Play Misty for Me (Clint Eastwood / U.S., 1971):

Sprawling helicopter shots bracket the tale, the superstar on the Carmel coastline like Narcissus by the pond and then the painted portrait with its eyes slashed out. Witching hour is when egos and fantasies come out to play, the throaty voice over the airwaves materializes in the flesh to bewitch the hotshot disc-jockey (Clint Eastwood). "Hey, you're talking to your number-one fan!" She (Jessica Walter) begins as a string of one-nighters and refuses to be discarded, her unruly desire and neediness and rage prove too much for the weary Lothario who'd rather settle down with the docile artist (Donna Mills). "I was trying to join the revolt against the representational," sighs the maiden in her atelier, though Eastwood in his directorial debut is more interested in discovering his own brand of classicism in the midst of New Hollywood flash—a sturdy cement that reveals its fissures slowly. Telephoto lenses on sun-dappled exteriors contrast with modulating shadows in planar arrangements, handheld POV inserts in the vandalized bachelor pad build up to a tumbling scrim and a blade swinging at the camera. Congealed lyricism for the slushy ballad and rough vérité for the Monterey Jazz Festival, all part of the formal experiments. Above all an inquiry into the Eastwood persona itself, the pricking of the stud's complacency until the Man with No Name finds himself staring in terror at the audience, trapped in a freeze-frame with the tenacious conquest. The main kinship is with The Beguiled and there's Don Siegel at the bar counter to give his blessing, a pan from Victrola to sleeping protagonist prepares the Munch scream with castrating knife erect on pillow. "What is this, some kind of Kinsey report?" A Hitchcockian game of brunettes and blondes (Psycho figures in the scissors attack on the police sergeant), a would-be poet faced with a ferocious blast of Poe. Nothing but "lonely lovers on a cool, cool night" in the end, Fatal Attraction picks up the Madama Butterfly element. Cinematography by Bruce Surtees. With John Larch, James McEachin, Clarice Taylor, and Irene Hervey.

--- Fernando F. Croce

Back to Reviews
Back Home