Play Misty for Me (1971)
Critic Consensus: A coolly calculating psychological thriller that manages to scare the audience even if it is just using textbook thrills.
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as Dr. Frank Dewan
as Madge Brenner
as Jay Jay
as Al Monte
as Murphy the Bartender
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Critic Reviews for Play Misty for Me
Eastwood displays a vigorous talent for sequences of violence and tension. He has obviously seen Psycho and Repulsion more than once, but those are excellent texts and he has learned his lessons passing well.
For that 80% of the film which constitutes the story, the structure and dialog create a mood of nervous terror which the other 20% nearly blows away.
Clint Eastwood wisely chose a strong, simple thriller for his first film as a director, and the project is remarkable in its self-effacing dedication to getting the craft right.
There is no purpose to a suspense thriller, I suppose, except to involve us, scare us, to give us moments of vicarious terror. Play Misty for Me does that with an almost cruel efficiency.
Audience Reviews for Play Misty for Me
This is most noted for being the directorial debut of Clint Eastwood, who also starred in it as the protagonist Dave Garver. The film was a good starting point for Clint Eastwood as a director, who would later venture into filmmaking that was bold and original. Here he works as both an innovator and a skeptic, playing with a genre he hasn't yet become aware of, and yet masters with a thoughtful eye. The film itself is not up to par with modern day thrillers because many of the choices are extremely dated and cloying. The choice of character, I thought, was interesting, as it's a nearly philandering jazz disc jockey, who commonly reads poetry in a low growling voice. The scenario is that of a stalking former lover now hell bent on keeping or destroying Dave, who she's obsessed with. In the role of the stalker is Jessica Walter (Arrested Development) who balances between crazed, malevolent psychopath and sweetheart bimbo with a creepy ease. The reason it's not worthy of timelessness is the fact that Dave's character is unlikable and isn't very concerned about the actions of his possible murderer. Even in the thick of the hunt he threatens the leading detective with annoyance, and gives his girlfriend platitudes when she expresses concern. His own insincerity makes the rest of the film anti-climactic and the ending is as empty and restless as the plot. Garvey uses women, and it's almost as if he deserves the wrath of this crazed lunatic. The later film Fatal Attraction, which took many liberties from this, is better done for this significant reason. There was more to lose with that instance, and here Dave can tell others about his troubles, the danger he is imminently in. The ending is also very disingenuous, as it ends with a simplicity that borders on negligence. Stalker films, and crazed female films have come a long way and it's exciting to see this first, tantalizing step.
Evelyn: Careful! I might put your eye out.
"The scream you hear may be your own!"
An interesting, if poorly dated, thriller. The only reason that Play Misty for Me is a notable film is because it was Clint Eastwood's first directorial effort. If I look at the movie compared to what Eastwood would go on to make; this would be near the bottom. I'm not going to do that though because it would be unfair to this movie. By no means do I think that Play Misty for Me is really good. It has some entertainment value in all of the craziness of Evelyn, but it really isn't that good. As I said, it has dated extremely poor. There are tons of flaws in the film, from the acting to the editing.
Play Misty for Me follows a disc jokey named Dave who meets his number one fan. He hooks up with her, and believes that is all he signed up for. A one night stand is all he expected, but that isn't what Evelyn wants. She starts following him and interfering in his life. By now, we've seen this movie done many times over. It has pretty much been made into a whole new sub genre of thrillers. There are some good ones out there, and there are some piss poor ones out there. This falls somewhere in-between. I didn't think it was terrific, but it also isn't horrible. I'd lean more towards the bad side though. There's just too much wrong with it to overlook.
Looking back, this was a good experience for Eastwood. He got that first film under his belt, and back then it played to audiences well. Today, it just doesn't have that shock value it did then. It also isn't well made enough to still be considered anything other than average, at best. It does a few likable qualities to it though. I especially enjoyed how they pulled the very end of the film together. It made up for a lot of the middles mistakes. Worth the watch for the diehard Eastwood fan, but by no means should you consider this a must watch.
The original Fatal Attraction. Still effective, though the soundtrack is slightly dated. Creepy, ominous and thrilling.
*NOTE: Maybe it's just me, but I've never seen Donna Mills look this good.
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