FTP: Eyes of Laura Mars (1978)

MAY 10, 2022


The mostly American slasher film is more or less evolved (or devolved) from the European giallo film, but that doesn't mean the Americans didn't attempt to do something more giallo-y from time to time. What's funny is that one of the most famous is 1978's Eyes of Laura Mars, which is co-written by none other than John Carpenter, who cemented the slasher with Halloween in the very same year. Carpenter doesn't have much nice to say about the film; it was a script he wrote that was rewritten (and rewritten again after that if I'm understanding) and made without his involvement, so attributing it to him is akin to giving him credit/blaming him for something like Halloween 5.

Anyway, it's a decent little thriller. Faye Dunaway is the titular Laura, a fashion photographer who starts seeing murders as they happen (kind of a useless skill since it's too late to stop them), and Tommy Lee Jones is the detective who at first suspects she's involved and then falls in love with her as he starts to believe her/becomes a protector. We know she's not the killer, but the victims are all connected to her in some way, a plot that sadly means anyone who has ever seen a movie before can probably figure out who the culprit is by the halfway point or so. Whether this was an inherent flaw that dates back to Carpenter's script and was never fixed, or is something that occurred via the rewrites, I don't know. All I know is I wish it was more of a surprise.

What WAS a surprise was seeing Jones in a romantic, good-natured kind of role. There's a part where he is interviewing a pair of ditzy models and clearly amused by how dumb they are, and it's possibly the first time I've ever seen him in a scene that you could imagine Ryan Reynolds or someone like that doing instead. I mean I've seen him go BIG (Batman Forever, for example) but this kind of low-key charm is definitely a change of pace, and if there are more performances like that from him I hope I stumbled across them someday. I also loved Raul Julia (billed as simply "R.J" for whatever reason) as Dunaway's pathetic ex, another against type performance from someone who usually has a commanding presence, a guy you don't want to mess with or simply the coolest guy in the room. The only other time I remember seeing him as a loser was in Overdrawn at the Memory Bank! And he's worse here, like a worthless anteater.

Supposedly this movie is what got director Irvin Kershner the gig on Empire Strikes Back, but I have to assume from both his filmography as a whole and his commentary track here that he's perhaps not the most interesting guy in the world and his successes are largely due to the other people around him as opposed to what he was bringing to the table. In fact I didn't even finish the commentary because it was that dull; he mostly just narrates the movie as if it were hard to follow, only occasionally dipping into insight or behind the scenes info (if I'm understanding him correctly, Julia's in the movie because he happened to be in the hotel where they were shooting something else, and he had the idea to cast him?). After an hour I figured life was too short to listen to the rest since I wasn't learning anything about a movie that wasn't particularly memorable to begin with. I have the novelization though (chalk it up to my longtime habit of buying anything remotely Carpenter related), maybe I'll give it a look someday. Might be fun to be inside the head of the killer, if that's offered.

What say you?

P.S. I literally had no idea I owned this disc (which you can buy HERE, Amazon has retired the little window ads), which I've been wanting to see for a while due to the Carpenter connection. How/when it ended up in the pile is a mystery more involving than the one in the film!


Post a Comment

Movie & TV Show Preview Widget