Cast: Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price, Judith Anderson, Dorothy Adams, James Flavin
A society beauty is found at her Park Avenue apartment, shot dead by a shotgun blast. New York City homicide detective Mark McPherson (Andrews) investigates the murder. There are no witnesses, the murder weapon is missing, and there are no obvious clues to the murderer’s identity. The deceased, Laura Hunt (Tierney), had no evident enemies. McPherson turns to the victim’s friends for information. They are also his prime suspects: Laura’s playboy fiancée, Shelby Carpenter (Price); her friend and admirer, the critic Waldo Lydecker (Webb); her aunt, Anne Treadwell (Anderson). From friends and acquaintances, McPherson learns how Laura’s talent and ambition gained her a prominent position at work and how her beauty, charm and connections won her entry to New York society. Going over her apartment, McPherson admires her stunning portrait, painted by an old flame, Jacoby. McPherson finds that Laura’s relationship with Lydecker had cooled off as she grew closer to Shelby. She was supposed to marry Shelby, but perhaps she had second thoughts. McPherson keeps returning to Laura’s empty apartment. He reads her letters, stares at her portrait, touches her personal possessions, and gradually falls in love with the woman whose murder he’s trying to solve. McPherson discovers Shelby and Anne have a very close relationship, and that Laura had come to resent Lydecker’s persistent manipulations. One night the obsessed detective returns to Laura’s apartment and again stares at her portrait, longing for a woman that no longer lives. He drinks Laura’s fine liquor and dozes off. And then something happens that forces McPherson to totally rethink the case. Based on the novel of the same name by Vera Caspary.