Sunday, March 28, 2021

25 Facts About 'Play Misty for Me' (1971)

In honor of the late Jessica Walter, Damian and I watched "Play Misty for Me" last night. Neither of us had seen it before -- politics aside, I can watch a man as beautiful as Clint Eastwood for days and my guy's a Northern California aficionado, so I knew the scenery alone would thrill him. But of course it was Jessica who stole every scene she was in -- and even the ones she wasn't. (It's no exaggeration to say Damian turned to me early in the film and said "I got chills" when the legendary actress first reveals who her character really is.) And to think Universal Pictures wanted Lee Remick to play the role! Enjoy 24 other bits of trivia about the groundbreaking film HERE.

The most awkward scene in this history of cinema?!!!!


 25 Facts about “Play Misty for Me” (1971), compiled by David Davis:

πŸŽ₯ 1. A psychological thriller, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, in his directorial debut. 

2. Cast — Clint Eastwood as Dave Garver / Jessica Walter as Evelyn Draper / Donna Mills as Tobie / Williams John Larch as Sgt. McCallum / Jack Ging as Frank / Irene Hervey as Madge / James McEachin as Al Monte / Clarice Taylor as Birdie / Donald Siegel as Murphy 

3. Plot — Dave Garver is a KRML radio disc jockey who broadcasts nightly from a studio in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, often incorporating poetry into his program. At his favorite bar, seemingly by chance, he encounters a woman named Evelyn Draper. Dave drives her home, where she reveals that their meeting was not accidental; she sought him out after hearing the bar mentioned on his radio show. He guesses correctly that she is the recurring caller who always requests the jazz standard "Misty." The two have sex. A casual relationship begins between Dave and Evelyn. But before long, Evelyn begins to display obsessive behavior. She shows up at Dave's house uninvited, follows him to work, and calls to demand that he not leave her alone for a single minute. The final straw comes when Evelyn disrupts a business meeting, mistaking Dave's lunch companion for his date. His efforts to gently sever ties with Evelyn lead her to attempt suicide in his home by slashing her wrists. After Dave rejects her again, Evelyn breaks into his home and his housekeeper finds her vandalizing his possessions. Evelyn stabs the housekeeper and is subsequently committed to a psychiatric hospital. 

During Evelyn's incarceration, Dave rekindles a relationship with his ex-girlfriend, Tobie Williams. A few months later, Evelyn again calls the studio to request "Misty." She tells Dave that she has been released from the mental hospital and is moving to Hawaii for a fresh start in life. She then quotes an Edgar Allan Poe poem, "Annabel Lee." That night, while Dave is asleep, she sneaks into his house and tries to kill him with a butcher knife. He fights her, she flees, and he contacts the police. Dave tells Tobie about Evelyn and cautions her to stay away from him until the woman is caught. For her safety, she goes home. There, she meets with a girl who answered her ad for a roommate: Evelyn, using the alias Annabel. Tobie eventually realizes that Annabel is Evelyn when she sees the fresh scars on Evelyn's wrists, but before Tobie can escape, Evelyn takes her hostage. Evelyn also kills McCallum, a police detective who had come to check on Tobie. Dave makes the connection between Tobie's roommate and the quote from "Annabel Lee." When he calls Tobie to warn her, Evelyn answers and says Tobie and she are waiting for him. Dave switches from a live show to taped music and rushes to the house, where he finds Tobie bound and gagged. Evelyn attacks him with the butcher knife, slashing Dave multiple times. He punches Evelyn, knocking her through the window, over a railing, down onto the rocky shore below. He and Tobie leave the house as his voice on the radio show leads into the song "Misty." 

4. The original music score was composed by Dee Barton. 

5. The first scene Clint Eastwood shot was his former director Don Siegel's cameo as Murph the bartender. As a joke, Eastwood made Siegel do 11 takes - then told the cameraman to put the film in the camera.

6. Jean Shepherd claimed that "Play Misty for Me" was based on a real-life incident in which he was stalked by a female fan, which culminated in her trying to stab him.

7. Given complete freedom by Universal Pictures, Clint Eastwood finished shooting four days ahead of schedule and 50,000 dollars under budget. 

8. Universal Pictures originally wanted Lee Remick cast in the role of Evelyn, but director Clint Eastwood had been impressed with Jessica Walter's performance in Sidney Lumet's film The Group (1966), and cast her instead. 

9. Steve McQueen turned down the lead role, claiming that the female lead was stronger than the male.

10. Set in Carmel, California, the city of which Eastwood would eventually become the mayor. The story was originally set in Los Angeles, but at Clint Eastwood's insistence, the film was shot in the more comfortable surroundings of Carmel-by-the-Sea, where he could shoot scenes at the local radio station, bars and restaurants, and acquaintances' houses. 

11. Clint Eastwood obtained the rights to the song "Misty" after he saw Erroll Garner perform at the Concord Music Festival in 1970. Eastwood also paid 2,000 dollars for the use of the song "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" by Roberta Flack. 

12. The radio station, KRML, was an actual jazz station in Carmel, whose studios were relocated to the Eastwood Building at San Carlos and 5th, in the same building as the Hog's Breath Inn (a restaurant that Clint Eastwood co-owned). After a brief dark period in 2010, the radio station returned to the air in 2011. 

13. Jessica Walter has contributed to multiple documentaries about Clint Eastwood in which she praises him enthusiastically. However, Sondra Locke notes in her autobiography that when she met Jessica at a party in the early '70s right after this film was made, "she spoke in measured tones about Clint, and I got the distinct impression that she did not view him as a very generous actor or human being for that matter." 

14. Flip Wilson was originally considered for the role of Al Monte, played by James McEachin in the film. 

15. Eastwood had an experience similar to this in real life about 21 years earlier, when an ex-girlfriend stalked him and threatened to commit suicide after he'd broken up with her. 

16. Both Fatal Attraction and Misery drew heavily on Misty in developing their plotlines: Fatal Attraction with its story of an affair that goes terribly wrong; Misery with its story of a deranged fan terrorizing her idol. 

17. At the end of the movie, when Evelyn is seen floating in the sea, that is actually Jessica Walter, not a stand-in or a body double.

18. The film's title can be seen on a cinema marquee in the beginning sequence of Dirty Harry (1971), also starring Clint Eastwood.

19. Critical Response — 

πŸ“° 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." 

• Critics such as Jay Cocks in TIME, Andrew Sarris in the Village Voice, and Archer Winsten in The New York Post all praised Eastwood's directorial skills and the film, including his performance in the scenes with Walter. 

20. Box Office — πŸ’° Budget: $950,000 (estimated). πŸ’΅ Gross: $10.6 million. 21. Awards — πŸ”² Jessica Walter was nominated for the 1972 Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture (Drama), losing to Jane Fonda for Klute

22. Goofs — 🎺 The music heard during the "Jazz Fest" sequence rarely matches the video. 🚘 As Dave drives towards Tobie's at the end of the film it's beginning to get light. When he arrives, it's pitch black again. πŸ‘ΆπŸ» At the Jazz Festival, during a close-up shot of a baby, the camera's shadow is clearly visible on the baby. πŸŒ„ After his first date with Evelyn a shot of a sunrise over the ocean is shown. In California the sun sets over the ocean but does not rise over it. 

23. Quotable Quotes — 

πŸ’¬ Man: “Having some trouble, lady?” 

David 'Dave' Garver: 

“Get lost!” Evelyn: “Yeah, get lost, assholes!” 

πŸ’¬Evelyn: “Why didn't you take my call?” 

Dave Garver: “Where does it say that I gotta drop what I'm doing and answer the phone every time it rings?” 

Evelyn: “Do you know your nostrils flare out into little wings when you're mad? It's kinda cute.” 

24. Home Media — 

πŸ’Ώ Released on VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray. 

25. IMDb User Reviews — 

• WritnGuy-2 | April 2000: ⭐️⭐️⭐️½ A very creepy movie. Jessica Walter is beyond convincing as the jealous psycho lover, and Clint Eastwood proves that he doesn't just do Dirty Harry movies. Donna Mills is also quite good as the innocent girlfriend. The movie implies and foreshadows a lot, making everything even scarier. But the best scene in the whole movie is the knife attack on the maid, Birdie. That scene competes with the shower scene in "Psycho" as one of the most shocking in film history. The way the camera darts and swings around, and Birdie's screams as she struggles and fights to get away, all add up to one of the scariest scenes I've every seen. The climax is quite good, if not executed a little too quickly, but what led to it was shocking enough to overshadow it. 

• Nightman85 | December 2008: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A classic thriller that was ahead of its time! The directorial debut for Clint Eastwood was this classic suspense thriller that's both intelligent and shocking. Dashing California DJ has a one night stand with an obsessive fan, who will have his love at ANY cost! While a bit on the dated side, Play Misty for Me still works well as a steely, nail-biter of a film. The film's premise is clever, especially for its time, and escalates into an intense suspense piece. Eastwood's direction is well-done, nicely using the coastal filming locations. Eastwood also builds some great sequences of shock and tension, especially for the films edgy climax. Eastwood himself does a great performance as the tormented DJ. Jessica Walter however steals the show. Walter's performance is absolutely powerful and she comes off as one of the best psycho-females of cinematic history! She's simply unforgettable. A suspense masterpiece through and through, Play Misty for Me has since gone on to be quite an influential film and one that well-stands the test of time. Thriller fans should not miss it!


j said...

Walters gives a terrifying Oscar worthy performance as the psycho Evelyn who will do anything to keep Eastwood in her bed but considering how handsome Clint looks in this movie who can blame her.

Ohio chic said...

What did jj mean about Tobie doing the Betty Davis scene ? I know she's an artist if some sort

Elise said...

Jessica Walters is the star of this film. She was one of the best psycho obsessed in film history.