Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Clint Eastwood is stalked in directorial debut

Play Misty for Me (1971)
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Jessica Walter, Donna Mills and John Larch
Director: Clint Eastwood
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

A small-town disc-jockey (Eastwood) sees his life turned upside-down when an obsessed fan (Walter) starts stalking him.

Dave (Clint Eastwood) and Evelyn (Jessica Walter) at the point things get REALLY crazy.
"Play Misty for Me" is a nifty thriller where a completely innocent guy gets sucked into the fantasy life of a psycho chick with deadly results. It's the film "Fatal Attraction" wanted to be--something director Eastwood observes in a documentary included on the DVD when he calls it a "remake"--but has neither the style, class, nor properly tuned moral compass of this flick.

In "Fatal Attraction", the characters are almost universally dislikeable and Michael Douglas' character pretty much gets the life he deserves. In this film, skillful casting has guarenteed the characters are likeable--even the psychotic stalker wench has some charm about her, due to a well-done performance from Jessica Walter--and we further have a protagonist whose side the audience is completely on. (Eastwood's character Dave is not married and has been seperated from his girlfriend for several months when he crosses paths with his futuer stalker--he is not betraying any promises or commitments when he gets involved with her, nor did he make any promises to her. It's all-too-rare to see a movie of this type with a completely innocent main character... and for all his womanizing ways, Dave doesn't deserve the hell that comes down upon him and those around him.)

The scenic locations and some intense attack scenes when Eve also this movie very, very strong. I also admire the way Eastwood gave us a "false ending" halfway through the film, going all idyllic and romantic on us when Dave's stalker is apparently put away. The sequence goes on a little too long, but it was a great idea and when Evelyn reappears, the anticipation of her next strike is that much more intense.

If you enjoy movies like "Fatal Attraction"--and want to see that movie done better, over a decade earlier--or if you want to see Clint Eastwood in a role very different from the ones he usually plays, you should check out "Play Misty for Me".

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