Play Misty for Me
|Play Misty for Me|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Clint Eastwood|
|Produced by||Robert Daley|
|Screenplay by||Jo Heims|
|Story by||Jo Heims|
|Music by||Dee Barton|
|Edited by||Carl Pingitore|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$10.6 million|
Play Misty for Me is a 1971 American psychological thriller film directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, in his directorial debut. Jessica Walter and Donna Mills co-star. The original music score was composed by Dee Barton. In the film, Eastwood plays the role of a radio disc jockey being stalked by an obsessed female fan.
The film was a critical and financial success, with Walter earning praise for her first major film role.
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 (who survives but is taken to the hospital) 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 large knife. He wakes up to see her standing over him wielding the knife, and as she screams and stabs downward, he rolls away from the descending knife (which plunges into his pillow) and he falls onto the floor; Evelyn 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 she and Tobie 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, killing her. He and Tobie leave the house as his voice on the radio show leads into the song "Misty".
Before Malpaso Productions co-founder Irving Leonard died, he and Eastwood discussed a final film, one giving Eastwood the artistic control he desired by making his directorial debut. The film was Play Misty for Me. Eastwood reflected on his new role:
After seventeen years of bouncing my head against the wall, hanging around sets, maybe influencing certain camera set-ups with my own opinions, watching actors go through all kinds of hell without any help, and working with both good directors and bad ones, I'm at the point where I'm ready to make my own pictures. I stored away all the mistakes I made and saved up all the good things I learned, and now I know enough to control my own projects and get what I want out of actors.
The script was originally conceived by Jo Heims, a former model and dancer turned secretary, and was polished by Dean Riesner.:192 The idea of another love interest, with a level-headed girlfriend Tobie added to the plot, was a suggestion by Sonia Chernus, an editor who had been with Eastwood when he was initially spotted for Rawhide.:193
The story line was originally set in Los Angeles, but at Eastwood's insistence, the film was shot in the more comfortable surroundings of the actual Carmel-by-the-Sea, where he could shoot scenes at the local radio station, bars and restaurants, and friends' houses.:193
Filming commenced in Monterey, California, in September 1970, and although this was Eastwood's debut as film director, Don Siegel stood by to help and also had an acting role in the film as a bartender. Frequent collaborators of Siegel's, such as cinematographer Bruce Surtees, editor Carl Pingitore, and composer Dee Barton, made up part of the filming team.
Additional scenes were shot at the Monterey Jazz Festival in September 1970, featuring jazz greats Johnny Otis, Cannonball Adderley, and future Weather Report founder Joe Zawinul. (The commentator mentions: "That was the Cannonball Adderley group. They are playing at the Monterey Jazz Festival with Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, Joe Williams, and many others. Now we are gonna hear from 'The Gator Creek Organization' and 'Feeling Fine'...".)
The Sardine Factory is still at the same location as in the film, at Prescott and Wave Streets, just one block up from Cannery Row in Monterey. 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 Eastwood owned). After a brief dark period in 2010, the radio station returned to the air in 2011.
The rights to the song "Misty" were obtained after Eastwood saw Erroll Garner perform at the Concord Music Festival in 1970. Eastwood also paid $2,000 for the use of the song "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" by Roberta Flack. Meticulous planning and efficient directorship by Eastwood (which would become one of his trademarks) enabled the film to be made nearly $50,000 short of its $1 million budget, and it was completed four or five days ahead of schedule.
Play Misty for Me premiered in October 1971 at the San Francisco Film Festival and was widely released in November.:195 It was a financial success, grossing $10.6 million at the box office against a budget of $950,000. It earned $5,413,000 in domestic rentals.
The film has been given mostly positive reviews, with an 84% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 31 reviews. In his 1971 review of the film, 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.:195
In popular culture
In Clint Eastwood's film Dirty Harry, a cinema hoarding clearly showing the title of Play Misty for Me is visible towards the very beginning of the film as Insp. Detective Harry Callahan is on his lunchbreak prior to the bank robbery which opens the movie.
In Keeping Up Appearances, Rose asks Emmett to "play Misty for me" while being dragged out of the church while under the influence of tranquilizers.
- Patrick McGilligan (July 23, 2014). Clint: The Life and Legend. OR Books, LLC. pp. 138–. ISBN 978-1-939293-97-8.
- "Play Misty for Me, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved June 24, 2012.
- Elliot, Marc (2009). American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood. Harmony Books. p. 123. ISBN 978-0-307-33688-0.
- McGilligan, Patrick (1999). Clint: The Life and Legend. Harpercollins Pub Ltd. p. 194. ISBN 0-00-255528-X.
- "Sardine Factory - Contact". Archived from the original on 2013-07-30. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
- Hughes, Howard (2009). Aim for the Heart. I.B. Tauris. p. 105. ISBN 978-1-84511-902-7.
- "All-time Film Rental Champs", Variety, 7 January 1976 p 46
- * Play Misty For Me at Rotten Tomatoes
- "Play Misty for Me". Chicago Sun-Times.
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