Sanders in it, one of the great loves of my life.

I watch a lot of movies.

Anonymous said...

I should note that all these men, except for Price and Andrews, died before I was born; however, I have been in love with Cyrano de Bergerac since I was seven. Some women think they have issues with unattainable men--they got nothing on me!!! :)