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Case Number 27378: Small Claims Court

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The Eyes of Laura Mars (1978)

Sony // 1978 // 103 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // May 26th, 2014

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All Rise...

Experience this stinker through the nose of Judge Patrick Naugle.

The Charge

The "eyes" have it.

The Case

Laura Mars (Faye Dunaway, The Temp) is one of the biggest and most successful fashion photographers in the world. Her new work, which has been courting much controversy, deals with stylized violence and naked women. As Laura is tinkering away on her new project she begins to have visions of a maniacal killer slaughtering her friends and co-workers. Laura's visions prove true when actual corpses start to show up, and Lt. John Neville (Tommy Lee Jones, Batman Forever) is brought in to help solve the case. As Laura's colleagues fall victim to a faceless madman, John and Laura find themselves drawn to each other even though they come from different backgrounds. Will the clairvoyant Laura and working class John be able to keep their relationship going? Is Laura next on the killer's list? And when did Tommy Lee Jones get a full head of hair?

The Eyes of Laura Mars is a movie that features the director of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, the star of Lincoln, the writer of Halloween, and the execution of a fart following an all-you-can-eat Taco Bell feast. It's a movie that is so dripping in 1970s sleaze that it actually makes Rick James look like a saint. I was immensely bored by The Eyes of Laura Mars, which is no small feat considering how many naked women are photographed in this movie. Half way through I fell asleep, but don't worry, I woke back up and finished it so you wouldn't have to. Count yourself lucky.

There isn't an actor in The Eyes of Laura Mars that comes away clean and free of its rancid taint. Faye Dunaway, who proved herself a cinematic force in the classic Bonnie and Clyde, sleepwalks through her role as the angst-ridden Laura Mars, who appears to have mysterious visions of various murders, none of which are all that interesting. Tommy Lee Jones—who looks like he's trying really hard to be an actor—brings his typical Tommy Lee Jones uber-intensity to the role of John Neville, the lieutenant who is in charge of Laura's case. Everyone seems to be overacting, including a bearded Brad Dourif (who would go on to better success in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,and as the voice of Chucky in the Child's Play series) as fellow fashion photographer, and Rene Auberjonois (as well as his bouffant hairdo) as one of Laura's staff, who can now officially remove Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach as the worst movie on his resume.

The screenplay is by the legendary John Carpenter (The Thing), one of my favorite filmmakers. Apparently, he just needed to get this one dud out of his system before moving on to become the master of horror. Carpenter's dizzyingly successful thriller Halloween would hit only a few months later in 1978, which may be why no one really seems to recall he was associated with this film. Director Irvin Kershner shepherds everyone with the nuance of a Ford Pinto crashing into Studio 54. However, the blame may not completely fall on Kershner as The Eyes of Laura Mars was produced by Jon Peters (A Star is Born), a man who has never been known for his tact or restraint. Peters had originally produced the film with his girlfriend, Barbra Streisand, in mind as the leading lady. Streisand smartly deduced this wasn't the starring vehicle for her due to all the kinky sexual undertones. However, Barbra did record the theme song, although I'm not sure that's much of a consolation prize for the viewer. Once the film finally reaches its conclusion (after what seems like an eternity), you will feel both ripped off and generally amused at the "twist" ending. I sure was.

Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, this Sony MOD (made on demand) transfer is decent, if not overwhelmingly great. There are some minor defects in the print, though they aren't terrible and don't detract from the viewing. Colors and black levels are appropriate, and nothing more. There isn't a whole lot to say about this Dolby 1.0 Mono mix. The dialogue, music, and effects are easily distinguishable. No alternate soundtracks or subtitles. Bonus features include a commentary from director Irvin Kershner, a short making-of featurette, and a photo gallery.

I'm positive that The Eyes of Laura Mars has its supporters. I could see the movie easily gaining cult status, although I'm not aware of any fan clubs in the immediate area. There's a general clunky execution that lends itself to midnight showings and people yelling at the screen, although the things I wanted to yell were not what you'd consider constructive criticism.

The Verdict

This one should be blinded…forever.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 55

Perp Profile

Studio: Sony
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 103 Minutes
Release Year: 1978
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Crime
• Mystery
• Suspense
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary
• Featurette
• Gallery


• IMDb

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