Drama, Comedy, Romance | 96 mins | Released: 1956
Director: Joshua Logan
Starring: Marilyn Monroe, Don Murray, Arthur O'Connell, Betty Field, Eileen Heckart, Robert Bray, Hope Lange
Our Rating: 7
A naive, rambunctious, overly enthusiastic and socially inept cowboy, Beauregard Decker, and his friend and father-figure Virgil Blessing take the bus from Timber Hill, Montana to Phoenix, Arizona, to participate in a rodeo. Virgil has encouraged the 21-year-old virgin, Beau, to take an interest in “girls.” Initially reluctant and frightened of the idea, Beau declares that he hopes to find an “angel” and will know her when he sees her. Making trouble everywhere they go, he continues his bad behavior in the Blue Dragon Café. There he imagines himself in love with the café’s singer, Chérie, a talentless but ambitious performer from the Ozarks with aspirations of becoming a Hollywood star. Her rendition of “That Old Black Magic” entrances him and he forces her outside, despite the establishment’s rules against it, kisses her and thinks that means they’re engaged. Chérie is physically attracted to him but resists his plans to take her back to Montana. She has no intention of marrying him and tells him so, but he’s too stubborn to listen.
The next day, Beau intends to marry Chérie after the rodeo, but she escapes. He tracks her down, and forces her on the bus back to Montana. On the way, they stop at Grace’s Diner, the same place the bus stopped on the way to Phoenix. Chérie tries to make another getaway while Beau is asleep on the bus, but the road ahead is blocked by snow and the bus won’t be leaving at all. They’re all stranded there. The bus driver, the waitress and the café owner by now all have learned that Beau is kidnapping and bullying the girl. Virgil and the bus driver fight him until he promises to apologize to Chérie and leave her alone. He, however, is unable to do so because he’s humiliated about having been beaten.
The next morning, the storm has cleared and everybody is free to go. Beau finally apologizes to Chérie for his abusive behavior and begs her forgiveness. He wishes her well and prepares to depart without her. Chérie approaches him and confesses that she’s had many boyfriends and is not the kind of woman he thinks she is. Beau confesses his lack of experience to her. Beau asks to kiss her goodbye and they share their first real kiss. All Chérie wanted from a man was respect, which she’d previously told the waitress when they sat together on the bus. This new Beau attracts Chérie. He accepts her past and this gesture touches her heart. She tells him she’ll go anywhere with him. Virgil decides to stay behind. When Beau tries to coerce him to go with them, Chérie reminds him that he can’t force Virgil to do what he wants. Having finally apparently learned his lesson, Beau offers Chérie his jacket and gallantly helps her onto the bus.
Bus Stop is a 1956 American romantic comedy film directed by Joshua Logan for 20th Century Fox, starring Marilyn Monroe, Don Murray, Arthur O’Connell, Betty Field, Eileen Heckart, Robert Bray and Hope Lange.
Unlike most of Monroe’s movies, Bus Stop is neither a full-fledged comedy nor a musical, but rather a dramatic piece; it was the first film she appeared in after studying at the Actors Studio in New York.
Monroe does however sing one song: “That Old Black Magic” by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer.
Bus Stop was based on two plays by William Inge, People in the Wind and Bus Stop. The inspiration for the play Bus Stop came from people Inge met in Tonganoxie, Kansas.
In the 1961–62 season, ABC adapted the play and film into a television series of the same name, Bus Stop starring Marilyn Maxwell as the owner of the bus station and diner. In the segment “Chérie” which most closely follows the film, Tuesday Weld performed the role of Marilyn Monroe, and Gary Lockwood appeared as the Don Murray character.
The film was shot in Idaho and Arizona.
Marilyn Monroe objected to the color of Hope Lange’s hair, claiming that it was too fair and detracted from her own. As a result, Lange’s hair was darkened.
The role of Bo Decker was intended for Fess Parker, but Parker was under contract to Walt Disney at the time, who wouldn’t release him. Parker also didn’t get the role eventually played by Jeffrey Hunter in The Searchers (1956) for the same reason and it was many years before he was even aware of it.
Don Murray has said that Marilyn Monroe was actually naked under her sheets because she thought that her character would really have been naked.
Don Murray suffered painful facial cuts when Marilyn Monroe overdid a scene in which she had to slap him with the sequined tail of her costume.
Green top with black-lace like overlay Marilyn Monroe wears (pictured on US DVD cover) had originally been worn by Susan Hayward several years earlier in same studio’s With a Song in My Heart (1952).
This was the film debut of Hope Lange.
The film was intended to star Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley. However, Col. Parker’s influence prevented this from happening.
Marilyn Monroe played Cherie, a role that Kim Stanley originated on Broadway. Some critics pointed out that Monroe’s performance was an inflection-for-inflection recreation of Stanley’s. Two years later, Stanley played a thinly-veiled version of Monroe in the The Goddess (1958).
This was also the film debut of Don Murray.
The original Broadway production of “Bus Stop” by William Inge opened at the Music Box Theater in New York on March 2, 1955, ran for 478 performances and was nominated for the 1956 Tony Award for the Best Play.
Elaine Stritch was nominated for the 1956 Tony Award (New York City) for Supporting or Features Actress in a Drama for “Bus Stop” for the role of Grace Hoylard.
In 2011, the costume worn by Marilyn Monroe in her “Black Magic” night club scene sold for $230,000.
The script for Bus Stop was also sent to Montgomery Clift, (presumedly to play the role of Bo) but Clift was not interested in it.