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  Play Misty for Me What Are You Stalking About?
Year: 1971
Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Jessica Walter, Donna Mills, John Larch, Jack Ging, Irene Hervey, James McEachin, Clarice Taylor, Don Siegel, Duke Everts, George Fargo
Genre: ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Dave (Clint Eastwood) is a late night disc jockey on a small Californian radio station by the coast, but he has big plans and it looks like now he has been asked to supply a tape of his show to an influential producer that he might finally be going places. He's comfortable enough with his circumstances, but the lure of San Francisco is proving very tempting, the only thing holding him back being his ex-girlfriend Tobie (Donna Mills), who he still wishes to get back together with. In the meantime, for female company he thinks little of picking up women in bars... women like Evelyn (Jessica Walter).

And that's his big mistake, as taking his allure over women for granted is what gets him into such hot water. Play Misty for Me was Eastwood's directorial debut, setting him on a new career equally as prestigious as his acting one, and for some it saw him musing over the nature of stardom, as although Dave is by no means the superstar the man playing him was, it is one of his fans who plunges him into a nightmare as she decides to get too close for comfort - his comfort, not hers. In her way, Evelyn was Dave's punishment, but not everyone regarded the film in that way.

Indeed, the film was accused of misogynism as the Evelyn character was pretty much a monster who it was impossible to reason with, and those criticising it viewed her as a one-dimensional summing up of all the worst beliefs of your typical woman hater. This in spite of all the other females in the story being perfectly easy to get along with, even Tobie who may have her issues with Dave but does not drive him around the bend as Evelyn will. The fact was that for a thriller, it needed a villain and Evelyn was it, with Walter playing her all too convincingly, helped by getting the best lines in the script.

She may be a distaff bogeyman, but she is understandable no matter how lightly sketched her psychology is, and besides the less we knew about her the more intimidating she became as she took the one night stand with Dave to be an invitation into his life for good - or bad, as Dave decides, telling her firmly that if he wanted to have her around he'd ask her. She turns out to be the woman who rings up the show and requests Misty, and with Clint being a big fan of music it's apt that it should take up so much of the film, even to the extent of a trip to the Monterey Jazz Festival and a love scene played out to the whole of Roberta Flack's The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, nice enough but it stops the suspense in its tracks.

Back at the plot, Evelyn is growing more insistent and even gets her own keys for Dave's house made without his knowledge. As her presence makes his social and professional life crumble, being polite simply has her misreading this as a come-on, and getting angry sees her clinging to him desperately, terrified that she won't see him anymore. By the time she has attempted suicide in his home, he really should have called the police, but his status as a celebrity, no matter how minor, leaves him anxious to make the minimum of fuss to stave off embarrassment, not to mention keeping his chances alive with Tobie. Though this sowed the seeds of countless crazy lady thrillers and horrors to come, in itself Eastwood worked up decent tension but too often allowed his attention to drift into other avenues, with romantic interludes and a matey role for one of his pals, Don Siegel as a bartender. That said, it was a good start and it was popular. Music by Dee Barton.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Clint Eastwood  (1930 - )

Becoming a superstar in the late 1960s gave Clint Eastwood the freedom to direct in the seventies. Thriller Play Misty for Me was a success, and following films such as High Plains Drifter and The Outlaw Josey Wales showed a real talent behind the camera as well as in front of it. He won an Oscar for his downbeat Western Unforgiven, which showed his tendency to subvert his tough guy status in intriguing ways. Another Oscar was awarded for boxing drama Million Dollar Baby, which he also starred in.

Also a big jazz fan, as is reflected in his choice of directing the Charlie Parker biopic Bird. Other films as director include the romantic Breezy, The Gauntlet, good natured comedy Bronco Billy, Honkytonk Man, White Hunter Black Heart, The Bridges of Madison County, OAPs-in-space adventure Space Cowboys, acclaimed murder drama Mystic River, complementary war dramas Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima and harrowing true life drama Changeling. Many considered his Gran Torino, which he promised would be his last starring role (it wasn't), one of the finest of his career and he continued to direct with such biopics as Jersey Boys, American Sniper and The Mule to his name.

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