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William A. Wellman
Innocent rodeo cowboy Bo falls in love with cafe singer Cherie in Phoenix. She tries to run away to Los Angeles but he finds her and forces her to board the bus to his home in Montana. When the bus stops at Grace's Diner the passengers learn that the road ahead is blocked. By now everyone knows of the kidnapping, but Bo is determined to have Cherie. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
Marilyn Monroe is so good here it's startling. Her Cherie (with the accent on the first syllable, remember) is one of the most lovable characters in the history of film. That the rest of the movie is rocky-going and her co-star is no match for her is unfortunate, but not fatal.
Apparently the director, Joshua Logan, was able to create a relatively peaceful environment where Monroe could completely "let go" and allow her natural fragility and sex appeal to take over. When she's on screen it's impossible to take your eyes off her, not just because she's beautiful (what starlet from the 1950's WASN'T beautiful?) but because she's laying bare her character's soul for the camera (and in the process much of her own soul as well). She isn't just reading lines with various inflections or doing bits of business like so many actors do, she's bringing the character to life.
Unforgettable is the moment where she finds herself perched on the shoulder of the crazy, lovestruck cowboy watching a parade and she's trying to pantomime to a friend in the crowd how she wound up up there. Or the way she keeps "shushing" the loud-talking bus driver so that he won't wake up the sleeping cowboy as she's planning her escape. Or the way she can't make eye contact or get her lazy backwoods accent (that is incredibly charming) to sound firm enough when she keeps trying to tell the cowboy to get lost. Her comic timing is just sublime and unteachable.
Don Murray's performance as the cowboy, criminally and inexplicably Oscar-nominated, is cloying, two-dimensional and geared for the stage, not the intimacy of film. He needs to provide some hint of vulnerabilty before he's humbled in the fist fight with the bus driver, but he is tragically not up to the task. His Beauregard is the kind of loud-mouthed, uncouth buffoon that only a greatly skilled comic actor can make sympathetic, and Murray simply doesn't know how to finesse the comic moments and make them work.
Monroe receives fine support from Arthur O'Connell as Beau's older, wiser friend Virgil Blessing, but this is her show all the way. She makes it a good movie, but one can't help imagining how much better it could have been had it been directed by someone like Kazan and co-starred possibly Rock Hudson.
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