Otto Preminger's 1944 'Laura' is a sophisticated film noir that uses a murder mystery to expose the cynical decadence beneath the decorum of its high society locale. In its themes of obsession and delusion, its closest relative is probably 'Vertigo'.
Starting just after the murder of the beautiful Laura, the story introduces as likely suspects two former suitors: an acid-tongued columnist ("How singularly innocent I look this morning") and a shallow playboy ("I can afford a blemish on my character, but not on my clothes"). The investigation is led by a detective who falls under the spell of Laura's portrait.
Laura, played by Gene Tierney in perhaps her most memorable role, is the captivating centre of the film, and - without spoiling too much - the whole story pivots on her haunting image...
Interestingly, Laura was also a source of inspiration for David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' in lending Laura Palmer her name and portrait image, as well as in some subplot parallels. (Plus, the columnist is called Waldo Lydecker, a name any TP fan will recognize in the characters of Waldo the bird and his veterinarian dr. Lydecker.)