Bus Stop Review

Bus Stop was one of the first vehicles in which Marilyn Monroe was given top billing, and was adapted from a play by William Inge by George Axelrod, who wrote the play of The Seven Year Itch and the screenplay to The Manchurian Candidate and Breakfast At Tiffany's. Monroe plays Cherie, a singer in a Phoenix bar, who is the unlucky woman virtually forced into an engagement by brash rodeo cowboy Bo Decker (Don Murray). With his friend Virge (Arthur O'Connell), Bo is venturing on his first trip from his ranch in Montana, and after listening to some advice from his pal he's decided to find himself his first women. However, after sharing a brief romantic encounter with Cherie, Bo decides that she is by definition the perfect angel for him, and he plans their marriage for the next day. Cherie however, struggles to break out of the engagement.


Bus Stop is a pleasant enough chapter in the Marilyn Monroe career, but hardly warrants any sort of classic status banded to it. It's a confused film that finds it difficult to know exactly whether to be a light-hearted comedy, romantic tale or indeed a satirical dig at the changing relationships of men and women over the century. The film is let down by a distinct lack of plot structure - at ninety minutes in length Bus Stop still feels half an hour too long, with many slow and stilted scenes padded out for bulk purposes rather than qualitative. Although it escapes its stage-play origins in a confident fashion, it doesn't successfully bridge the gap into cinema. Maybe it's because the film doesn't succeed at any genre level it aims for; the laughs are weak, the romance is flat and the social commentary undervalued. It's the difference between a nice film and a good one - Bus Stop is certainly nice but clearly not very good.

Monroe had been hanging out with Strasberg and co at the actor's studio, and whilst her Arizona accent is silly at times you do have to give Monroe credit for throwing herself into her performance. She's the film's saving grace, and the film dearly needs her based on Don Murray's introductory performance. Murray is so deliberately annoying as Bo that at times he crosses the line between acting and over-acting. Watching the trailer for the film suggests that Fox were clearly trying to promote Murray as the next big thing in Hollywood, which probably suggests why he picked up an Oscar nomination for his performance, despite showing little talent on screen. Murray is a fine actor, but has shown in hindsight that he was more suited as menacing, villainous characters as opposed to all-American hunks. You only have to look at his embodiment-of-evil performance as Governor Breck in Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes to know he can act.


Josh Logan's directing of Bus Stop is pedestrian, as if he is being controlled by the studio and their desire to make the film a Monroe/Murray vehicle more than anything else. This is so much the case that the obligatory happy ending is hard to swallow and seems tacked-on, regardless of whether this was the original ending or not. At least the film looks good, presented in Cinemascope with fine cinematography from veteran Milton Krasner, who grants the film a colourful, happy-go-lucky exterior.

Bus Stop is mildly diverting for ninety minutes, and can be enjoyable in the right mood, but is hardly the greatest feature of Monroe's career, and has since been pushed to the back of the queue by her other, stronger films.



Academy Awards 1956
None

Academy Award Nominations 1956
Best Supporting Actor - Don Murray




Picture
Presented in anamorphic, Cinemascope widescreen 2.55:1, the picture quality of the DVD transfer is excellent, with a fully restored print and strong, dynamic colour palette that gives the film a new lease of life. There is a restoration featurette provided on this DVD that shows the full lengths of the DVD restoration.

Sound
Presented in a surround four-track mix that is mostly mono in terms of dialogue but features left/right spatial channelling of music and some brief background elements. Still, the sound mix is clearly audible and complements the film well.




Menu: A static menu in keeping with the other films of Fox's Marilyn Monroe collection.



Extras

Theatrical Trailer: A good 1956 trailer for the film presented in anamorphic widescreen and restored picture and sound quality.

Restoration Featurette: A very interesting two-and-a-half minute featurette that showcases the lengths the DVD production team underwent in their bid to restore the film to its full visual and audio glory. The featurette offers comparisons between the old version and a restored version, and textual explanation of the processes involved.

Postcard: A single still of a postcard used to promote the film.

Lobby Cards: A couple of stills showing lobby cards produced for the film's promotion.




Conclusion

A mediocre Monroe film at best, Bus Stop is given fine picture and sound quality by Fox and a few interesting if brief extras. Certainly not one you would want to own on its own right, but as part of the Monroe collection it serves as a mildly diverting piece of entertainment.

Film
5 out of 10
Video
7 out of 10
Audio
6 out of 10
Extras
3 out of 10
Overall

5

out of 10

Last updated: 19/04/2018 17:34:29

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