What "The Eyes of Laura Mars" see are badly focused previews of the murders of her business associates, minutes before they are stabbed in the eyes. She does not, however, see who does it; nor will any intelligent movie-goer, because no clues are provided during the movie to give the mystery buff a sporting chance.
That does not make a thrilling thriller. But there is some interesting material in it in the way of trash sociology. It's not enough to make it worthwhile to see the picture, but the mentality of Jon Peters, Barbra Streisand's hairdresser-boy friend-turned-producer, might be worth knowing in case he goes on to greater things.
The picture takes place in the pop celebrity's idea of hog heaven.Laura Mars, played by Faye Dunaway, is a fashion photographer who has achieved the height of superstardom. An assistant serves as her chauffeur, with all the niceties of addressing her as "Miss Mars," jumping out to open the back door for her and waiting outside while she attends parties. He also takes her camera after each picture she snaps, presumably to do the boring chore of advancing the film. Her agent also goes on every assignment with her, standing by to sooth her feelings and run her errands.
Everywhere she goes, she is surrounded by reporters and press photographers who press in upon her eagerly, and whom, without a shred of professional identification, she snubs.
Her photographs are displayed in a huge art gallery, and the opening of the exhibit is a major television news story. The pictures she takes are of murderous women in their underwear, a kind of chic-violence scene that the New York clothing store Henri Bendel had mannequins acting out in its windows to startle passers-by some seasons ago. She artistically explains this, however, as "giving an account of the times in which we live."
Perhaps, it is a coincidence that Laura Mars' name is a weakened version of that of a Booth Tarkington heroine who pursued, a generation back, the American dream of stardom - that magic substance, unrelated to talent or training, that is supposed to entitle the "personality" who has it to all the glamorous rewards of the society. "Presenting Lily Mars" was the story of a girl using what we now call charisma to become a star in the theater. She loved being a star, but she also loved the theater.
Laura Mars is shown a full-grown star, enjoying the fringe benefits of that status. It is a little peculiar to see these attached to the profession of photographer - when was the last time your television news was interrupted to show the mass adulation surrounding a photographer at the opening of a gallery exhibition of photographs? But it is interesting to see this vision of being at the top. Oh, to be so good at hucksterism that you can afford to be nasty to all the other hucksters.
EYES OF LAURA MARS: Andrews Manor, Avalon 1, Hampton Mall, K-B Georgetown Square, K-B Longley, Roth's Tysons Comer, Springfield Mall 2 and Tumpike.