Thursday, May 8, 2014

Movie review - Play Misty for Me

A movie that has been in my top 10 of all time since I first saw it in 1971, Play Misty for Me is a great Saturday night thriller and marks the directorial debut of Clint Eastwood - who also stars in the film.

It also is the movie that ruined Jessica Walter for me forever as I still cringe when I see her in anything since her creepy turn as Evelyn in Misty. I'd been a Jessica Walter fan since Grand Prix (1966). I still am but now with an asterisk. It's possible - perhaps even probable - the more famous film Fatal Attraction might never have been made without Eastwood having made Play Misty for Me. The late Roger Ebert wrote, "Play Misty for Me is not the artistic equal of Psycho, but in the business of collecting an audience into the palm of its hand and then squeezing hard, it is supreme."

Rotten Tomatoes describes Misty thusly: 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.

The movie also provided a huge boost to a fabulous song by Roberta Flack called The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face -

This one gets the full 5-hockey stick treatment from me.  If you enjoy thrillers, don't miss this one.


  1. Well, I'm with you on this one. It was a great film but ditto on the ruining of any chance of a possible affair with Jessica Walters or for that matter, Glenn Close. Maybe I'm just inherently afraid of strong women but those two movies made Halloween look like a Disney flick. :)