[Editor’s Note: This review is excerpted from Judge Barrie Maxwell’s Precedents column, Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection.]
Adapted from a play by William Inge, the film Bus Stop provides Marilyn Monroe with her first starring dramatic role and she makes the most of it. She plays Cherie, a singer at a bar in Phoenix, whose path crosses that of young cowboy, Bo Decker, in town for the rodeo. In fact, it’s Bo’s first trip off his ranch in Montana and he’s got it in his head that if he meets the right girl, he’ll marry her and carry her off to Montana. Bo decides that Cherie is the right girl. Cherie, of course, has something to say about that. The story reaches its climax in a bus stop where the principals all become stranded during a snow storm.
Prior to filming Bus Stop, Marilyn had spent some time in New York studying at the Actors Studio with Lee and Paula Strasberg. Presumably, she was able to parlay some of what she learned there into the fine performance she gives in Bus Stop. The film is one that mixes moments of comedy with ones of pathos, yet Marilyn seems quite believable when required to project either. As Bosley Crowther said in the New York Times, “(director Josh) Logan has got her to do a great deal more than wiggle and pout and pop her big eyes.” Anyone who has not experienced seeing Marilyn Monroe in anything other than her song-and-dance routines will get a pleasant surprise in Bus Stop.
The other main role in the film — that of Bo Decker — is played by Don Murray in his film debut. He is excellent too. The Decker character, which starts out as a brash young man, soon becomes obnoxious and even rather dislikable by the middle of the film, however, and you soon would like to see Murray get well and truly popped. Hang on, your wish gets granted. Arthur O’Connell as Virgil, Bo’s friend, and Betty Field as Grace, the owner of Grace’s Diner, are memorable in support.
Bus Stop has been made available on DVD in a 2.55:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. It and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes are the best looking of the titles in the Diamond Collection. Colours (by De Luxe) are bright and faithfully rendered. Darker scenes exhibit very good shadow detail. Edge enhancement is virtually non-existent. The disc is a pleasure to view, particularly in comparison to the old VHS pan and scan efforts previously available. The sound is available as either Dolby Digital 4.0 surround or the original 2.0 stereo. The 4.0 track doesn’t do much to improve on the original stereo which already demonstrated fine separation effects.
The disc’s supplements are perhaps the most meager in the Collection — only several trailers, the restoration comparison, and several lobby card images.