Femme Fatale : Laura Hunt

Like most Femmes Fatales, Laura Hunt is beautiful, elegant, utterly ambitious and mysterious. Her charm makes it difficult for men to resist her, including the detective suspecting her of murder.

Laura is a brilliant mystery both in its plot and structure. Each of the men in love with Laura is a narrator in the novel. There’s Laura’s fiancé, who is unfaithful to her even on the eve of their wedding, her jealous friend Waldo who drives her lovers away and the hard-boiled detective who can’t resist her charms.

In this passage, where Laura thinks of Shelby, the man she is supposed to marry, writer Vera Caspary shows not only literary talent but sharp insight into Laura’s psyche.

“I had used him as women use men to complete the design of a full life, playing at love for the gratification of my vanity, wearing him proudly as a successful prostitute wears her silver foxes to tell the world she owns a man. Going on thirty and unmarried, I had become alarmed. Pretending to love him and playing the mother game, I bought him an extravagant cigarette case, fourteen-karat gold, as a man might buy his wife an orchid or a diamond to expiate infidelity.”

Laura, was Vera Caspary’s best known work and in 1944 was adapted into a film directed by Otto Preminger with Gene Tierney   playing Laura, a role that  propelled her to stardom.

 Vera Louise Caspary (1899-1987) who became one of the most prominent female authors and playwrights of her generation, wrote more than 21 novels.

Vera Caspary.jpg

Tired of shopping Laura around and against her own advice, “Once a writer sells a story to Hollywood, they can kiss it goodbye,” she sold it to Fox.

“My agent wrote one of the worst contracts ever written. I signed it as carelessly as a five-dollar check. As I would be reminded in restaurants and parking lots, I had signed away a million dollars. Who would have thought that a film which for all its elegance, was not expensive, whose stars were not then considered important, would become a box office smash and a Hollywood legend?”

 

42 thoughts on “Femme Fatale : Laura Hunt

  1. An intriguing mystery and a sad outcome for the author. Her quote should be a cautionary tale for all writers.

    I’ve heard of a few authors who got their revenge after they felt they were burned by Hollywood: L.A. police detective Joseph Wambaugh and author Elmore Leonard. Wambaugh, as I recall, was upset that Hollywood took advantage of him as a new author and he retaliated by writing: Glitter Dome. Leonard’s revenge, I believe, was “Get Shorty.” Both take a shot at Hollywood shysters and con men.

    • Thanks for this wonderful information. Maybe success, after all, is the best revenge.
      Yes, Vera Caspary’s experience should indeed be a cautionary tale for all writers. Best interest in mind usually means theirs.

    • Even if you get an agent, there’s no guarantee that he or she will sell your book. That’s why I tend to think that if I’m going to go traditional then I should try a small press, where I don’t need an agent. I think getting an agent is best when you already have a few books under your belt so that you can choose a good one. But Vera Caspery’s experience is an example of “Writer Beware”.
      I hope you’re enjoying your holidays. 🙂

  2. I watched the film and then read the novel in my teens. I thought both were wonderful. I loved the musltiple narrators in the novel, but quite honestly I couldn’t remember the name of the author. Thanks for reminding me about Vera Louise Caspary. Great post!

  3. Wow, fascinating to learn what goes on behind the scenes. It’s a tough world, writing, publishing, marketing and I didn’t know Caspary sold herself short. I loved this movie. I saw it many times when I was young. I just love the old black and whites. 🙂

      • Thanks for your ongoing interest Carol. I promise to let you know as soon as it’s available (crossing fingers for tomorrow). As I mentioned, I had to order a proof copy first from CS before I hit publish. They emailed me it was sent 8 days ago! I am waiting eagerly and as soon as I hit publish I will let you know and also post it on my page 🙂 Thanks so much.

    • Oh, no, Diahann. It’s just a series that I’m doing simply because the femme fatale character intrigues me and I want to learn more about her. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂 It pleases me that you’re enjoying my posts.<3

  4. OMG, Gene Tierney – THE femme fatale, by definition and by excellence, too… but only in the movies! 🙂 she had a few love affairs with famous handsome guys… 🙂
    * * *
    her real life was not “rose” at all… she passed-away in Houston, TX where I lived for 5 years and the grand-parents of our neighbors had met her… depressed and unhappy(like a stone=comme une pierre!) since her 1st daughther had been mentally retarded, blind and deaf… 😦 she spoke fluent French as she’d studied in Lausanne(French Switzerland) for 2 years and she loved Europe… heavy smoker, she died at 71 like my maman, RIP.

    • Melanie, merci beaucoup for this information. What a tragedy for her daughter and her own life. So many actresses seem to have tragic real lives. Now, I want ot read her biography. 🙂

      • avec plaisir, Miss Carol! 🙂 and a super-bonus: 50 beautiful women… some genuine and natural beauties from “l’époque dorée(golden age) de Hollywood” when botox and silicone were unknown and some contemporary beauties – before their artificial metamorphosis: 😀

  5. I’m a great fan of the oldies. Must have seen this movie, but I cannot recall. The Tierney photo is not on, just to let you know. I hate it when that happens. There are so many crooks out there trying to take advantage of someone off-guard. Too bad for Caspary. Can’t help but feel sadness when I read this. Love the Femme Fatale series. 🙂

  6. Hi, Carol! I used your suggestion of a substitution for Happy Hump Day jokes, it is called, “Wednesday’s Chuckles” and I listed your blog in it, too! I like to ‘give credit, where credit is due!’ Thanks for the fun comments last Wednesday.
    I enjoyed this post, so glad you share about the author and give us samplings of their writings, too! You are a great ‘critic’ or could have been a famous book reviewer, Carol! You still may be!
    Smiles, Robin

  7. Alas, even with “representation,” we need to be sure the move is the right one. In the end, we may be the only ones truly looking out for our best interests!

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