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BUS STOP (1956)

Beau (Don Murray) is a strapping young cowboy who's barely left the ranch until the day when he comes to Phoenix, Arizona for a rodeo. But he has another goal for the journey as well - to find himself an 'angel' for a wife. Enter Cherie (Marilyn Monroe) a saloon singer from the Ozarks who's gradually working her way across the country to Hollywood. After winning every event at the rodeo, Beau insists on dragging Cherie off to get married whether she agrees or not. But when the bus back home gets caught in a snowstorm, forcing the passengers to stay overnight at a roadside bus station, Beau finds out that it's not always possible to win women over so easily.

Bus Stop is screening as part of a double-bill with The Seven Year Itch, and these two mid-50s movies have a number of points in common: both star Marilyn Monroe, both were co-written by George Axlerod, and both are adaptations of plays that retain a canned theatre quality, leading here to an odd mixture of broad comedy and talky drama. Although a serious moral is intended, practically everyone apart from Monroe overacts strenuously, especially Don Murray as a swaggering cartoon cowboy out of Li'l Abner. Few things have dated worse in 50s Hollywood films than the kind of slick folksy humour you get here or in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, where it's seen as vaguely charming or titillating to feature hillbilly heroes who stalk women and drag them off caveman-style. The main reason for seeing either movie is Monroe herself. This was meant to be the film that proved she could play character parts, but her performance here, like so much of her work, is touching partly because of the uncertainties it creates; she slides in and out of the Ozark accent, and in playing a character who's almost totally reactive (and often unsure how to respond) she has an elusiveness that's not really pinned down by Axlerod's snickering script. This is a curiosity item more than anything, but still well worth checking out.
Jake Wilson

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BUS STOP (PG) 1956

CAST: Marilyn Monroe, Don Murray, Arthur O'Connell, Betty Field, Eileen Heckart
DIRECTOR: Joshua Logan
PRODUCER: Buddy Adler
SCRIPT: George Axelrod, William Inge (play)
EDITOR: William Reynolds
MUSIC: Ken Darby (song), Cyril J. Mockridge, Alfred Newman
RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 5, 2001- Melbourne, July 26 - Sydney

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