Joan Collins, Jayne Mansfield and Dan Dailey star in this engaging drama based on a novel by John Steinbeck. Three strangers - a stripper (Mansfield), an alcoholic wife (Collins) and a ...
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Joan Collins, Jayne Mansfield and Dan Dailey star in this engaging drama based on a novel by John Steinbeck. Three strangers - a stripper (Mansfield), an alcoholic wife (Collins) and a traveling salesman (Dailey) - embark on a life-changing journey on a fateful bus ride. As the road presents challenges, each character faces his or her own shortcomings, not knowing where life will lead next.Written by
The story is based on the John Steinbeck novel, and is set in California. A small group of travelers gathers at a two-bit rural bus stop to prepare for a bus ride to a town fifty miles away. There's not a lot of action in this movie. It's mostly a character study of the passengers, the bus driver, and the bus driver's alcoholic wife, Alice (Joan Collins), who runs the bus stop restaurant.
The bus itself is old, ugly, and small. The restaurant, also, is small. Tight spaces encourage passengers to communicate with each other. There's a lot of small talk. Problems and fears of characters appear early in the plot and continue to the end. A general tone of angst and tension permeates the story.
The best segments occur during the bus ride. Obstacles make for rough going and some unintentional humor, as the bus bumps, careens, skids, and slogs along during inclement weather, and as it encounters a landslide and a rickety old bridge that must be traversed during a flood.
The film's biggest problem is a script that spends too much time at the restaurant, probably in an effort to give maximum screen time to Joan Collins. Even after the bus is miles away, the plot keeps returning to the restaurant and Joan Collins. Overall performances are acceptable, but nobody stands out in this ensemble cast, despite the presence of Jayne Mansfield and Joan Collins. Background music is downbeat, consistent with characters' moods.
Had someone other than Steinbeck been the author of the source material, I doubt that this film would even have been made. I would describe it as a minor story, a melodramatic soap opera with too much dialogue. As a 1950s film, "The Wayward Bus" isn't bad, but except for the bus ride, there isn't enough dramatic action to merit a lot of enthusiasm.
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