BUS STOP [1956 / 2013] [Blu-ray] [UK Release]
Give This Cowboy Enough Rope and He’ll Land Marilyn Monroe!
Marilyn Monroe gives an acclaimed performance in the romantic classic directed by Joshua Logan that features Don Murray in his Oscar® Nominated role. When Beauregard "Bo" Decker [Don Murray], a naïve rodeo rider, meets saloon performer Chérie [Marilyn Monroe], he falls head over boots in love. After he literally lassoes Chérie onto a bus headed for Montana, where he plans to marry her, Chérie escapes off the bus smack in the middle of a snowstorm. But if Beauregard "Bo" Decker can learn to rein in his emotions, he might convince Chérie to warm up to him in this rewarding film.
FILM FACT No.1: Awards and Nominations: 1956 National Board of Review, USA: Win: NBR Award for Top Ten Films. 1956 Venice Film Festival: Nominated: Golden Lion Award for Joshua Logan. 1957 Academy Awards: Nominated: Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Don Murray. 1957 Golden Globes: Nominated: Best Motion Picture in a Comedy or Musical. Nominated: Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for Marilyn Monroe. 1957 BAFTA Film Awards: Nominated: Most Promising Newcomer to Film for Don Murray [USA]. 1957 Directors Guild of America: Nominated: DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures for Joshua Logan. 1957 Writers Guild of America: Nominated: WGA Award (Screen) for Best Written American Comedy for George Axelrod.
FILM FACT No.2: ‘BUS STOP’ was based on the play of the same title, which in turn was expanded from an earlier, one act play “People in the Wind” by William Inge. The inspiration for the play came from people Inge met in Tonganoxie, Kansas. In the 1961 – 1962 seasons, ABC adapted the play and film into a television series of the same name starring Marilyn Maxwell as the owner of the bus station and diner. In the segment "Chérie" which most closely follows the film, Tuesday Weld performed the role of Marilyn Monroe, and Gary Lockwood appeared as the Don Murray character. ‘BUS STOP’ was the first film that Marylyn Monroe chose to make under a new contract. For the role, Marylyn Monroe learnt an Ozark accent, chose costumes and make-up that lacked the glamour of her earlier films, and provided deliberately mediocre singing and dancing. Joshua Logan, known for his work on Broadway, agreed to direct, despite initially doubting Marylyn Monroe's acting abilities and knowing of her reputation for being difficult. The filming took place in Idaho and Arizona in early 1956, with Marylyn Monroe "technically in charge" as the head of MMP ("Marilyn Monroe Productions," her film production company), occasionally making decisions on cinematography and with Joshua Logan adapting to her chronic lateness and perfectionism. The experience changed Joshua Logan's opinion of Marylyn Monroe, and he later compared her to Charlie Chaplin in her ability to blend comedy and tragedy.
Cast: Marilyn Monroe, Don Murray, Arthur O'Connell, Betty Field, Eileen Heckart, Robert Bray, Hope Lange, Hans Conried, Max Showalter, Arizona State University Sun Devil Marching Band (uncredited), Linda Brace (uncredited), Mary Carroll (uncredited), J.M. Dunlap (uncredited), Ed Fury (uncredited), Buddy Heaton (uncredited), Fay L. Ivor (uncredited), Richard Culvert Johnson (uncredited), Lucille Knox (uncredited), Pete Logan (uncredited), Kate MacKenna (uncredited), Jack Martin (uncredited), Helen Mayon (uncredited), David McMahon (uncredited), Del Moore (uncredited), Phil J. Munch (uncredited), Jim Katugi Noda (uncredited), James O'Rear (uncredited), Norman Papson (uncredited), Wilbur Plaugher (uncredited), Edward G. Robinson Jr. (uncredited), William Schub (uncredited), George Selk (uncredited), Henry Slate (uncredited), Bill Stanberry (uncredited), Greta Thyssen (uncredited), Casey Tibbs (uncredited) and Andy Womack (uncredited)
Director: Joshua Logan
Producer: Buddy Adler
Screenplay: George Axelrod (screenplay) and William Inge (based on the play)
Composers: Alfred Newman and Cyril J. Mockridge
Cinematography: Milton R. Krasner, A.S.C. (Director of Photography)
Image Resolution: 1080p (Color by DeLuxe)
Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1 (CinemaScope)
Audio: English: 4.0 DTS-HD Master Audio
Spanish: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono Audio
French: 4.0 DTS-HD Audio
Spanish [Castilian]: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono Audio
German: 4.0 DTS-HD Audio
Italian: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono Audio
Thai: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Audio
Turkish: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Audio
English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Cantonese, Catalan, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Mandarin [Traditional], Norwegian, Polish, Swedish, Thai and Turkish
Running Time: 96 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: The film ‘BUS STOP’ marked a turning point in the career of Marilyn Monroe, at last allowing the iconic blonde the chance to spread her wings and test the waters as a bona fide actress. Marilyn Monroe’s enthusiasm and dedication to her craft are evident in every frame of director Joshua Logan's liberal adaptation of the hit William Inge play, which through no fault of Marilyn Monroe never quite lives up to expectations. Sweet and tender one moment and grating and tedious the next, the film tells its flimsy tale in a pedestrian fashion, wisely favouring character over plot. A host of memorable moments, most of them subtle yet wonderfully affecting, are contained within, but can't lift the film to the level to which it ultimately aspires.
As Marilyn's Monroe's popularity skyrocketed during the early 1950s, the sexy star grew tired of the vapid roles she was arbitrarily assigned in comedies and musicals, and repeatedly petitioned 20th Century Fox studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck for more challenging and colourful parts...without success. Following the success of 'The Seven Year Itch,' Marilyn Monroe refused to play another ditzy dame in the idiotic “How To Be Very, Very Popular” and happily went on suspension, trading the Hollywood hurly-burly for a quieter existence in New York City and much-publicised stint at the famed Actor's Studio, home to such acclaimed Method actors as Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift. Marilyn Monroe returned to 20th Century Fox after months of diligent study, and with a new, lucrative contract in hand, to make ‘BUS STOP’ is the first film mounted in part by her own production company.
The vehicle is a good fit, as it taps into elements of Marilyn Monroe's own personality, allowing her to draw from her own experience, even if the far-fetched story never really rings true. The trite tale follows naïve cowhand Beauregard "Bo" Decker [Don Murray] in his film debut and his relentless pursuit of Chérie [Marilyn Monroe], a third-rate bar singer with starry-eyed dreams of Hollywood success. While in Phoenix for a national rodeo competition, the 21-year-old Bo is bewitched by the sexy chanteuse's ragged rendition of “That Old Black Magic” as well as her beautiful face and curvaceous figure and calls the flattered Chérie his "angel." But what seems to Chérie like a sweet puppy-dog crush soon evolves into a full-blown obsession, as the hyperactive, delusional, often obnoxious Beauregard 'Bo' Decker stalks, and then literally lassos his lady love, hoping to browbeat her into marrying him. "You have a terrible habit of overdoin' everything!" Beauregard 'Bo' Decker's devoted pal and father figure Virgil Blessing [Arthur O'Connell] screams at him, but Bo won't listen, and when his brutish tactics backfire, he and Chérie lock horns at a remote bus stop diner halfway between Arizona and Bo's Montana ranch. Whether Chérie escapes Beauregard 'Bo' Decker's clutches or succumbs to his charms forms the basis of the simple plot.
Adapted by George Axelrod, who wrote the film ‘The Seven Year Itch’ and of course ‘BUS STOP’ and nicely juxtaposes the raging hormones and impulsive, immature attitude of a wild young buck against the jaded disillusionment and vulnerability of his sensitive doe. As the film's trailer commentss, Beauregard 'Bo' Decker knows absolutely nothing about women, while Chérie knows far too much about men. Finding common ground is difficult, and as Chérie thoughtfully confides to her traveling companion, Elma Duckworth [Hope Lange], also making her film debut, "I've just gotta feel that whoever I marry has some real regard for me...aside from all that lovin' stuff." It's a line that surely mirrored Marilyn Monroe's attitude about her own life, just as Chérie mirrors Marilyn Monroe herself in many respects, a woman whom men treat as an object; whose body is valued far more than her mind; and who doggedly seeks respect and validation from the establishment. Chérie believes she'll "get treated with a little respect" in Hollywood, a fact Marilyn Monroe by this time knew all too well not to be true. Such similarities add extra poignancy and bitter irony to Marilyn Monroe's performance, lofting it high above many of her other portrayals.
And while her sensitivity and vulnerability grab the spotlight, Marilyn Monroe is too smart to completely subdue her overt sexuality. In the scene where Beauregard 'Bo' Decker barges into her bedroom, she's obviously naked under the covers, just as she was in ‘Niagara’ three years earlier, and her rendition of “That Old Black Magic” brims with flirty abandon. In fact, a sultry air permeates the entire film, which treats the subject of sex with a refreshing frankness, especially for the mid-1950s. Shots of Beauregard 'Bo' Decker frolicking in the bathtub and admiring his shirtless physique in the mirror, as well as the subplot involving the diner owner, Grace [Betty Field], and her casual physical relationship with the transient bus driver Carl [Robert Bray] further spice up the film and nicely balance Marilyn Monroe's allure.
Joshua Logan also employs extreme close-ups to great effect late in the picture, heightening dramatic impact and the intensity of emotion between Chérie and Beauregard 'Bo' Decker. Yet how hard as the film tries, the romance between these two attractive characters strains credulity. I've never seen or read the stage version of 'Bus Stop,' but I can't help but think it possesses more substance than the screen adaptation, which, like a lengthy bus trip, chugs along in fits and starts, without any rhythm or flow. Though the performances are all stellar, Joshua Logan was known as an actor's director, but his films remain largely undistinguished, despite their notoriety and success and they can't completely eclipse the loud, crass, tiresome story.
BUS STOP MUSIC TRACK LIST
THE BUS STOP SONG (1956) (Written by Ken Darby) [Sung in the opening credits off-screen by The Four Lads] [Also partially sung by a guitar-playing Arthur O'Connell (uncredited) and the bus passengers]
THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC (1942) (uncredited) (Music by Harold Arlen) (Lyrics by Johnny Mercer) [Sung by Marilyn Monroe] [Later briefly sung by Don Murray]
THE RIGHT KIND (1948) (uncredited) (Music by Lionel Newman) (Lyrics by Don George and Charles Henderson)
RYE WHISKY (1936) (uncredited) (Written by Tex Ritter)
Blu-ray Image Quality – 20th Century Fox has been doing a fine job with its Marilyn Monroe Blu-ray transfers, and the film ‘BUS STOP’ continues that tradition. The 1080p encoded image rendering is a nice step up from the previous standard-definition inferior DVD, sporting increased clarity, a cleaner image, more balanced colour timing, and a greater sense of depth. Though evident grain still remains, which preserves the film-like feel, the picture now flaunts a smoother look, and a reduction in brightness adds welcome warmth that augments the drama's intimate nature. The source material still exhibits occasional errant marks, but not nearly as much as the inferior DVD format and you really have to keep your eyes peeled to catch them. The single-strip colour exudes a surprising level of saturation and vibrancy, yet still maintains an appropriate natural tone. Though the blue sky might appear artificially enhanced, reds are bold and sassy and check out the tinted light that bathes Marilyn Monroe during “That Old Black Magic,” and the browns project a potent earthiness. Flesh tones from Marilyn Monroe's heightened alabaster complexion to Don Murray's outdoorsy tan, remain stable throughout, and deep black levels add appropriate weight. Close-ups, especially the extreme ones that dominate the film's climactic scene, can be breath-taking, showcasing both Marilyn Monroe's beauty and vulnerability, while background details, such as the busy wallpaper pattern in the hotel room and the crowd scenes at the parade and rodeo, are clear and precise. Fabrics are accurately represented, the chequered pattern of the diner uniforms resists shimmering, and no banding, noise, or digital tinkering could be detected. This is by far the best 'BUS STOP' has ever looked on home video, and Marilyn Monroe fans owe it to themselves to upgrade to this version only.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – The audio sound on this Blu-ray has been upgraded to 4.0 DTS-HD Master Audio, and though the surrounds remain pretty quiet throughout the film, the full-bodied track possesses fine presence and pleasing tonal depth. Some nice stereo separation across the front channels is immediately evident and succeeds in widening the soundscape, and the robust, country-tinged music score fills the room well. Ambient effects, such as the noise from the rodeo crowd and rowdy bar patrons slightly bleed toward the rears, and some decent bass frequencies come through, especially when the cowboys are riding bucking broncos. A wide dynamic scale keeps distortion at bay, and dialogue is well prioritized and always easy to understand. Best of all, no hiss, pops, crackles, or any other age-related imperfections rear their ugly heads. Though not a flashy audio track, the ‘BUS STOP’ audio nicely complements the film, and you can't ask for much more than that.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Theatrical Trailers [1080p] [2:25] The only extras on this Blu-ray disc, unfortunately, are the film's Theatrical Trailers, which includes: ‘BUS STOP;’ ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes;’ ‘How To Marry A Millionaire;’ ‘Niagra;’ ‘River Of No Return;’ ‘The Seven Year Itch’ and Irvin Berlin's ‘There's No Business Like Showbusiness.’ Surely there's some old Turner Classic Films of Marilyn Monroe with retrospective behind-the-scene stuff and interviews that 20th Century Fox could have dug up, licensed, and included here.
Finally, ‘BUS STOP’ is often cited as the film that made critics sit up and take Marilyn Monroe seriously as an actor, and not just another pretty face and stunning figure. While Marilyn Monroe is good here, the film itself is an old-fashioned romance that leans heavily on 1950s morals and a sort of everyone-deserves-a-second-chance message, is nothing special. The film's brand of folksy, home-spun comedy hasn't particularly aged well, and co-star Don Murray is progressively more and more grating as the yokel cowboy who practically hog-ties Marilyn into romantic submission. Minus the lack of special features, 20th Century Fox's Blu-ray release is stellar and all of the films from their Marilyn Monroe series have looked wonderful, but `Bus Stop' is only a must-buy for the biggest fans of the iconic bombshell. Most of the time I love most of Marilyn Monroe films, but this film does not quite hit the button for me, and it is something I cannot quite explain why I feel this way about this film. I have tried to like it, but for some unknown reason the characters don't quite get the full potential out of the characters or relate to them and sometimes the acting seems a little stiff, but overall, don't get me wrong, I do love this film and I am sure glad it has now been added to my ever increasing Marilyn Monroe Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado
Le Cinema Paradiso