… Laura: the leading man.
In Laura (1944), starring Dana Andrews, Mark is a detective investigating Laura’s apparent homicide. He falls in love with the leading lady (of course), and he embarks on a relationship with her even while the pretentious people around him question his worthiness to be with her.
Mark isn’t rich. He isn’t ugly, but he’s not shiny or pretty-boy or muscle-bound. He’s smart and capable; he’s a competent and respected detective. He’s not grizzled. He’s not a twenty-year-old novice. He’s not quirky or irascible or bumbling or ninja. He doesn’t buck authority or make his own rules – he solves the crime using established investigative techniques and deductive reasoning. If he has a past, it’s never presented. He’s forthright in his attraction to the leading lady, but not pushy or sleazy. He’s not closed off. He’s not emotionless. He’s not moody.
Basically, Mark is an ordinary guy. He’s a completely, totally, entirely normal guy – and that’s more than good enough. He gets the girl, he saves her life, he catches the bad guys. He wins.
In a world where men (and women) are pressured to look a certain way – a way that’s really not possible for most people on the planet – it’s wonderful to see a leading man who’s just … regular.
In a world where movies and television series are increasingly addicted to characters with quirky behaviours, difficult pasts, bizarre relationships, dark secrets, weird skills and talents, maverick tendencies, etc., etc., etc. – it’s refreshing to have a story that focuses on the story, and a detective who’s just … Mark.