Restraining Order Needed – Play Misty for Me (1971)

You still can’t fix crazy.  So this is about a radio DJ (Clint Eastwood).  Every time he spins, he gets a female caller (Jessica Walter) who requests that he plays the song Misty.  They meet up in a bar one night and hook up, which turns out to be a gigantic mistake, given the fact that she is obsessive and completely out of her mind.  I am a gigantic fan of the manly and forever squinting Clint Eastwood, but I am mostly familiar with his Westerns and not much else.  I must confess that I thought that this was one of his cop movies, so I was understandably surprised when he hit the screen as a smooth talking radio DJ.  I also didn’t know that this had a very young Jessica Walter in it (this was a movie that I was truly unfamiliar with other than in name), and she is an actress who I somewhat thought was just born old a la Morgan Freeman.

2This is why you always leave a note.

The movie that this most immediately reminded me of is Fatal Attraction, and you would be blind if you cannot connect the dots.  It’s funny, because you can go so long, thinking you watched the original template of something only to stumble on a precursor and realize that you’ve been completely wrong for years.  For example, I thought Halloween was the original slasher until I watched Black Christmas, and I thought the same thing about that movie until I saw Peeping Tom.  It’s totally the same thing here… and there’s nothing wrong with treading traveled waters, you just kind of know how it is going to go, because you’ve seen this movie before.  You know the size of the situation right away once you see the instant attachment, as it is not something that any sane or rational person would just jump to.  It’s trashy, but it kind of sucks you in, because on a base level, everybody loves to be distracted by a soap opera if it is done right.

1And with Eastwood as your lead, you’re already five steps ahead of most.

This was just the right movie for me on a lazy Saturday afternoon dog sitting at an in-law’s house.  The way that Eastwood delivers lines is worth the price of admission in itself.  He also directs as well, and he does a fine job, although there are a few minor technical things that I had gripes with, namely a few voiceovers over distant shots that feel awkwardly pieced together.  This is a very valid argument on why you should always pass on crazy, and this is a fine movie for all of the Eastwood fans out there.

Play Misty for Me (1971) ***1/2

– Critic for Hire


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