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CLINT EASTWOOD AND JESSICA WALTER IN 'PLAY MISTY FOR ME'

Clint Eastwood in PLAY MISTY FOR ME Year: 1971 Rating: ***1/2

Clint Eastwood, in moving from actor to director and combining both... directing himself... isn't quite the scowling tough guy he became famous for — although he has his share of grimacing expressions from a one-night-stand turned obsessed lover Jessica Walter, at one point describing how his nostrils flare when he gets really riled...

She's enough of a manipulating woman turned lethal nightmare to make anyone reach their breaking point, and, in basically the same role (including a pivotal suicide attempt) that would earn Glenn Close her FATAL ATTRACTION Oscar, poor Jessica doesn't get nearly enough time to spread her devil wings throughout...

Jessica Walter in PLAY MISTY FOR ME

For example, right when things get really sticky between the initially mysterious caller requesting that Clint Eastwood's overnight soft music DJ play the piano instrumental "Misty", the movie veers into a sappy are-we-still-broken-up melodrama between Clint and Donna Mills, the demure polar opposite of Jessica's narrowed prowess...

One scene between Eastwood and Mills (with the backing of You Are So Beautiful To Me) resembles a condom ad, including a picturesque dusk backing his/her silhouettes along the North California coastline... that Clint shoots like a character in itself... as the jilted villain's absent far too long between fiery bursts of anger and desperation... 

Clint Eastwood in PLAY MISTY FOR ME with Jessica Walter

Making her intended central input seem more like peripheral intrusions upon a gentle romance... which might be Eastwood's intention aka the possible ruining of an otherwise perfect relationship... but there needed more edge to this edgy thriller that FATAL ATTRACTION improved upon with the couple being married, not having to remind the audience how much they love each other with overlong date scenes... 

As far as performance goes, Eastwood shows not only a softer side, but in one scene as he and fellow DJ James McEachin stroll through the Monterey Jazz Festival, you'll see how mellow the gritty icon really is... a music-loving artist... leaving the more intense moments to whenever he allows Jessica Walter to completely let loose so, as both leading actor and first-time director, Clint is, for better or worse, completely reactionary — he just needed to instill a more antagonistic threat for a deeper sense of tension, urgency.

Clint Eastwood in PLAY MISTY FOR ME
Clint Eastwood in PLAY MISTY FOR ME
Jessica Walter in PLAY MISTY FOR ME
Clint Eastwood in PLAY MISTY FOR ME and Irene Hervey
Clint Eastwood in PLAY MISTY FOR ME with James McEachin
Jessica Walter in PLAY MISTY FOR ME
Clint Eastwood in PLAY MISTY FOR ME
Jessica Walter in PLAY MISTY FOR ME
Clint Eastwood in PLAY MISTY FOR ME
Clint Eastwood in PLAY MISTY FOR ME
Donna Mills in PLAY MISTY FOR ME
Britt Lind (Mills' friend) in PLAY MISTY FOR ME
Donna Mills in PLAY MISTY FOR ME
Bartender friend DON SIEGEL in PLAY MISTY FOR ME
Clint Eastwood in PLAY MISTY FOR ME with bartender Don Siegel
Bartender friend DON SIEGEL in PLAY MISTY FOR ME
Jessica Walter in PLAY MISTY FOR ME
Clint Eastwood in PLAY MISTY FOR ME with token cop John Larch
Jessica Walter in PLAY MISTY FOR ME
Jessica Walter in PLAY MISTY FOR ME
Clint Eastwood in PLAY MISTY FOR ME
Clint Eastwood in PLAY MISTY FOR ME
Clint Eastwood in PLAY MISTY FOR ME

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