Eyes of Laura Mars (1978)

R | 103 mins | Horror | 2 August 1978

Director:

Irvin Kershner

Producer:

Jon Peters

Cinematographer:

Victor J. Kemper

Editor:

Michael Kahn

Production Designer:

Gene Callahan

Production Company:

Columbia Pictures
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HISTORY

The working title was Eyes, but, according to an item in the 28 Apr 1978 HR, producer Jon Peters changed the title to The Eyes of Laura Mars as soon as filming wrapped. Although the 7 Jul 1978 HR also refers to the movie’s title as The Eyes of Laura Mars, the final title is simply Eyes of Laura Mars.
       End credits list Raul Julia’s full name but opening credits list him only as R.J.
       The end credits listing “Gallery Photographs by Helmut Newton,” “Special Photographic Consultant Rebecca Blake” and “Eyes of Mars Photographs by Rebecca Blake” were disputed by Rebecca Blake. An article in the 11 Sep 1978 LAHEXam reported Blake’s contention that just two of Newton’s photographs appeared in the opening scene at a gallery, and the rest of the photographs exhibited were Blake’s. Executive producer Jack Harris disagreed and said that approximately six of Newton’s photographs were used in that scene. Harris stated they were legally required to give a credit to Newton, so he received the gallery credit while Blake got the other two credits for her work. Harris also noted that an exhibit in New York of Blake’s photographs was financed as part of the film’s publicity. Blake’s 4 Sep 1978 letter to the editor of Village Voice acknowledged that her collection “Through the Eyes of Rebecca Blake,” which included photographs taken for Eyes of Laura Mars, was exhibited at the opening night party. She chose to pursue legal action, however, because the “misrepresentation of who did what ... More Less

The working title was Eyes, but, according to an item in the 28 Apr 1978 HR, producer Jon Peters changed the title to The Eyes of Laura Mars as soon as filming wrapped. Although the 7 Jul 1978 HR also refers to the movie’s title as The Eyes of Laura Mars, the final title is simply Eyes of Laura Mars.
       End credits list Raul Julia’s full name but opening credits list him only as R.J.
       The end credits listing “Gallery Photographs by Helmut Newton,” “Special Photographic Consultant Rebecca Blake” and “Eyes of Mars Photographs by Rebecca Blake” were disputed by Rebecca Blake. An article in the 11 Sep 1978 LAHEXam reported Blake’s contention that just two of Newton’s photographs appeared in the opening scene at a gallery, and the rest of the photographs exhibited were Blake’s. Executive producer Jack Harris disagreed and said that approximately six of Newton’s photographs were used in that scene. Harris stated they were legally required to give a credit to Newton, so he received the gallery credit while Blake got the other two credits for her work. Harris also noted that an exhibit in New York of Blake’s photographs was financed as part of the film’s publicity. Blake’s 4 Sep 1978 letter to the editor of Village Voice acknowledged that her collection “Through the Eyes of Rebecca Blake,” which included photographs taken for Eyes of Laura Mars, was exhibited at the opening night party. She chose to pursue legal action, however, because the “misrepresentation of who did what caused her embarrassment both personally and professionally.” An item in the 26 Jul 1980 NYT reported that Blake’s lawsuit against producer Jon Peters and Columbia Pictures had been settled. Blake received financial compensation and acknowledgment that her work was not accurately credited in the film.
       A 26 Jul 1976 HR item reported that, after two years on the project, Jon Peters had finished work with John Carpenter on the screenplay based on Carpenter’s idea. An article in the 15 Feb 1978 LAT reported the there were five writers on Eyes of Laura Mars, including Carpenter and playwright Julian Barry. According to an article in the 26 Aug 1976 LAT, director Michael Miller said he was also working on Carpenter’s script but Miller left the production due to “creative differences” and David Zelag Goodman was hired to work on the script. Final screen credit was attributed as “Screenplay by John Carpenter and David Zelag Goodman” and “Story by John Carpenter.” Irvin Kershner replaced Miller as director.
       According to Army Archerd’s column in the 29 Aug 1977 DV, Faye Dunaway would receive $1 million for starring in the film. A 3 Aug 1977 LAHExam item reported that Faye Dunaway would decide on her leading man, but he would not be another famous actor since this was a starring vehicle for Dunaway. The 13 Apr 1978 LAT noted this would be Dunaway’s first film since receiving an Academy Award for Network. Items in the 5 Oct 1977 HR and the 5 Oct 1977 DV noted that real-life fashion models Lisa Taylor and Darlanne Fleugel would make their screen debuts in the film. A 21 Oct 1977 DV item reported it was also the film debut of Bill Boggs, a NY television celebrity.
       A 26 Jul 1976 HR article noted that the film would be the first in Jon Peters’ three-picture deal with Columbia Pictures. The project was budgeted at approximately $3 million with a planned February start. An article in the 18 Nov 1977 HR reported this was Peters’ first time producing by himself. He had previously shared producing responsibilities with his then girlfriend, Barbra Streisand, on A Star Is Born, which, according to an interview in the 13 Apr 1978 LAT, would have been extremely difficult for any novice producer, let alone someone whose background was in hairdressing. And now Peters was working with another strong-willed actress. The article reported Dunaway was nervous about her first post-Oscar film, was struggling in her marriage to Peter Wolf and had to lose forty pounds for the movie. Peters noted it was a difficult and emotional set, but felt that his nineteen years as a hairdresser made him adept in that type of environment. Additionally, as reported in 17 Oct 1977 People, his hairdressing background also came into play when the hands-on producer flew to New York to color Dunaway’s hair during production.
       Filming began in New York on 17 Oct 1977. According to the 18 Nov 1977 HR, Peters wanted to keep “the provocative visuals, unusual photographic tricks and twist-plot” a surprise. He also insisted on secrecy so that TV networks or low budget producers could not copy the story and rush out inexpensive versions. Indoor sets were closed, but outdoor shooting was not so private, therefore those scenes were set up so that observers would not necessarily understand exactly what was happening. For example, according to production notes from the AMPAS library, a sequence filmed over four days at Columbus Circle in New York City involved a moment where Faye Dunaway seemed unable to finish the scene. Bystanders did not fully understand she was playing a pivotal scene in the movie. Production notes also reported that, unbeknownst to pedestrians, hidden cameras filmed a chase sequence featuring Tommy Lee Jones and Brad Dourif in New York’s “Hell’s Kitchen.” The photography studio was filmed by the Hudson River in a deserted passenger terminal that had plenty of room for the various set requirements, including an overhead walkway, a glassed atrium and an indoor pool. Filming of the “Soho art gallery” exhibition actually took place at the Jersey City Armory. The movie also filmed at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. An item in the 11 Jan 1978 Var reported the film shot entirely in New York and New Jersey, and the 56 day shoot ended with a car crash filmed on East 106th Street.
       A 15 Feb 1978 LAT article reported that the secrecy continued throughout the editing process, and Peters allowed only the projectionist and editor, Michael Kahn, in the editing room. Columbia had moved the film’s release from September to July, and editing was due to be finalized in mid-April. The 5 Jul 1978 Var reported the movie would be released on August 2 after a “tri-pronged $6 million pre-sell campaign.” Peters, as head of the J.P. Organization, felt that management of the campaign by his company was critical to its success. Peters’ duplicated his promotional campaign from A Star Is Born by setting up radio spots, pre-selling an Eyes of Laura Mars Bantam paperback book, and releasing the soundtrack album in mid-July. Barbra Streisand did not appear in the film, but a 7 Jul 1978 HR article noted she sang the title song. Streisand’s single, “The Theme from Laura Mars (Prisoner)” would be released before the movie opened because, as noted in the 5 Jul 1978 Var article, Peters’ planned to create a hit song to help build advance interest in the film. As noted in the 7 Jul 1978 HR article, Streisand’s music label, Columbia, was not affiliated with Columbia Pictures, which had its own recording label, Arista.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
29 Aug 1977.
---
Daily Variety
5 Oct 1977.
---
Daily Variety
21 Oct 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jul 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Oct 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Nov 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Apr 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jul 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Aug 1978
p. 3, 9.
LAHEXam
3 Aug 1977.
---
LAHEXam
11 Sep 1978.
---
Los Angeles Times
26 Aug 1976.
---
Los Angeles Times
15 Feb 1978
p. 16.
Los Angeles Times
13 Apr 1978
p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
3 Aug 1978
p. 10.
New York Times
4 Aug 1978
p. 10.
New York Times
26 Jul 1980.
---
People
17 Oct 1977.
---
Variety
11 Jan 1978.
---
Variety
5 Jul 1978.
---
Variety
2 Aug 1978
p. 14.
Village Voice
4 Sep 1978.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Columbia Pictures Presents
A Jon Peters Production
An Irvin Kershner Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr/Asst dir
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Gallery photog
Spec photog consultant
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Still man
Key grip
Gaffer
Eyes of Mars photog
Chem-Tone negative processing
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Scenic chargeman
Prop master
COSTUMES
Ward for Ms. Dunaway
Men`s cost
Women`s cost
MUSIC
Mus ed
SOUND
Sd mixer
Dubbing mixer
Dubbing mixer
Dubbing mixer
Sd eff creation
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstyles for Ms. Dunaway
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod exec
Casting supv
Spec project asst
Scr supv
Project asst
Project asst
Project asst
Asst to Mr. Kershner
Asst to Ms. Aldredge
Loc auditor
Unit pub
Prod office coord
Transportation capt
STAND INS
Stunt-person
Stunt-person
Stunt-person
Stunt-person
Stunt-person
Stunt coord
SOURCES
SONGS
"Love Theme from Eyes of Laura Mars (Prisoner)," sung by Barbra Streisand, words and music by Karen Lawrence & John Desautels, produced by Gary Klein
"Burn," written and performed by Michalski & Oosterveen, produced by Ken Scott, courtesy of CBS Records
"Native New Yorker," performed by Odyssey, written by Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell, produced by Sandy Linzer & Charlie Calello, courtesy RCA Records
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SONGS
"Love Theme from Eyes of Laura Mars (Prisoner)," sung by Barbra Streisand, words and music by Karen Lawrence & John Desautels, produced by Gary Klein
"Burn," written and performed by Michalski & Oosterveen, produced by Ken Scott, courtesy of CBS Records
"Native New Yorker," performed by Odyssey, written by Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell, produced by Sandy Linzer & Charlie Calello, courtesy RCA Records
"(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty," performed by K.C. and the Sunshine Band, written by Harry Wayne Casey and Rick Finch, produced by K.C.-Finch for Sunshine Sound Enterprises Inc., courtesy of T.K. Records
"Let's All Chant," performed by The Michael Zager Band, written by Alvin J. Fields and Michael Zager, produced, arranged, and conducted by Michael Zager, courtesy of Private Stock Records Ltd.
"Boogie Nights," performed by Heatwave, written by Rodney Lynn Temperton, produced by Bobby Blue, courtesy of Epic Records.
+
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
2 August 1978
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 2 August 1978
New York opening: week of 4 August 1978
Production Date:
17 October 1977 - early January 1978
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
Copyright Date:
3 October 1978
Copyright Number:
PA16190
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Filmed with Panavision® Equipment
Duration(in mins):
103
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25251
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Laura Mars is a successful New York fashion photographer celebrating the publication of her book “The Eyes of Mars.” Laura dreams that a killer leafs through her book, cuts out the photograph of her editor, Doris Spenser, and stabs Doris in the eye with an ice pick. Laura awakens and calls Doris, but there is no answer. The next evening, Laura’s limo driver, Tommy, drops her off at Elaine Cassell’s gallery exhibition celebrating Laura’s book. Laura’s agent, Donald Phelps, and her models, Lulu and Michelle, are among the guests. Laura’s violent photos of the beautiful models are controversial. One man who does not recognize Laura tells her it is tragic this kind of “junk” passes for art. Everyone is shocked when police arrive with news of Doris Spenser’s murder. The next day, Laura’s photo shoot centers on a fiery car accident staged behind models pretending to fight. Laura captures it with her camera, but is stopped momentarily by a disturbing “vision” of someone following Elaine Cassell. After the photo shoot, Laura rushes to Elaine’s place but is stopped by another vision as the killer stabs Elaine’s eye with an ice pick. The police are already at Elaine’s building when Laura pushes her way through the crowd. Laura blurts out that she saw Elaine’s murder, but has to admit she was blocks away. Laura tries to leave but the cops take her in for questioning. Everyone from the photo shoot is also brought to the police station, including Tommy, who has a police record. Detective John Neville questions Laura and she recognizes him as the ... +


Laura Mars is a successful New York fashion photographer celebrating the publication of her book “The Eyes of Mars.” Laura dreams that a killer leafs through her book, cuts out the photograph of her editor, Doris Spenser, and stabs Doris in the eye with an ice pick. Laura awakens and calls Doris, but there is no answer. The next evening, Laura’s limo driver, Tommy, drops her off at Elaine Cassell’s gallery exhibition celebrating Laura’s book. Laura’s agent, Donald Phelps, and her models, Lulu and Michelle, are among the guests. Laura’s violent photos of the beautiful models are controversial. One man who does not recognize Laura tells her it is tragic this kind of “junk” passes for art. Everyone is shocked when police arrive with news of Doris Spenser’s murder. The next day, Laura’s photo shoot centers on a fiery car accident staged behind models pretending to fight. Laura captures it with her camera, but is stopped momentarily by a disturbing “vision” of someone following Elaine Cassell. After the photo shoot, Laura rushes to Elaine’s place but is stopped by another vision as the killer stabs Elaine’s eye with an ice pick. The police are already at Elaine’s building when Laura pushes her way through the crowd. Laura blurts out that she saw Elaine’s murder, but has to admit she was blocks away. Laura tries to leave but the cops take her in for questioning. Everyone from the photo shoot is also brought to the police station, including Tommy, who has a police record. Detective John Neville questions Laura and she recognizes him as the man from her gallery showing. Neville is not sure what to think about her “visions” and shows her classified police photographs of several unsolved murders. Photos from Laura’s book are almost exact duplicates of these crimes. Laura is disturbed that the police photographs were taken at the same time she started to use violent images in her work. Neville takes her to Elaine’s apartment where Laura learns that her own alcoholic, ex-husband, Michael, has been living with Elaine and is now on the run. When Laura returns home, Michael is waiting. He claims to be innocent and says he still loves Laura. They argue until Laura gives him money and he leaves. The next morning, Tommy drives Laura and Donald to her waterfront studio for another photo shoot. Things become tense when Donald urges Laura not to talk about her psychic visions, and Tommy confesses he has a prison record. At the warehouse studio, Laura is upstairs alone when she has another vision from the killer’s point of view as he comes up the stairs behind her. She runs blindly across the warehouse, unable to see what is in front of her. All she can see is what the killer sees as he chases her. The vision ends when Donald reaches her on the stairway. They call the police but Donald talks Laura into proceeding with the photo shoot. Laura tries to photograph the high fashion “murder scene,” but is so upset she cannot continue. Neville arrives as the shoot is cancelled. They do not realize Michael watches them from another building while Neville questions Laura about her visions. Next, Neville questions Lulu and Michelle at the police station about any crazy fan letters they might have received. Laura works in her darkroom that night when she has a vision of Lulu and Michelle being murdered, each with an ice pick in the eye. Laura frantically calls, but they are dead. After the models’ funeral, Neville offers to drive Laura home. Laura is upset and does not want to rush back to the city, so they take a walk in the woods. They finally admit to their strong mutual attraction and end up making love at her studio. Before he returns to work, Neville gives Laura a gun for protection. That night, Tommy drives Laura to Donald’s birthday party, and she asks him to return in an hour to pick her up. Laura receives a call from Michael during the party. He is drunk and needs her help. Donald is worried that Michael will kill Laura but she insists he is not a murderer. She does not want to lead the police to Michael, so Donald impersonates Laura, and strolls out of his building. The police follow him as Laura drives off in Donald’s car. As she drives, Laura “sees” through the eyes of the killer who follows Donald back into the building, gets on the elevator and stabs an ice pick into Donald’s eye. Laura crashes the car into a building as she screams for Donald. Neville brings Laura home from the hospital and promises to take her away once the killer is found. They are interrupted by news of a break in the case. One of Tommy’s playing cards was found under Donald’s body, so the police head to Tommy’s apartment. Tommy calls and will only talk to Neville. The other cops leave and Tommy shows up, claiming he is innocent. When Neville asks him about any lapses in memory, Tommy thinks the cops are trying to put him in Bellevue, and he takes off running. The police give chase, and, before Neville can stop it, Tommy is shot. Neville calls Laura to tell her it is over and now they can go away together. The security detail is dismissed and Laura starts to pack. She comes across the gun in a drawer and places it on the dressing table. Neville arrives at her building and when the elevator door opens, Michael is inside. Laura suddenly has a vision of the killer in the elevator. He stands over a man clutching his bloody eyes but Laura cannot tell who has been killed. Laura races to bolt her door. The killer bangs furiously against the door, then stops. A moment later, Neville smashes a chair through her balcony door and rushes in to protect her. She tells him about her vision but he assures her that he just got off the elevator and no one was there. Everything is okay now because Tommy is dead. Laura doesn’t understand why Tommy would kill everyone. Neville says Tommy hated Laura and thought her work was glorifying violence. As Neville explains Tommy’s background, Laura realizes he is not talking about Tommy at all. Neville has a split personality and his violent half is the killer. That personality is now dominant and Laura is blinded by another vision in which Neville follows her into the bedroom and aims an ice pick at her eye. Laura suddenly hugs him and professes her love. Neville pushes her out of the way and jams the ice pick into the mirror. Laura brushes against the dressing table and grabs the gun. Neville begs her to shoot him. She can’t and points the gun away. He puts his hand over hers, brings the gun back to himself, and cocks it. Neville tells Laura he loves her just before she shoots. Laura calls the police to report Neville’s death and her image freezes in a close-up photograph of the eyes of Laura Mars. +

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Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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