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Joshua Logan
Marilyn Monroe, Don Murray, Arthur O'Connell, Betty Field, Eileen Heckart, Robert Bray, Hope Lange
Writing Credits:
George Axelrod, William Inge (play)

The coming of age of Bo Decker ... and the girl who made him a man!

A naive but stubborn cowboy falls in love with a saloon singer and tries to take her away against her will to get married and live on his ranch in Montana.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1
English DTS-HD MA 4.0
French DTS 4.0
Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0
Castillian Dolby Digital 1.0
German DTS 4.0
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0
Thai Dolby Digital 2.0
Turkish Dolby Digital 2.0
Brazilian Portuguese
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 94 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 7/30/2013

• Trailers


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Bus Stop [Blu-Ray] (1956)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 13, 2013)

Time for some musical trivia! As I noted in my review of 1959’s Some Like It Hot, when I hear that title, I tend to think of the 1985 song from Power Station instead of the classic film. Hot isn’t the only name of a Marilyn Monroe film that has been used, though the other examples of which I can think are more obscure, and I doubt any of them actually were based on the Marilyn flicks.

Of course, the most famous Marilyn link in pop music comes from Elton John’s “Candle In the Wind”, but that doesn’t use a film title, so it doesn’t count in this category. It’s a stretch, but the Kinks’ “Misfits” connects to Monroe’s 1961 film The Misfits.

Another example doesn’t require any modification. Tin Machine’s “Bus Stop” perfectly steals the name of Marilyn’s 1956 effort. Are the two related in any manner? None that I can discern, but at least I had a little fun trying to think of additional Monroe-related song titles.

That task was much more entertaining than the film version of Bus Stop itself. At the start of Bus Stop, we meet Beau Decker (Don Murray), a young cowboy who has never left his rural surroundings. His older friend and protector “Virge” (Arthur O’Connell) takes him to a rodeo in Phoenix and also relates the facts of life along the way. Now that Beau’s 21, he needs to rope himself a human filly, and Virge encourages Beau to find a plain, homey gal to live with him on the farm.

Unfortunately, brash young Beau decides that he wants an “angel”, and as soon as they get to the big city, he sets his sights on nightclub “chantooze” Cherie (Monroe). Virginal Beau doesn’t seem like a good match for Cherie since she’s taken many a turn around the track, but this hard-headed dude won’t take no for an answer. As such, he virtually kidnaps Cherie as he insists that they get married.

The action comes to a head when their return trip stalls at a small bus stop. Snow blocks the road, so the gang - which includes bus driver Carl (Robert Bray) and diner owner Grace (Betty Field) – needs to spend a night at this place. That’s where the relationship between Cherie and Beau reaches a climax and matters eventually resolve themselves.

Throughout much of Stop, the movie seems to have trouble deciding if it wants to be a broad comedy or if it prefers to take a more serious, dramatic tone. Sure, it’s possible for films to include both tones, but that kind of flick needs to feel more decisive. I never get that impression of Stop. The emphasis seems muddled and confused most of the time, and this leaves the entire project as something less than solid.

Nonetheless, Bus Stop might be tolerable if not for its leads. Marilyn has received many plaudits for her work as the faded Southern belle, but I have no idea why. Cherie represents one of Monroe’s few cinematic stretches; this was a rare part in which she didn’t play a ditzy bombshell. Granted, it’s not much of a stretch, as Cherie doesn’t exactly qualify as Mensa material, and she uses her sexuality to get by in life, but I will acknowledge that the character goes beyond the usual superficial qualities we associate with Marilyn’s persona.

Unfortunately, Monroe overplays the role so heavily that any nuances are completely obliterated. Her cornpone accent comes and goes, and Marilyn wants so badly for us to regard her as an Actress With a Capital “A” that she bludgeons any personality or charm the character may contain. Monroe aptly portrays Cherie’s tired, trod-upon aspects, but otherwise she seems lifeless and unconvincing.

In comparison with her main costar, however, Marilyn looks like Oscar material. As Beau, Murray offers one of the all-time terrible performances. He emotes so heavily that he’d be too cartoony for Hee-Haw.

Murray makes Beau into the absolute stereotype of the cowboy, as he’s loud, overbearing, and darned near unbearable. Yes, he quiets down toward the end of the movie, but this change of tone appears unbelievable because of his prior excesses. Beau would probably be a tough character to like under the best of circumstances, but the lack of subtlety and compassion with which Murray plays the part ensures that much of the audience will despise him.

Actually, I probably shouldn’t speak for others, so I’ll leave it at this: I loathed Beau, and I didn’t enjoy Bus Stop. It was a weak excuse for a romantic comedy, for a character drama, or for pretty much anything else I can imagine. This film enjoys a solid reputation among Marilyn fans, but I can’t figure out why, as it seems like a dud to me.

One footnote: as I watched Bus Stop, I couldn’t help but notice how much Cherie sounded like Luanne from King of the Hill. I don’t know if Brittany Murphy consciously emulated Marilyn’s performance, but I think clear similarities arose.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus D-

Bus Stop appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.55:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. I thought this became a strong transfer.

Sharpness largely appeared quite positive, as most of the film was crisp and well-defined. Some mild softness interfered with a few wider shots, but these were rare instances. As a whole, the movie came across as distinct and nicely detailed. Moiré effects and jagged edges caused no concerns, and I saw no issues with edge haloes or noise reduction. Print flaws failed to mar this blemish-free presentation.

Colors appeared nice. The film went with a natural palette that showed pretty peppy tones, so I felt the hues came across well. Black levels were deep and dense, and the movie exhibited positive levels of contrast. Shadow detail seemed fine; some day-for-night photography inevitably looked a little thick, but most low-light shots appeared appealing. Only the mild softness kept this from “A”-level consideration, as it was a consistently solid image.

When I took the film’s vintage into consideration, I found the DTS-HD MA 4.0 soundtrack of Bus Stop to be impressive. No, this wasn’t a mix that will show off your home theater, but I felt it worked nicely for something that accompanied a 57-year-old film.

Not surprisingly, the soundfield remained fairly anchored within the forward spectrum. In that realm, audio seemed neatly localized and distinct for the most part. Music showed fine stereo separation and meshed together well, and effects popped up from logical areas within the environment. Most of the latter tended toward ambient sounds, but they still created a reasonably realistic atmosphere. The surrounds added a decent kick to much of the music, and the effects also got minor reinforcement as well.

As a whole, the use of speech tended to be wide and for the most part, dialogue was well-placed within the spectrum. A few lines tended to crop up in vague places, but these were in the minority, so I found the track to provide a largely satisfying soundfield.

Audio quality was also good for the era. Dialogue appeared a little thin but the lines usually sounded relatively warm and natural, and I discerned no problems related to intelligibility. Some louder bits showed slight edginess, but these were rare, as most of the speech seemed distinct and clean.

Effects also appeared reasonably accurate and realistic, and they showed no signs of distortion. Music was the highlight of the package, as Stop boasted fairly bright and vivid songs throughout the film. Highs seemed to be nicely crisp and clear, and low-end displayed modest but solid depth and tightness. No, the track didn’t provide great bang, but I thought it sounded very good for such an old movie.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD from 2001? Audio offered a little more zing, but visuals showed the more obvious improvements, as the image seemed cleaner, tighter and more dynamic. This was a clear step up in quality.

Only minor extras appear here. In addition to the trailer for Bus Stop, we get promos for Niagara, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, River of No Return, The Seven-Year Itch, and There’s No Business Like Show Business.

The Blu-ray drops some of the DVD’s extras, but we don’t lose anything substantial. The Blu-ray lacks some pictures and a restoration demonstration; neither goes missed.

However, I’d prefer to check out 94 minutes of “Restoration Comparisons” rather than sit through Bus Stop again. From stiff pacing to a ham-handed script to painful acting, Stop misfired on virtually all cylinders. The Blu-ray presents very good picture and audio but includes only minor supplements. While this becomes a nice presentation, the movie itself stinks.

To rate this film, visit the original review of BUS STOP

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