Saturday, October 10, 2009

Play Misty for Me

Play Misty for Me; Thriller-drama, USA, 1971; D: Clint Eastwood, S: Clint Eastwood, Jessica Walter, Donna Mills, John Larch, Don Siegel

David Garver is radio disc jockey in a small studio in Monterey. In a bar, he meets a fan, Evelyn, who has a one night stand with him. However, since he meets up with his ex-girlfriend Tobie again and starts to re-new their relationship, he lets Evelyn know that the one night stand will stay just that. Evelyn though is possessive and doesn't want to let him go, stalking him and even cutting her veins to stay with him. She ends up in a mental asylum, but gets released and sneaks in as Tobie's new roommate, where she ties her up. David arrives to Tobie's house to rescue her and Evelyn attacks him with a knife. But he throws her down the cliff.

16 years before "Fatal Attraction", 1971 film "Play Misty for Me" displayed how a one-night stand or a relationship may turn into a psychotic nightmare when one of the partners doesn't want to let the other one go, resulting in a story that slowly, but steadily builds its creepy factor of an invisible trap. "Misty" also marked the directorial debut of actor Clint Eastwood who did a surprisingly relaxed and good job, even though his often director Don Siegel was cast in the role of the bartender to be his mentor on the set in case something happens. The stand-out performance is the one of Jessica Walter as possessive Evelyn (nominated for a Golden Globe as best actress), who at first doesn't seem like a real threat, but slowly shifts that notion with nervous outbursts, like when she wrecks David's house or follows him to an important business diner with an old lady where she insults her and causes a commotion. Eastwood here still doesn't have the complete directorial authority - for instance, the suspenseful build up is deflated by the useless unususpensful music festival sequence - yet he crafted a neat romantic love scene in nature (between David and Tobie) and proved that he has a sixth sense for thriller.


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