Play Misty for Me

1971

Play Misty for Me

Critics Consensus

A coolly calculating psychological thriller that manages to scare the audience even if it is just using textbook thrills.

83%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 30

72%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 12,645
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Movie Info

Play Misty for Me marked Clint Eastwood's debut as a director, and it gave him the then-unusual opportunity to play a regular contemporary guy in a thriller about sex, obsession, and stalking. Eastwood's Dave Garver is a self-centered California jazz disc jockey struggling with the idea of committing to his on-again, off-again girlfriend Tobie (Donna Mills). One night he meets the mini-skirted Evelyn (Jessica Walters) in a bar, and he goes home with her for what he assumes is a one-night stand. Dave discovers, however, that Evelyn has repeatedly called his show requesting that he "play 'Misty' for me," and she is not about to go gently into the night now that she has bedded him. Even though it touches on the early-'70s flashpoints of sexual liberation, studio execs expressed doubts about why anyone would want to see a movie featuring Eastwood as a deejay. Eastwood reportedly answered that he was not sure either, but he thought it was a good suspense story, and he offered his services as director for free. Play Misty for Me wound up making five times more than it cost and is a precursor to such erotic thrillers as Fatal Attraction (1987) and Basic Instinct (1992). Eastwood mentor Don Siegel appears early on as a bartender. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi

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Cast

John Larch
as Sgt. McCallum
Jack Ging
as Dr. Frank Dewan
Duke Evers
as Jay Jay
Irene Hervey
as Madge Brenner
Britt Lind
as Angelica
Don Siegel
as Murphy the Bartender
Duke Everts
as Jay Jay
Tim Frawley
as Deputy Sheriff
Otis Kadani
as Policeman
Brit Lind
as Anjelica
Jack Kosslyn
as Cab Driver
Malcolm Moran
as Man in Window
Johnny Otis
as Himself
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Critic Reviews for Play Misty for Me

All Critics (30) | Top Critics (6)

  • 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.

    Aug 30, 2009 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Apr 8, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • 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.

    Apr 8, 2008 | Full Review…
  • A highly enjoyable thriller.

    Feb 9, 2006

    Tom Milne

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • 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.

    Oct 23, 2004 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • I think the fault lies with Clint Eastwood the director, who has made too many easy decisions about events, about the management of atmosphere, about the treatment of performances.

    May 21, 2003 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Play Misty for Me

  • Aug 06, 2012
    The choice to not give Jessica Walter's character any real motivation or back story outside of her just being an insane person was a huge miscalculation because it gives the film an almost misogynistic tone (I know that Eastwood was really trying to avoid that conclusion, but its still there). Also the ending is foreshadowed way too much.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 10, 2012
    Clint Eastwood's directorial debut and a great thriller. Jessica Walter is wonderfully creepy, and her performance makes this a really fun movie.
    Joey S Super Reviewer
  • Jun 18, 2012
    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.
    Melvin W Super Reviewer
  • Jun 09, 2012
    "Play Misty for Me" is overlong, somewhat dated, and has a couple of completely unnecessary scenes, but it's an involving thriller with a classic "cool guy" performance from Clint Eastwood and a couple of noteworthy scares. Jessica Walter is effectively annoying as the leech-like Evelyn.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer

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