The film “Eyes of Laura Mars” stars Oscar winner Faye Dunaway (Network) as the title character. She is both a celebrated and reviled fashion photographer, based out of New York City. Her pictures, as the movie eludes to, depending on one’s point-of-view, are considered either empowering or exploitative. Prior to the opening of a show featuring her newest work, she has a terrible dream. In the dream, she witnesses the murder of someone she knows. These sorts of visions, pertaining to other individuals, will continue to haunt her throughout the remainder of the film. While meeting guests at her show, she begins speaking with Detective John Neville. She doesn’t know he’s a member of law enforcement, and he doesn’t know he’s talking to the person whose pictures are being exhibited. The character is portrayed by Oscar winner, Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive). He is one of those people who thinks Laura’s work is trash, an opinion he expresses to her.
Laura loves her work, but her visions begin to get the best of her. Her agent Donald Phelps, played by two time Emmy nominee René Auberjonois (The Practice), is coaxing her to continue, because jobs and a great deal of money are at stake, regarding the latest project she has signed on to shoot. Further complicating matters for Laura, is the return of her alcoholic, broke, ex-husband, Michael, a role acted by Golden Globe winner Raul Julia (The Burning Season). He is a former successful author, who blames Laura for not being able to write anything new for the past six years. Michael, it will turn out, will be the least of her problems. The murders of people Laura knows, friends and those she’s currently working with, or has worked with in the past, continues to happen. This in turn leads to her being given police protection. Ironically, Detective Neville is assigned to take lead on the case. He begins spending a good deal of time with Laura, and gradually begins to change his opinion of her. (As an aside: Bert, the head of the company that Laura is working for on her latest project is played by three time Emmy nomine Michael Tucker. Fans of the television show L.A. Law, should easily recognize him as the actor, who portrayed the character of Stuart Markowitz, during the series).
Who is the killer? Could it be Michael, wanting to mess with Laura’s head as a some sort of warped form of revenge? Is it Tommy? He’s Laura’s ex-con, chauffeur. The part is acted by Oscar nominee and BAFTA winner Brad Dourif (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). Is one of Laura’s models, who don’t think they’re getting enough of the spotlight, committing the murders? Could it be Laura’s agent, who doesn’t want to deal anymore with the negative press associated with her? Is it someone viewers won’t even suspect until the final reveal? The identity of the killer will be known by the film’s conclusion. (As an aside: Brad Dourif is perhaps most famous for playing Charles Lee Ray and voicing the character of Chucky in Child’s Play (1988). He also voiced the character in six subsequent sequels, as well as the ten episodes of the new Chucky television series, which is currently airing on Tuesday evenings at 10pm on the USA Network).
“The Eyes of Laura Mars” was directed by Emmy nominee Irvin Kershner (Raid on Entebbe). John Carpenter (Halloween) co-wrote the screenplay with Oscar nominee David Zelag Goodman (Lovers and other Strangers). The film marked the first time Carpenter worked for a major studio (Colombia Pictures). Furthermore, actor Tommy Lee Jones wrote a monologue for the film, but didn’t take credit. Parts horror, mystery, and thriller, the film has a runtime of 104 minutes. Several actresses were considered for the role of Laura Mars, for example, Oscar winner, Goldie Hawn (Cactus Flower). Two time Oscar winner and eight time Grammy winner, Barbara Streisand (Funny Girl) was set to star in the film, but in the end passed on the role. She did, however, sing “Prisoner” the theme song for the film; making it the only movie in which she has sung the theme song, but didn’t appear in the film.
The film was reasonably well paced, The acting by the cast as a whole was competent. Various locations in New York City were utilized well; it wasn’t a set designed to look like New York, which gave the film more authenticity. The death scenes were shot with enough clever camera work and tension, so as to not be relegated to B movie slasher style. There is no gore contained within the murder scenes, it is implied. Overall, while not something I am going to watch again anytime soon, it held my interest from start to finish.