Eyes of Laura Mars (1978)

directed by irvin kershner
columbia pictures

When it comes to mysteries, I’m the quintessential mark. It’s that character! No, that one! Wait, it’s probably her! Every time. How bad is it? I kept waffling about the probable identity of the killer whose dastardly exploits are viewed through Laura’s Eyes, even though this movie is 40 years old and I’ve read about it multiple times. Anyway, this production – written by John Carpenter for his first major film credit – knowingly manipulates its audience with suspenseful close-ups of René Auberjonois, our old pal Brad Dourif, the late Raúl Juliá, and other, less famous actors. Nonetheless, even a major misdirection in the late going doesn’t deter one from deducing the SHOCKING ending, especially as it’s telegraphed shortly beforehand. More “thriller” than “horror,” but it IS chock full o’ murders, death, and images thereof. The maudlin “Prisoner (Love Theme from Eyes of Laura Mars)” blares over the end credits, Barbra Streisand holding nothing back.

why did i watch this movie?

As noted, I was familiar with this picture from various compendia, and also MAD Magazine, so I figured I should finally see it, especially as I was interested in comparing it to Jennifer Jason Leigh’s 1981 debut, Eyes of a Stranger.

should you watch this movie?

Are you a John Carpenter completist? Really interested in what movie Kershner helmed right before The Empire Strikes Back? Brad Dourif?

highlight and low point

I suppose that the then-topical examination of the impact on society of violence in the arts – as exemplified here by Helmut Newton’s photography posing as Laura’s – is kind of interesting in regard to contemporary culture, and a look at New York’s glamour scene during a transitional period for the city before the vast changes of the ’80s will always fascinate me. The dialogue between Tommy Lee Jones and Faye Dunaway during their big love scene is absolutely laughable.

rating from outer space: c−

© 1979 E.C. Publications, Inc.

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