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Bus Stop: BD Review

Aug 2nd, 2013

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The iconic Marilyn Monroe drama doesn't get any supplementary love in high-def, but the movie's never looked or sounded better....

Fox / 96 Minutes / 1956 / Unrated / Street Date: July 30, 2013

A competitive rodeo cowboy by the age of 21, Beau (Don Murray) decides it is time to leave his isolated Montana ranch and head off to Phoenix, Arizona in search of rodeo prize money and to "find myself a gal." And boy does he ever, in the form of his "angel" (Marilyn Monroe), a gorgeous singer in the neighborhood bar called the Blue Dragon. But despite laying on the charm, his overzealous, aggressive advances soon backfire - you can't rope a girl like a steer, can you? Will Beau learn how to treat Monroe like a lady, win the rodeo and ride off into the sunset happily ever after, or return to Phoenix empty-handed??

George Axelrod (who also penned Monroe's The Seven Year Itch) wrote the screenplay based on the stage play by William Inge. Weaving a clever and believable story, Axelrod managed to sneak in many a sexually suggestive aside that were quite racy for 1956. Joshua Logan (1958's South Pacific) directs in a somewhat linear, straightforward fashion, but wrung strong performances from his cast, especially Monroe, who could often run hot or cold. And Logan's workmanlike style may lack pizzazz but pays off, because this "coming-of-age" story is simple and predictable, so it is up to the performances to ultimately carry the film.

Don Murray (Ghosts Can't Do It) was advertised as "bursting onto the scene" as gutsy "young" cowboy Beau in his first screen role. Truth be told he had already appeared in an earlier movie called The Skin of Our Teeth, and he looks more like thirty then twenty-one. But let it be said that Murray plays Beau with great aplomb, and was Oscar nominated for his effort. It's critical to the success of the picture that we want to root for him, but for me it was a struggle, because Murray's Beau is also one of the biggest jackasses I've ever seen on screen. Possessing few appealing qualities, the only thing that ultimately redeems the character is his naiveté and honesty. Usually, he overreacts to everything, is spoiled, selfish and ingratiating. But leave it to Monroe to never shy away from a challenge!

Bus Stopis Monroe's picture all the way. This just may be her finest performance, and most critics seemed to agree. Fresh from months of studying at the prestigious Lee Strasburg Institute, she displayed far more range than most normally expected of her. Marilyn delivers a wrenching performance as she battles Murray and his relentless pursuits, as well as her own growing attraction to him despite her reservations. Aside from being beautiful as always, for once Monroe gets some really juicy scenes to sink her teeth into. Watch as she completely flies off the handle when Murray rips her costume - her rage is palatable. But she is equally strong in the more vulnerable moments, which given the tragic circumstances of her life only makes her performance and the film all the more revealing. Bus Stop a must-see for fans of the Monroe mystique.

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