I've just spent a wonderful Sunday watching Laura, the classic film noir starring Gene Tierney. The film is part of the matinee classics being shown on the big screen at the Cornerhouse, and it was great to see it as it would have first been viewed all those years ago at it's premier in 1944.
The story revolves around the murder of beautiful advertising executive Laura Hunt (Tierney) who soon becomes the infactuation of detective Mark Macpherson (Dana Andrews) as he falls in love with her stunning portrait and learns her story.
The portait in question is quite beautiful and has it's own interesting story to tell;
The first version of the picture was painted by the wife the of the original director, Mamoulian, but when Otto Preminger took over as the film's director he found the painting to his dislike. He wanted mystery and captivation, but instead thought the portrait was inflattering, flat and boring.
To remedy this he sent Tierney off to studio photographer Frank Polony and had her picture taken. The best shot was enlarged to a portait size and the photo was then painted over with oils to give it the quality of an original painting. In this way Premigner felt he had captured the allure and power the painting needed to draw the audience in and be believable as the object of Macpherson's desire.
But what intrigues me perhaps more is what happend to this wonderful object after the film had wrapped? The IMDB website states that the painting can be seen in two other films; On the Riviera 1951, starring Danny Kaye and, Woman's World 1954 starring Clifton Webb who also starred in Laura.
But where is it now? Indeed the painting of Laura is not the only art from a movie which has made me ask this question; There have been numerous works of art created just for films that seem to have disappeared into the great abyss, some more classical than others but in my opinion just as wonderful, not only for their asthetics but also because of the history they hold.
My favourtite movie painting is that of Scarlett O Hara, as seen hanging in her and Rhett Butler's huge town house in Gone With the Wind. An imposing piece of portraiture I'd love to know who painted it and if Vivien Leigh actually sat for it. On further investigation, I've found out that it now hangs safely in the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta.
However another piece of movie history that probably HAS gone with the wind is the saloon painting of entertainer Katie Brown from the film Calamity Jane starring Doris Day and Howard Keel.
This (purposely) unfinished painting shows the newly discoverd showgirl Katie Brown after she made her debut, coming out of the shadows of stage star and former employee, Adelaide Adams.
Used simpley as a prop for Keel to sing to, this painting is still a super pin up girl of the era, with all the cute cheese cake allure of a Gil Elvgren. But where is it now?...
If you can think of any other paintings or art from the classic movies of yesteryear I'd love to know what they are and perhaps what happened to them, who knows, an historical movie gem could be sitting dusty in some attic right now just waiting to be discovered....