Play Misty for Me (1971)

Before she was Lucille Bluth, Jessica Walter scared the hell out of the men of 1971 with her role as Evelyn Draper, the caller who continually asks KRML-FM* DJ Dave Garver (Clint Eastwood, making his directorial debut) to “play “Misty” for me.”

What started as a simple evening of sex — well, for Dave at least — has turned obsessive and he thinks he cuts Evelyn loose. She responds by slasher her wrists, then destroying his house and even stabbing his housekeeper (I didn’t realize DJs on 500 watt stations made enough to have servants).

While she’s in prison, Dave gets back with his ex-girlfriend Tobie (Donna Mills**) and deals with calls and letter from Evelyn that concern Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee.” And oh yeah — she proves how cured she is by getting in bed with him and trying to stab him with a gigantic butcher knife.

Of course, she ends up taking his Tobie hostage and Dave has to punch her through a window, which is how I assume folks dealt with spurned women in 1971.

While Eastwood was sweating out his first-time behind the camera, he had help from his buddy Don Siegel (the director of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers), who also plays a bartender, as well as Siegel’s usual team of cinematographer Bruce Surtees, editor Carl Pingitore and composer Dee Barton. It worked out — Eastwood came out $50,000 under budget and four days ahead of schedule.

Kino Lorber has just re-released this on blu ray, with some great extras to go with the new 2K transfer. There’s commentary by film historian Tim Lucas, an interview with Donna Mills, a video essay with film historian Howard S. Berger, a documentary on the film, a featurette about Siegel and Eastwood, and even the Trailers From Hell segment where Adam Rifkin discusses the film. You can get it here and it’s yet another great release from Kino Lorber, who are putting out so much good stuff as of late.

We also reviewed Play Misty for Me — with another take on the film — back in March as part of our “Exploring: Radio Stations on Film” week of film reviews.

*1410 AM, a real station in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, the same town Eastwood was the mayor from 1986-1988.

**The greatest thing Donna Mills ever did was her how-to video, The Eyes Have It. Here’s  some clips.

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