‘Eyes of Laura Mars’: Female Visions of Violence and the Truths They Tell

Manor Vellum
5 min readSep 22, 2020

By Chad Collins

In an early episode of the seminal 1950s family sitcom Father Knows Best (Season 2, Episode 13), family matriarch Margaret Anderson (Jane Wyatt) has a serendipitous string of good luck. Entirely inexplicably, Margaret develops the ephemeral ability to sense things before they happen. Hijinks ensure, naturally, with the entire family beaming with curiosity about Margaret’s newfound powers. It’s all TV-G fun and games until Margaret’s final premonition: the bridge her husband will be crossing en route to a meeting the following evening is going to collapse, killing him.

Margaret (Jane Wyatt) has a premonition after Jim (Robert Young) tells her about his upcoming trip. Credit: Screen Gems

It’s certainly dark for a wholesome half-hour family comedy, and more worrisome is the resultant anguish Margaret feels when Jim (Robert Young)— her husband — gaslights her into thinking she’s lost her mind. You see, Margaret is a silly woman living in an eerie dreamland that only the bored noodling of a domesticated woman could conceive. Jim doesn’t believe her and almost directly tempts fate to prove his wife wrong — he’s going to cross the bridge and he’s going to be fine. Only, he doesn’t cross the bridge. His meeting is postponed shortly before he’s set to leave, and he relishes in the delusions of his wife until late that evening when their son returns home to announce his baseball game was canceled. The competing team was stranded after a cloudburst washed away the bridge and a mile of Hillsborough Road, the same road Jim was set to travel on.

Reaction after hearing the news about the bridge from their son (Billy Gray), proving Maragaret’s premonition to be true. Credit: Screen Gems

That episode aired twenty-three years before Eyes of Laura Mars (1978), and the message is no less potent in either: Women have a unique capacity to see violence and danger in the world around them, and even in 2020, no one is willing to believe them.

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