Play Misty for Me is a 1971 American psychological thriller film, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, in his directorial debut with Jessica Walter and Donna Mills as co-stars. The story-line was originally set in Los Angeles, but at Eastwood’s insistence, the film was shot in the more comfortable surroundings of the actual Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.
The girl (Jessica Walter) calls up every night at about the same time and asks the disc jockey to play “Misty” for her. Some nights he does. He’s (Clint Eastwood) the all-night man on a small station in Carmel who plays records, reads poems, and hopes to make it someday in the big city. ” Later, he meets the woman at a bar he goes to often, and they go back to her house together and make love. The next morning, he leaves, figuring it was just a one-night stand, but when he gets home, the woman, Evelyn Draper (Jessica Walter) shows up with groceries and starts to make herself at home. Dave decides to go with it, and later sees that his old girlfriend, Tobie Williams (Donna Mills), is back in town, and the two become close again. Evelyn begins stalking him through the middle part of the movie but don’t let that keep you away; she pops out when you least expect it. Even Eastwood’s friends and workers are not unsusceptible from her violence. Things get even worse when she damages his house and attacks his cleaning lady with a butcher’s knife. Evelyn’s admitted to a psychiatric hospital and this enables Dave to re-establish his relationship with Tobie Williams (Donna Mills). Tobie, who has recently returned to the Carmel area, is the woman he loves and their relationship develops well until further complications follow when Dave is told that Evelyn has been released from hospital.
The acting performances are consistently very good in this movie but Jessica Walter is outstanding in a role that requires her to be ultra scary. Her capacity to fly into a rage at the flick of a switch is astonishingly good and the way in which she portrays the manipulative side of Evelyn’s character also works well. Clint’s smooth, late-night D.J. is powerless in the face of Jessica Walter’s stalker, as she sets out to turn their one night stand into a lasting, meaningful relationship. Eastwood is quoted as saying that he was unsure of how his directing debut would be received. He disguised himself and went to a theatre showing Play Misty For Me, where he was pleased at the audience’s frightened reactions. With this film, he began a pattern of bringing his pictures in under budget and ahead of schedule. Departing from tradition Eastwood opts out using a musical score in keeping with traditional suspense thrillers. Play Misty for Me’ may feel more dated than the 70’s fashion in some areas, markedly the violent sequences which seem amateur in this day and age, but the excellent foundations in plot, script and acting mean the film remains a good watch some 40 years on.