‘Laura’ — The Making of a Classic Film Noir, Part 3


In case you just tuned in, I’m using the May 15 post by Louella Parsons on Rouben Mamoulian being replaced as director of “Laura” to spend some time examining the production of the film noir classic.

The previous post was a brief look at the life of author Vera Caspary, whose novel was the basis for the film. In her autobiography, “The Secrets of Grown-Ups,” we learned that early in her career, she was the ghostwriter for a correspondence course on writing photoplays.

I was mildly curious as to whether Caspary’s screenwriting course had any hidden nuggets. A cursory glance is not encouraging.

A sample of “The Standard Photoplay Plot Chart.”

Fortunately, “The Fox Plan of Photoplay Writing,” published in 1922, is online because I would hate to pay anything for it. Alas, the accompanying volume, “The Standard Photoplay Plot Chart” has apparently not been scanned and sells for about $40, which is more than I care to pay.

Here is a sample from Lesson 1, in which Caspary, writing as Charles Donald Fox, examines the plots of some popular films of the era.

Here’s her summary of “The Love Auction” (1919), an apparently missing film.


“Miss Lulu Bett” (1921)


“The Miracle Man.” (1919)


It seems unlikely that there are going to be any treasures here, although one never knows. I will leave it to aspiring writers and silent film enthusiasts to peruse further.

To be continued.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1922, 1944, Books and Authors, Film, Hollywood and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to ‘Laura’ — The Making of a Classic Film Noir, Part 3

  1. (Sorry if this comment gets repeated–I’m having sign-in issues.) “Miss Lulu Bett” is a much better film, if you like domestic stories, than this synopsis implies. I wouldn’t have summarized the film’s plot quite that way.


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