""Eyes of Laura Mars" may be a flawed picture to some degree, but it's a great semi-kinky period piece [only "semi" by today's standards], the actors are good and paranoid and appropriately overwrought, and there is an atmosphere that holds this well-directed/well-edited film together. The only faults are a couple minor quirks in the script-- like you can tell whodunit almost right away.
Irvin Kirschner, the very intelligent director who guided this (as well as "Empire Strikes Back", etc..), provides a non-stop commentary track which is interesting.
My main complaint with the DVD: as a double-sided disc, you have the option of watching it on the square "full screen" shaped for TV, or the ALLEGED widescreen--- but the widescreen here is actually the square TV-version only with the 'heads and feet' cut-off in letterbox style... In other words, you're not only missing the SIDES of the picture [as you do in a standard square TV print, of course] but they've lopped off the top and bottom to create a pseudo-widescreen version, which means you're missing a major part of the picture from ALL FOUR SIDES! (As a result, the standard, square TV version has more visual data.... but neither side of the disc gives you the actual original widescreen theatre version.)"
Great Glitzy 70's Thriller
DonnaReviews | Northeast USA | 08/17/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Yes, I also remember when "Eyes of Lara Mars" came out with comely star Faye Dunaway arrayed in some of the best fashions of the 70's as a fashion photographer who sees murders before they happen. "Eyes of Lara Mars" is fantastically put together from the dynamic opening song by Barbra Streisand to the last frame -- it's a feast for the eyes and a great mix of glitzy 70's fashion icons and suspense. At that time, with the paint not yet dried on the women's movement (dig Dunaway's bralessness in tribute to the bra-burning times), there was an apparent backlash in the fashion world. In fact, so effected was I by this, that I still have a clipping on the subject from TIME MAGAZINE, which shows the disturbing violent imagery cropping up in many fashion magazines at that time, particularly from uber-photographer Helmut Newton who specialized in dark, kinky and dynamic images featuring some of the supermodels who star in this film. It is Newton's photographs, in fact, which are used as Lara Mars' images.
Anyway, the film is loads of fun with the suspense intact and yet enough unintentional camp to keep things entertaining. As many reviewers mentioned, the scenes of Dunaway running (in stylish tartans), screaming the next victim's name are really worthwhile alone. It is especially amusing because Dunaway is required to run in knee-high, stiletto-heeled (very stylish) suede boots -- and on none-too-even pavements on the mean streets of New York. What a hoot! (How did her ankles survive it?)
It's a good cast with aside from Dunaway, Raul Julia, Tommy Lee Jones as a detective on the case (he and Dunaway in one scene become a study in Gothic bone structure, both with their hollowed cheekbones and hooded eyes), and the flamboyant Rene Auberjonois (who rather annoyed me but was nonetheless fun) as "Donnaaaaallllld." It all works and it looks mah-velous! Faye looks mighty fetching, too; with her own high-fashion-glamour elegance, she's a perfect choice for the role. Oh, the beautiful people! And dig Dunaway's boudoir in this!"
Surprisingly Good Supernatural Thriller
Kali | United Kingdom | 11/14/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was surprised at how good this film was and how creepy it was in parts. Faye Dunaway gives a fairly polished performance as the renowned but fragile photographer Laura Mars who has the uncanny ability to recreate (using live models) violent crime scenes that have taken already place. This ability does not escape the attention of a local police officer, John Neville played by Tommy Lee Jones in an early acting role. The relationship between John and Laura is both tender and brittle. Both are damaged people with secrets to hide and both fear exposure of the truth behind Laura's gift of second-sight. There is a good cast, such as Rene Auberjonois and Brad Dourif but they have minor roles, these were days before Deep Space Nine and Star Trek - Voyager. A spooky, thoughtful little movie with good camera work, vivid splashes of color and a funky 1970s sound track to accompany it. There's also a neat twist at the end of the film that took me by surprise but I won't spoil it for everyone by revealing it in this review!"
Studio 54 meets Equus
Robert Buchanan | Wisconsin | 06/09/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A stunning, appropriately photogenic murder mystery in which a controversial photographer (Faye Dunaway) apparently sees the murders of people she knows as they happen. Suspicion is evenly distributed between the titular protagonist, her catty agent (Rene Auberjonois), her driver with a violent criminal record (Brad Dourif), the detective investigating her case (Tommy Lee Jones), her drunken loser of an ex-husband (Raul Julia) and a host of other characters, most of whom are gradually eliminated as suspects after being cleared by evidence...or murdered.
Irvin Kershner's succeeding position as director of "The Empire Strikes Back" must have been assured when he helmed this film. His technique is immaculate: perfectly framed static shots, graceful, sweeping pans and hazy hand-held angles that convey the nightmarish murders from the killer's perspective are all highlights of Kershner's deft direction, and are rendered magnificent by Victor J. Kemper's lush photography.
I certainly hope that John Carpenter was well paid for this movie's excellent screenplay, the plot and characterizations of which are more complex and carefully defined than those of his own films! Carpenter has always been an inventive screenwriter, but I had no idea that he was capable of creating characters and scenarios of such nuance. The result is far superior to the psych thrillers that were far more widely celebrated over a decade after this feature's release.
Forceful performances by a fine, familiar cast make the most of this film's technical magnificence and keen story. Perfectly cast, Dunaway is as overwhelmingly emotive as she is physically striking; very few American lead actresses in contemporary films have been able to present such fervid characterizations so convincingly. It's interesting to see a couple of future stars among the ranks of the supporting roles; like the lead, these players do not disappoint.
The production design is surely an artifact of the disco-driven late '70s - the sets, costumes, music, etc. are as glittery and overwrought as anything that could be expected of the period. "Eyes of Laura Mars" isn't just a great horror mystery. It's a time capsule, a period piece that reveled in its moment just as "Wall Street" did in the '80s. But while the peculiarities of its presentation are quintessentially 1978, the quality of this classic is undeniable.
As DVD editions come, this Columbia/Sony production is quite adequate. The restoration of the 1.85:1 aspect ratio was essential; in pan-and-scan 1.33:1, it just doesn't work - every shot is either claustrophobic and/or obviously incomplete. The transfer quality is nice, taken from a slightly gritty but beautifully vibrant print. The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is just fine - unexceptional, but clear and well-balanced.
Sony's North American DVDs are all Region 1 encoded, and I don't know why they include subtitles in many of them for so many languages that aren't widely spoken in NA. Go figure! Subs for this disc are available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and Thai; the European subs are rendered in yellow text, their Asian counterparts in white. All of these are bright, easy to read and well-translated. The scene selection menus consist of twenty-eight thumbnail film stills distributed across seven screens, and are easily navigated.
Most of the special features are interesting, though none could be described as essential. Irvin Kershner's commentary track contains far too much exposition - he describes what's going on shot-by-shot, explaining what's plainly obvious while barely touching on the story's more interesting subtleties. As one of the strengths of "Eyes" is its carefully measured and limited exposition, this is hardly enjoyable. Kershner is a terrible orator who possesses an excellent memory, and the highlights of this commentary involve his reminisces concerning the film's production. He has many kind words for the cast and crew but incredibly, he doesn't ONCE mention Victor Kemper, whose gorgeous photography was so essential to this picture's success. Be forewarned - Kershner reveals the identity of the killer fairly early in this commentary, so if you haven't seen this yet, do so without it enabled.
Also included is a seven-minute promotional featurette titled "Visions," which I assume was broadcast on TV in 1978, as it's shot/matted in 1.33:1. It features a brief, decent interview with Dunaway interspersed with behind-the-scenes footage shot on location, some interesting photography of NYC and footage from the movie.
A montage of publicity photos and glamor shots of Dunaway, "Eyes on Laura" is narrated by the producer of the DVD, who explains many of the scenes, elements and details omitted from and added to the many drafts of the script that distinguish the enormous difference between John Carpenter's original story and what became the finished film.
Finally, two extra trailers for "Single White Female" and "No Mercy" serve to remind us all how Columbia and its Tri-Star subsidiary habitually threw loads of money at awful productions, even after Coca-Cola sold all of their entertainment holdings to Sony in '89."
Fabulous movie for Dunaway Fans
Robert Buchanan | 03/17/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you are a fan of Faye Dunaway, this movie is absolutely fabulous. She looks great, the story is great, and it's got a amazing soundtrack. I just love her to death. If you're not a Faye Dunaway fan, you'll probably find it a little boring and slow, however."