Showing posts with label Faye Dunaway. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Faye Dunaway. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Eyes of Laura Mars (1978)

Directed by Irvin Kershner
Starring Faye Dunaway, Tommy Lee Jones
Rated R

“I'm completely out of control!”

I was nine when this much-hyped film came out in '78. I remember seeing the TV spots and correctly pegging it as 'grown-up stuff'. Well, now I'm pretty much 'grown-up', so I figured it was high-time I checked it out. Laura Mars is a “psychological thriller” about a controversial and very successful fashion photographer (Faye Dunaway, as the titular Mars) whose ultra-violent fashion mag spreads closely resemble a series of unsolved murders that occurred in NYC a couple years prior. Even worse, a new spate of murders – all models this time, and all of them friends/associates of Laura's – is underway, and Laura keeps having episodes wherein she catches POV glimpses of the murders.

Tommy Lee Jones co-stars as the detective on the case. He eventually falls in love with her, which muddies up the investigation considerably. Also, there's a good baker's dozen of potential killers/red herrings all around her, including Raul Julia as her rape-y ex-husband and various loony assistants and hangers-on, including creepout character actors Brad Dourif and Rene Auberjonois. Eventually, all the could-be killers get eye-stabbed to death, which brings us to the shock-twist ending. Of course, anyone who's ever seen a movie, ever, in their entire lives, will have already guessed the ending in the first five minutes. But hey, life's a journey, not a destination.

So, bad news first: Eyes of Laura Mars is pretty dull. Dunaway is pretty much sleep-walking through the whole thing, the surprise ending is hardly a surprise, and for an R-rated film, it's pretty tame. I mean, it's about an eyeball killer, and there's no eye-gore? Also, it mostly just looks and feels like an extra long episode of any generic cop show of the era. Jones could easily be replaced by Kojak or Ironside or Starsky and/or Hutch, and none would be the wiser.

There are, however, a few meager rewards for your time and effort: Laura's apocalyptic photo-shoots are pretty cool, there's some brief-but-tasty model nudity, Barbara Steisand's overwrought disco-dirge theme song is awesome (Babs was originally slated to play Laura, but backed out somewhere along the way), there's some random zaniness along the way (what's with the out-of-nowhere dwarf?), and there's some nicely gritty shots of pre-Disneyfied NYC. Also, John Carpenter wrote the script. That seems notable.

So, there you go. My nine-year old instincts were correct. The Eyes of Laura Mars is definitely for grown-ups. Boring grown-ups. If you're looking for primo Dunaway, stick with Bonnie and Clyde or Chinatown and leave this bloodless thriller on the shelf.

PS director Kershner followed this up with The Empire Strikes Back!

- Ken 


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