Play Misty for Me (1971)

Play Misty for Me (1971)

“There are no strings… But I never said anything about not coming back for seconds.”

A psychotically obsessed fan (Jessica Walter) of a small town radio DJ (Clint Eastwood) seduces him, then refuses to leave him or his girlfriend (Donna Mills) alone.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Clint Eastwood Films
  • Obsessive Love
  • Psychopaths
  • Radio
  • Winning Him/Her Back
  • Womanizers

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “impressive directorial debut” by Clint Eastwood once again — as in The Beguiled (1971) — features a character “who is impressed by his ability to attract women” only to have “his taking women for nothing more than sexual playthings backfir[ing] on him.”

He writes that while “Eastwood’s come up against great villains, from Lee Van Cleef in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly to Andy Robinson in Dirty Harry,” the “superpsychotic Evenlyn… takes a back seat to no one.”

Peary notes that “the film is exciting, weirdly amusing, and scary (many critics compare the knife scenes to Psycho), but the most enjoyable thing about it is watching Eastwood’s cool-talking disk jockey become increasingly confused, perturbed, and terrified by this lunatic he has no control over.”

He adds, “Significantly, no future Eastwood character would become involved with two women at once; in fact, Eastwood never again exploited his image as a romantic lead.”

I agree that this remains an enjoyably taut and tense stalker film — though I’m frustrated by a couple of plot points that don’t make much sense (or at least position the characters as waaaay dumber than one would expect). However, Walter’s powerhouse performance makes this worth a one-time look despite its flaws, and the overall gist of the movie — that fame and sexual attraction can lead to incredibly risky encounters — remains just as powerful as ever. Excellent use is made of location shooting in Carmel, California, where Eastwood eventually became mayor.

Note: Highly recommended is the 2001 documentary Play It Again: A Look Back at ‘Play Misty for Me’, in which Eastwood, Walter, Mills, and others reflect back on their experiences making this movie.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Jessica Walter as Evelyn
  • Fine cinematography

  • Beautiful location footage

Must See?
Yes, for Walter’s performance, and as a strong directorial debut by Eastwood.


  • Noteworthy Performance(s)


One thought on “Play Misty for Me (1971)

  1. Agreed; a once-must. The only reason to see this stalker popcorn flick is Walter’s fearless performance. When she saw the role on the page, she must’ve thought, ‘The only way to pull this off is full-throttle. This woman is bonkers and that can be juicy.’

    Otherwise, I wouldn’t say it’s all that much of a movie; it certainly ain’t the high art that Hitchcock elevated ‘Psycho’ to. But Walter sort of demands to be seen… or else.

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