"You suffer from a common feminine delusion."
Description: The critical opinion of Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) a cynical columnist ("I don't use a pen. I write with a goose quill dipped in venom") in the motion picture Laura (1944).
When Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney) interrupts Waldo during his dinner upon their first meeting, he takes exception to the intrusion and spouts:
“Young woman, either you have been raised in some incredible rustic community where good manners are unknown, or you suffer from the common feminine delusion that the mere fact of being a woman exempts you from the rules of civilized conduct. Possibly both.”
Laura Hunt is a beatiful, successful advertising executive who is "allegedly" found murdered in her New York apartment. When an investigation of her death ensues, Lt. Detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews - "I suspect no one, and I suspect everyone") becomes fascinated with the portrait of Laura in her apartment and soon becomes obsessed with finding her killer.
Waldo Lydecker provides a bit of Laura's biography while narrating off-screen:
"I shall never forget the weekend Laura died. A silver sun burned through the sky like a huge magnifying glass. It was the hottest Sunday in my recollection. I felt as if I were the only human being left in New York. For with Laura's horrible death, I was alone. I, Waldo Lydecker, was the only one who really knew her, and I had just begun to write Laura's story when another of those detectives came to see me. I had him wait. I could watch him through the half-open door. [clock chimes] I noted that his attention was fixed upon my clock. There was only one other in existence, and that was in Laura's apartment, in the very room where she was murdered."
As McPherson takes considerable interest in the case, and Laura, in particular, Waldo Lydecke warns, "You'd better watch out, McPherson, or you'll finish up in a psychiatric ward. I doubt they've ever had a patient who fell in love with a corpse." He also tells McPherson " "If you come a little bit closer, my boy, I can just crack your skull with my walking stick."
Although Detective McPherson never had the pleasure to meet Laura Hunt, Waldo Lydecker provides this summary of the beautiful, and intriquing woman:
"She was quick to seize upon anything that would improve her mind or her appearance. Laura had innate breeding, but she deferred to my judgment and taste. I selected a more attractive hairdress for her. I taught her what clothes were more becoming to her. Through me, she met everyone: The famous and the infamous. Her youth and beauty, her poise and charm of manner captivated them all. She had warmth, vitality. She had authentic magnetism. Wherever we went, she stood out. Men admired her; women envied her. She became as famous as Waldo Lydecker's walking stick and his white carnation."
The case is turned upside down when McPherson falls asleep in Laura's apartment, awakes and discovers Laura in the dark. Apparently, while she was out of the country, her friend Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price) let a model named Diane Redfern occupy Laura's apartment. Because Diane's face and body were disfigured beyond recognition by a shotgun blast, the police assumed it was Laura Hunt. McPherson soon discovers that it was Waldo Lydecker who killed the model, thinking it was Laura.
One of the motivating factors in Laura's demise was Waldo's inability to control her. This fact became evident when Laura told Waldo. "I never have been and I never will be bound by anything I don't do of my own free will."
Detective McPherson discovers the weapon that killed Diane inside the very same clock that he observed in the beginning of the film.
After McPherson's investigation finds Laura innocent of the killing, she goes home to her apartment. But since Waldo Lydecker could not have Laura, he decides to finish what he started. As he attempts to kill Laura, McPherson arrives on the scene and shoots him with his police revolver. Dying, Waldo offers a simple and final farewell, by saying, "Goodbye Laura. Goodbye, My Love."