|"Play Misty for me," says the lady on the phone|
Radio DJ Dave (Clint Eastwood) plays easy listening on the night shift, and he consistently gets calls from a woman who says "Play Misty for me." One night Dave meets a woman named Evelyn (Jessica Walter) at a bar and has a one-night stand with her. She not only turns out to be the lady who requests Misty, but she seems to think this one encounter means that she and Dave are in a "relationship." Things get worse when Dave sleeps with her a second time, and she acts as if they're engaged, showing up uninvited, expecting him to act like a significant other when all he wants to do is get away from her. In spite of this, Dave shows compassion after Evelyn's suicide attempt [a doctor friend risks his license by not reporting the incident, even though it would have forced Evelyn to get help], after which Evelyn is even more deeply "attached" to the man. If anything her behavior gets worse ... Play Misty for Me is an entertaining visualization of one man's Casual Sex Nightmare, and features a striking performance from Jessica Walter with an okay Eastwood pretty much along for the ride. Eastwood also directed the film, which is well-shot by Bruce Surtees. There's an exciting, if too brief, climax wherein Evelyn tries to butcher Dave; a sequence where she stabs repeatedly at his poor maid, Birdie (an amusing and sassy Clarice Taylor) is acceptable but hardly has the "Psycho-like editing" one critic attributed to it. Eastwood, as usual, whispers all of his lines [the way a woman would if she wants to sound slinky] in a way he assumes sounds masculine and sexy. Donna Mills [Curse of the Black Widow] plays his on-again/off-again girlfriend, Tobie. In this she is sweet and fresh-scrubbed; she later successfully reinvented herself as a devious sexpot for the show Knot's Landing. John Larch ["It's a Good Life" on Twilight Zone] and Irene Hervey [Honey West] have notable bits as, respectively, a cop who comes afoul of Evelyn, and a radio producer who wants to sign Dave to a great new contract until Evelyn interferes. Duke Everts plays Tobie's gay friend Jay Jay like a stereotype, and Don Siegel has his first acting part as a bartender. A romantic sequence to the strains of Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" is effective, but a long sequence at a jazz festival just stops the picture dead. Although I haven't seen Fatal Attraction in a long time, I think this is a better picture.
Verdict: A zesty Walter makes this a pleasure. ***.