Monday, August 27, 2012

How the f*** did this happen?

Happy Monday everyone.  I hope you had a wonderful weekend filled with great movies from yesterday and today that made you smile.  I, unfortunately, didn't.  LOL, I watched two films (I know, such a low number for a weekend) and wasn't a fan of either.  Last night in particular was rough.  I decided to indulge in some Marilyn Monroe, who I  happen to adore, and so I put on 'Bus Stop', a film that is largely considered one of her finest cinematic moments.  She personally considered it a film that legitimized her as a serious actress and so I was anticipating something special.  From the very first scene I knew that this was going to be a hot mess.

That name didn't mean much to me at the moment, since I recognized it but could place any actual performance with the name, but then he started speaking and I felt vomit and bile coming up from the depths of my stomach. 

Murray doesn't seem to have an off switch.  He doesn't even seem to have a lower speed.  He is a one note cowboy who merely screams from the films opening to the films closing (or like five minutes shy of closing).  His final moment with Monroe was touching and perfectly played, but until that point he's an obnoxious ball of energy that made my face literally cringe.  Honestly, the only thing I could think of while watching this movie was...

After the film concluded, Robert Osborn informed me that Murray received an OSCAR NOMINATION for this performance.  Now, seriously, HOW THE F*** DID THAT HAPPEN?  Really, this instantly lands on my list of one of the WORST Oscar nominated performances ever.  I'm just baffled that anyone, at the time or now, could consider this a good performance, let alone Oscar worthy.  I've seen some nominated performances that made me scratch my head, but this one takes the cake.  He's loud and abrasive and just plain stupid and his antics, while played with conviction, make him appear like the biggest idiot in film history.  The film's failure lies not only in Murray's terrible one-note performance but in the ridiculous scripting, which took an interesting premise and turned it into an eye-rolling tragedy.  Poor Monroe tries really hard to stretch herself here, and she nails the emotional layering of the character (her character is the most complex) but her accent grows more and more obvious as the film progresses and actually takes away from the impact she's making.

Yeah, I rather hated this film.

I read something interesting on IMDB about Virg and the idea that he could have been gay or bisexual and had a longing for Bo.  I actually support this in a way because of the very arguements presented by dmnemaine.  Sure, he's accused of trying to read too far into the film, but I think that anyone should be alloted that ability since film is made for personal interpretation.  The thing is, I noticed it while watching the film, before ever visiting the IMDB page.


  1. I liked the film more than you did (3/4), but that was largely do to Monroe's performance.

    I completely agree on Murray, but his performance is just one of those the Academy has historically gone for, unfortunately. It's loud, and some could call it "funny". It was right up their alley.

    I really wish Monroe had been nominated though. The accent was certainly noticeable, but I thought she nailed that role. Just saw The Seven Year Itch and River of No Return, and I loved her in those too.

  2. UGH, I do love me some Monroe, like A LOT. I give her the win in 1959 for Some Like it Hot and I nominate her in 1955 for The Seven Year Itch and she'd make my top twelve for The Prince and the Showgirl. 1961 is SUPER TIGHT for me, but she's right on the cuff of a nomination for The Misfits...and she actually may make it in depending on how I feel on the day I actually finalize that year :-P

    1. I haven't updated it on my blog yet, but I now give Monroe the win for The Seven Year Itch. And I might switch my 1959 pick to Audrey Hepburn for The Nun's Story. Assuming I switch my '59 pick, Monroe would also have noms for River of No Return, Bus Stop, and Some Like It Hot. She could slide into my '61 lineup, but I'm not sure. Off the top of my head, it'd look like this:

      Harriet Andersson (Through a Glass Darkly)
      Ruby Dee (A Raisin in the Sun)
      Audrey Hepburn (Breakfast at Tiffany's)
      Sophia Loren (Two Women)
      Natalie Wood (West Side Story)

    2. I love Dee, but I have her in supporting. Right now, 1961 is all about MacLaine and Girardot for me. MacLaine's performance in The Children's Hour is ah-mazing and was my winner for a long time until I saw Rocco and His Brothers! I think right now my lineup looks like:

      Bergman/Goodbye Again
      Girardot/Rocco and His Brothers
      Hepburn/Breakfast at Tiffany's
      Loren/Two Women
      MacLaine/The Children's Hour

      with Monroe and Moreau just missing. I haven't seen Through the Glass Darkly yet though, so things may change after I see that.

      Dee wins my supporting award that year, at the moment.

    3. Doh! Good point on Dee. Had her as a flex spot, but shifting her to supporting for a MacLaine nod. Somehow I forgot about her performance, which happens when you do a lineup off the top of your head. ;)

      I had Piper Laurie as my supporting winner, but I'm switching to Dee since they're now in the same category. :)

      I should be seeing Love in the Afternoon in a day or two, but I must see Rocco and His Brothers.

    4. Rocco and His Brothers is insanely good. It wins Picture/Director/Screenplay/Actress/Actor (Renato Salvatori)/Editing/Cinematography for me. It is one of the finest films I've ever seen; honestly.

    5. WOW. I'll try to get to that soon then. :)

  3. I likewise love Marilyn but Bus Stop isn't one of my favorites of her films. I like it well enough in spite of Don Murray, who you're right pitches his performance far too high but that's Josh Logan's fault as well as Murray's. But even with Murray braying like a moose in heat there are fine performances from not just Marilyn but Arthur O'Connell, Eileen Heckart and Murray's real life bride, they were newlyweds when they filmed this, Hope Lange. Even with their good work though Murray's clown act keeps me from watching this very often.

    I know Marilyn looked on this film fondly and her reasons are good ones, it being the picture Fox had purchased expressly for her after her walkout for better roles and it certainly gave her more to work with than her previous film There's No Business Like Show Business. I love that shiny excuse for stringing a bunch of Irving Berlin tunes together but I can see her frustration in being cast in it.

    Looking back now she actually has several terrific performances in her pre-Bus Stop work. Aside from her brilliant turn in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, she quite haunting in Don't Bother to Knock and she's deceptively feral in Niagara, one of my favorites of her filmography.

    I also have a weak spot for River of No Return even though her work in it is spotty at best. She made it under studio duress remarking privately that they could make her be in the film but they couldn't make her be good in it. She's best in the musical numbers and with the young boy but her unease is often apparent, the fact that she wasn't more difficult while it was being made was because she and Bob Mitchum were old friends, he had worked in a factory with her first husband and out of respect for him she behaved but between her forced casting in this and Show Business it really lite the fuse that lead to many of her problems with the studio.

    Another reason and a role that could have really taken her career in another direction was the studios refusal to loan her out for the lead in The Big Heat. Fritz Lang had requested her and Cohn tried to borrow her but Fox wanted too much money. Lang knew she could be a handful having worked with her in Clash by Night, another intriguing early performance and her most atypical in that she plays just a regular girl, albeit a very attractive girl but still not one who stands out and does well by it, but felt she was right for gangster's moll Debbie. I can't imagine anyone being better in the part than Gloria Grahame, another unique and troubled actress that I love, but I think Marilyn would have been a fascinating Debbie and coupled with Niagara it might have lead to her being more of a noir heroine. She had so many of the qualities to make that work for her. Oh well, not to be...not to be.

    1. Monroe was an interesting actress, because there was such a stigma regarding her sex-icon persona and yet she had a depth that she wasn't often credited with. Her later work was astonishingly good, and showed this depth, especially her role in The Misfits, but it was sadly her last role.