Sunday, January 12, 2014

Play Misty for Me

The DJ (Clint Eastwood) of a coastal California radio station receives the title tune request from the same caller on a regular basis during his nightly slow jazz program and shrugs it off with a smile, dismissing the repeat caller as another lonely romantic. While in a bar one night (and on a break from his sweet girlfriend, played by Donna Mills) he is picked up by an assertive female (Jessica Walter) who becomes increasingly difficult to shake following their one night stand and demonstrates disturbing and escalating personality defects when she finally begins to get the picture. Playing a character Eastwood has said is closer to himself more so than any of the other more famous and macho personages he's depicted over his lengthy acting career, Play Misty for Me is a nice little, surely made thriller, his first in an equally distinguished career as a director (his mentor, the director Don Siegel, appears in a recurring cameo as a bartender). The overblown stalker story, which would have been presented cheaply and artlessly 99 times out of a 100, is competently done, with some fine touches added on (the Edgar Allan Poe connections in the denouement are particularly inspired). Clint is assured in his role and Walter, who is probably better known to modern audiences as the mom from Arrested Development, brings potency to her maniacal role.