Saturday, November 3, 2007

No. 26 - Play Misty for Me

Clint Eastwood made a fine debut as a director with Play Misty For Me. There is a laid-back quality to this film, which begins in a casual way, and then tightens the screws later as the stalking plot kicks in. The film beautifully captures the Edenic qualities of Carmel and Monterey, and Eastwood has a great eye for the particular scenic details of the Northern California coast. Most movies today have a "cut to the chase" mentality, in which everything has to move at warp speed, so it's refreshing to see a movie take its time to establish the setting and the characters.

It is also interesting to note that Eastwood went outside his comfort zone for his first film as a director. He gained fame in Westerns and cop movies, but Play Misty for Me is a Hitchcockian thriller. He also allows Jessica Walter to steal the movie as a woman who refuses to be cast aside after a one-night stand.

This film is an interesting rebuke to the sexual revolution of the late 60's and early 70's. Jessica Walter's character may be acting in an extreme way, but there is some justification for her rage -- Eastwood's character is a ladies' man who likes to rack up as many conquests as he can, and then move on, but here's one woman who refuses to be discarded. The point is, there are repercussions to all our acts. Also, being a public figure brings its share of grief and misery (just ask John Lennon).

Fatal Attraction in 1987 was a de facto remake of Play Misty for Me. Eastwood would also direct but not star in the under-appreciated Breezy in 1973.

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