“Pretty Little Liars” film noir episode airs Tuesday (Feb. 11), which will transport viewers back in time to the gritty mystery movies of the 1940s. Executive producer Joseph Dougherty, who wrote and directed the episode, tells Zap2it that he never intended this to be a send-up of those films. This is the real deal.
“It was never meant to be a parody, we always wanted it to look and feel
as if it was real — and for the most part, it’s very scrupulously what
it would have looked like [back then],” says Dougherty. “I actually wrote that in the script, ‘This
is not a parody, this is the genuine article.’ I wanted to make it real … [and I said] for this to work, it’s going to have to be as beautiful as possible.”
That doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t references to classic film noir movies, which sometimes even surprised the writer. “I’m as surprised that I made as many references to ‘Laura’ as I
did. I realized I was going to put Ali’s painting up there, but there’s
the scene between Toby and Spencer in the interrogation room — that’s
the only time I actually brought images from a scene, it’s the scene
between Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney in ‘Laura.’
“Laura” is a 1944 thriller directed by Otto Preminger, which heavily influences the “Pretty Little Liars” episode, alongside some references to the 1942 horror film “Cat People,” the 1955 mystery “The Big Combo” and several Orson Welles projects. “I wanted not to make it just a collection of quotes,” says Dougherty. “I wanted to get the feeling in your bones for this heightened world.”
In addition to scene or line references, the costumes are also sometimes emulating someone from that time period. “We were thinking very Lauren Bacall for Troian [Bellisario], I was thinking kind of Ava Gardner for Shay [Mitchell], but I know in [designer Mandi Line‘s] mind, she opened it up a little bit to Sophia Loren in the ’50s,” says Dougherty.
“You want to be open to things. There are things I never would’ve thought to ask for, like Troian’s coat with the huge fur collar,” he adds. “I don’t think I would’ve picked that, but it kind of works. It frames her face.”
“Shadow Play” premieres Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC Family. Check back here at Zap2it for a post-game interview with Dougherty about what the plot twists mean for the show.