Actress Gene Tierney died 15 years ago on this day. You might remember her in Laura, as the woman that Dana Andrews' detective falls in love with, even though he's investigating her death. He sees that big portrait of her on the wall, and hears about her from witnesses, and that does it. And yet I find that Tierney herself is almost anticlimactic in Laura -- I prefer the barbed dialogue of Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) and that lovely score, including the title tune by Johnny Mercer. Laura was released in 1944, the same year as that other film noir classic, Double Indemnity, although they were both beaten at the Oscars by the treacly Going My Way (and you thought Crash was a rotten Oscar choice).
Tierney had other chances to shine, however, starring in a number of 1940s films from notable directors: Heaven Can Wait, directed by Ernst Lubitsch; The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz; and again with Otto Preminger, the director of Laura, in Where the Sidewalk Ends. Her last acting role was in the TV miniseries Scruples in 1980. Austin Film Society has devoted a retrospective series to Tierney this month; I'm hoping to see the melodrama Leave Her to Heaven tomorrow night, the movie for which she was nominated for an Oscar. The AFS series was programmed by Austin Chronicle writer Raoul Hernandez, who summarized Tierney's life and filmography in a recent essay. I recommend the essay if you want to learn more about Tierney and why her successful career in acting was suddenly cut short in the 1950s.