[box cover]

Play Misty for Me

Experienced viewers in 1987 would have recognized that the hit film Fatal Attraction was little more than an unofficial remake of Clint Eastwood's directorial debut, 1971's Play Misty for Me,. Though Fatal Attraction was written by James Dearden from his own short story "Diversion," fans of Eastwood's thriller couldn't help but see the similarities (noting them himself, Eastwood later told Fatal Attraction producer Sherry Lansing that she owed him a beer). Misty tells the story of Dave Garver (Eastwood), a jazz disc jockey for KRML radio in Carmel, Calif. Dave, as Eastwood describes him, is "a big fish in a little pond," with a resistance to a full commitment to his artist girlfriend Tobie (Donna Mills) because it threatens his rep as a rake. He's poised to take on a better job in another city when he falls into a brief fling with Evelyn Draper (Jessica Walter). Evelyn quickly proves to be more attached to Dave than expected — she's the girl who calls the station frequently requesting the tune "Misty," and she begins to intrude in other areas of his life, threatening his new job prospects, his reconciliation with his girlfriend, and finally the lives of those around him. Misty is a cool, efficient, modest little thriller that looms larger with the passing years. Among other things, the film introduced stalking to the movies, a subject that became the signature theme of '90s cinema (for Basic Instinct buffs, one of the first shots of Evelyn shows her using an ice pick on some recalcitrant H2O). It's also interesting that Eastwood's first film as a director should explore the horrors of unwanted female attraction, given his status as an international sex symbol. But Evelyn is a fascinating character, and Walter doesn't play her as a psychotic but as a sympathetic, if disturbed, person. The whole production is a homey affair, shot in Eastwood's home territory, and including footage of the noted jazz fan's beloved Monterey Jazz Festival. The film also made a hit out of Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," used over an obligatory (if well put together) sex interlude. Universal's DVD release of Play Misty for Me is loaded. For a film that is three decades old, the presentation is a reasonably clean anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) of Bruce Surtees's colorful coastal photography. Audio elements are an efficient Dolby Digital 2.0 mono in English, Spanish, and French, with English subtitles. The biggest supplement is the documentary "Play it Again: A Look Back at Play Misty For Me." At about 45 minutes, it provides a thorough account of the film's conception and production, with almost all still-living participants providing interviews. The key message that Laurent Bouzereau's featurette provides is that Eastwood's approach to the film was groundbreakingly European in style: hand-held camerawork, all location shooting, no makeup. A bit of that documentary is sheared off to create another featurette called "The Beguiled, Misty, Don, and Clint," a six-minute exploration of this experimental period in Eastwood's career and the influence of Don Siegel on Eastwood's style. A rather throwaway featurette offers Eastwood solo on camera praising DVD technology. There are also three animated photo montages showing studio portraits and on-set images, Eastwood directing the movie, and "The Evolution of a Poster." The theatrical trailer, also included, is an interesting exercise in trying to convince Eastwood fans that the film is consistent with his prior work while exploring new terrain. Other features include DVD-ROM material, extensive production notes and filmographies, and ads for other Universal films and a newsletter. Keep-case.
—D.K. Holm

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