Eyes of Laura Mars
|Eyes of Laura Mars|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Irvin Kershner|
|Produced by||Jack H. Harris
|Written by||John Carpenter
David Zelag Goodman
Tommy Lee Jones
|Cinematography||Victor J. Kemper|
|Edited by||Michael Kahn|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Running time||104 minutes|
|Box office||$20 million|
Eyes of Laura Mars is a 1978 thriller film starring Faye Dunaway and Tommy Lee Jones and directed by Irvin Kershner. The screenplay was adapted from a spec script titled Eyes, written by John Carpenter, and would become Carpenter's first major studio film of his career.
Producer Jon Peters, who was dating Barbra Streisand at the time, bought the screenplay as a starring vehicle for the actress, but Streisand eventually decided not to take the role because of "the kinky nature of the story," as Peters later explained. As a result, the role went to Dunaway, who had just won an Oscar for her performance in Network.
Streisand nevertheless felt that "Prisoner", the torch song from the film, would be a good power ballad vehicle for her. She sang it on the soundtrack and garnered a moderate hit as a result (the record peaked at #21 on the Billboard Hot 100).
Laura Mars (Faye Dunaway) is a glamorous fashion photographer who specializes in stylized violence. Amid controversy over whether her photographs glorify violence and are demeaning to women, Laura begins seeing, in first person through the eyes of the killer, real-time visions of the murders of her friends and colleagues.
John Neville (Tommy Lee Jones), the lieutenant in charge of the case, shows Laura unpublished police photographs of unsolved murders that very closely mirror Laura's fashion shoots. Laura's visions continue, including visions of the killer stalking her and continuing to murder those around her. Meanwhile, Laura and Neville fall in love. The murders continue as Laura's various colleagues, acquaintances and past romantic interests come in and out of focus as potential suspects or victims, until a final confrontation between Laura and the killer occurs.
At her apartment, Laura is affected by one last vision of the killer, who has now come for her. The killer attempts to break in through her front door, but Laura deadbolts it before he/she can enter. Upon hearing her distress, Neville (who had been on his way to meet her) breaks through her balcony window. He proceeds to tell Laura they have caught the killer, a troubled colleague of hers named Tommy, and begins an elaborate explanation of Tommy's motivations and back story. Knowing Tommy well, Laura recognizes this as a lie and that Neville himself is the killer. As Neville details more of his own story, it is implied that he may have multiple personalities. Because of this, and his love for her, he cannot bring himself to murder her and instead asks that she end his life. She shoots him dead, calling the police as we close in on her eyes -- the eyes of Laura Mars.
- Faye Dunaway as Laura Mars
- Tommy Lee Jones as Lieutenant John Neville
- Brad Dourif as Tommy Ludlow
- Rene Auberjonois as Donald Phelps
- Raúl Juliá as Michael Reisler
- Frank Adonis as Sal Volpe
- Lisa Taylor as Michelle
- Darlanne Fluegel as Lulu
- Rose Gregorio as Elaine Cassel
- Bill Boggs as Himself
- Steve Marachuk as Robert
- Meg Mundy as Doris Spenser
- Marilyn Meyers as Sheila Weissman
Production began on October 17, 1977. The film was shot entirely in New York and New Jersey. A memorable sequence where the Laura Mars character photographs a group of models against a backdrop of two burning cars was filmed over four days at New York's Columbus Circle. The $7 million production wrapped on January 9, 1978, after 56 days of filming. It was reported that Peters and Dunaway had a tense relationship while making the film, and that Streisand visited the set on a few occasions.
The movie received a broadly positive review in The New York Times, in which Janet Maslin called the ending of the film "dumb," but otherwise liked it. She wrote of it: "It's the cleverness of Eyes of Laura Mars that counts, cleverness that manifests itself in superlative casting, drily controlled direction from Irvin Kershner, and spectacular settings that turn New York into the kind of eerie, lavish dreamland that could exist only in the idle noodlings of the very, very hip."
As of May 2010, the film had only a 47% fresh rating on the Rotten Tomatoes movie review website.
On its release, the film received mixed critical reviews, but it was a box office hit, earning $20 million from a $7 million budget.
In popular culture
- In the Malcolm in the Middle episode "Lois Battles Jamie", a flashback scene shows that Francis broke Hal's Laserdisc copy of the film.
- Tori Amos refers to Laura Mars in her song "Gold Dust", off the 2002-album "Scarlet's Walk".
- A parody of the film titled Eyes of Lurid Mess was published in Mad Magazine. It was illustrated by Angelo Torres and written by Larry Siegel in regular issue #206, April 1979.
- The video for "Black White & Blue" by Ladyhawke makes several visual references to the film.
- Richard Nowell, Blood Money: A History of the First Teen Slasher Film Cycle Continuum, 2011 p 257
- "Screen: 'Eyes of Laura Mars':In The Netherworld," Janet Maslin, The New York Times, August 4, 1978
- Ebert's review
- Rotten Tomatoes.com
- MAD Cover Site, MAD #206 April 1979.
- Eyes of Laura Mars at the Internet Movie Database
- Eyes of Laura Mars at AllMovie
- Eyes of Laura Mars at Box Office Mojo
- Eyes of Laura Mars at Rotten Tomatoes