‘Laura’ — The Making of a Film Noir Classic, Part 19

Laura Page 151

Page 151 of “Laura.” Novelist Vera Caspary uses the date Friday, Aug. 27, 1941.

In case you just tuned in, I’m using Louella Parsons’ May 15, 1944, item on Rouben Mamoulian being replaced as the director of “Laura” to take a meandering look at the making of the film, which was released in Los Angeles in November 1944. Previous posts have examined the writing career of “Laura” novelist Vera Caspary and the state of the detective story in 1941, when she was writing the novel.

”Laura” novelist Vera Caspary chose the precise date of Friday, Aug. 27, 1941, for the interrogation of Shelby Carpenter (played by Vincent Price in the film) by Detective Mark McPherson (played by Dana Andrews). This fixes the date of the murder as the previous Friday, Aug. 20, 1941.

The Making of “Laura” Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18 | Part 19 | Part 20 | Part 21

There’s only one problem.

August 1941 Calendar

An August 1941 calendar with pinup art by Earl Moran, listed on EBay at Buy It Now for $19.95.

As we can see from our authentic 1941 calendar…


Aug. 20, 1941 and Aug. 27, 1941, were Wednesdays.

If this were “The Annotated Sherlock Holmes,” we might make much of this, saying that “Watson must be wrong about the date.” But it’s more likely that Caspary intentionally erred to give the book the atmosphere of authenticity without having some reader try to go hunt down the file.

But wait! On Page 95, Caspary gives the correct date, Thursday, Aug. 28, 1941, which was supposed to be the day Laura married Shelby. That fixes the murder as Aug. 22, 1941, which is a Friday.

I wonder what the Baker Street Irregulars would make of this.

To be continued.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1941, 1944, Books and Authors, Film, Hollywood and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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