2012 Film Challenge #59 - Play Misty For Me

So far this year I've watched werewolves, zombies, Satanists, ghosts, white worms and self-righteous serial killers.

Nothing so far, though, has freaked me out as much as the demented, obsessive Evelyn in Play Misty For Me.

This was the second Clint Eastwood film viewed in a week. And, whilst Firefox was tedious and plodding, this, his directorial debut, was engrossing, disturbing and unforgettable.

Mr. Eastwood plays Dave – a jazz DJ with a voice like chocolate silk who plays smooth music for lovers. He's very much paving the way for Alan Partridge's Deep Bath.

Because his show radiates orgasms, he gets himself a stalker. Every night she phones in to his show, asking him to play Misty. Eventually they meet, and things get clingy and creepy very, very quickly.

I sometimes make the mistake of visiting the IMDB boards. You can play a fun little game with them in seeing how long it takes for a perfectly innocuous thread to descend into personal attacks. It happens to every thread eventually. I believe the record for consecutive non-pyschotic posts is seven.

Anyway, there was talk on the Play Misty For Me boards of misogyny. Because no back-story is offered for Evelyn, it seems that some assumed that she's intended to represent all women, everywhere, with men being their long-suffering prey.

But not only does this analysis completely ignore all the sane and reasonable women in the film, it also ignores the context in which the film was made. I understand that to portray a man as butch as Clint Eastwood in such a subjugated role was unprecedented in 1972. Back then, men were men and women cooked things and sewed. Play Misty For Me eschews these gender roles. You could almost call it enlightened, were it not for the outrageous gay stereotype.

Of particular interest, though, must be the footage shot live at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Cannonball Adderley!

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