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|Featured CED VideoDisc No. 34 - Fall 2004|
I chose this title to be the featured CED for this season as it's the 60th anniversary of "Laura" as well as the 120th anniversary of Nipper, the RCA mascot. The caddy on the above left is unusual in that it is an early prototype and has a full-color Nipper logo in the upper-right corner which is enlarged in the image next to the caddy. For the production system, RCA chose a simple outline Nipper logo that can be seen on some of the past featured CED's like Grease and The Hobbit. The full-color Nipper logo is cool and really stands out on the caddy, and that may be why RCA's label-design team chose not to use it, thinking the flashy logo might detract from the larger caddy illustration. "Laura" was one of the first CED titles pressed, but the very first was "Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown" which also has the rainbow label background characteristic of some of the earliest CED titles.
The above picture, shows another unique aspect of this prototype caddy label, the green Universal Product Code (UPC) printed directly on the rear caddy label background in the upper-right corner. By contrast, the production system put the UPC in the upper-left corner, and it was in black against a white background. Since most UPC scanners operate by detecting changes in contrast as the scanner moves over the code bars, the decision to use a UPC with maximized black-and-white contrast was a wise one.
Besides the Nipper and RCA SelectaVision VideoDiscs logos on the upper right corner of the caddy, the front of this prototype label has one other subtle but noteworthy difference from the label used on the production release of "Laura." If you happen to have this CED title (or the CD-ROM), try doing a comparison between the production and prototype labels to see if you can spot this difference.
The movie Laura was released in October 1944, and was the sleeper hit of its time. This was at the height of World War II, although there's no indication of the war in the movie except for a small "Buy War Bonds in this Theatre" message during the closing credits. Distancing the movie from the war may have worked in its favor, as Americans in Fall 1944 had the perception that World War II was winding down and would soon be over. On October 20, Aachen became the first city within Germany to be captured by the allies, and on October 25, General Douglas MacArthur did his famous "I have returned!" wade ashore in the Philippines. Of course, the notion of the war being practically over was dispelled a couple months later with Hitler's bloody counteroffensive now known as the Battle of the Bulge.
The above scene from the movie is a portrait of Laura (Gene Tierney) that appears 13:02 into Side 1 of the RCA release (12:45 on the CBS release). This portrait also appears throughout the opening credits, although it is always partially covered by text. Given the title of the movie, and the prominence of this portrait, it might seem that Laura's the star of the movie, but it's Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) who truly steals the show, dropping witty verbal barbs throughout. Clifton Webb was a stage actor who had really only appeared in silent movies prior to "Laura," although his movie career took off with the success of this movie. The film is also notable for featuring Vincent Price in a ladies man role long predating his horror film cult status. It was nearly 40 years later that he did the voice-over for the Thriller music video.
"Laura" is a classic example of Film Noir, a genre rather well-represented in the CED format. The following table lists all the Film Noir CED titles available.
Table of Film Noir Titles on CED
|Big Sleep, The|
|Big Sleep, The [PAL]|
|High Sierra [CBS]|
|High Sierra [RCA]|
|I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang|
|Key Largo [PAL]|
|Maltese Falcon, The|
|Maltese Falcon, The [PAL]|
|Out of the Past|
|Strangers on a Train|
|Suspicion||Exists as Test Disc only|
|White Heat [CBS]|
|White Heat [RCA]|
|White Heat [PAL]|
View the Original Nipper as Painted by Francis Barraud
View Pictures of the Nipper Stained Glass Windows in Camden, New Jersey
View Pictures of the Giant Nipper atop a Building in Albany, New York