“God you’re dumb…”
In honor of one of the BEST upcoming blogathons that revisits upon us great deeds of malice and danger… The Great Villain Blogathon 2016 hosted by Kristina of Speakeasy, Ruth of Silver Screenings, and Karen of Shadows and Satin coming up on May 15-20th, 2016.
I’ll be covering two notorious true-life crimes involving folie a deux. First Truman Capote’s adapted story- Richard Brooks directs IN COLD BLOOD (1967) about the murder of the Clutters a Kansas family who were blitz attacked by psychopathic punks, two self-loathing homosexuals Perry & Dick portrayed phenomenally by Robert Blake and the remarkable character actor- Scott Wilson. Their embodiment of pure emotional sickness is burned into the screen like acid.
Then a more off-the-beaten path yet ruthlessly cruel and just as true and ghastly a tale about a couple- Shirley Stoler and Tony Lo Bianco as Ray Fernandez and Martha Beck who derive pleasure from luring wealthy, lonely older women to their deaths for money in director Leonard Kastle’s THE HONEYMOON KILLERS (1969)
In the spirit of this upcoming event, featuring all sorts of criminals & evil types, I thought I’d briefly pull out Evelyn as a kind of amuse-bouche to the huge Blogathon coming up in May! I felt like tossing out a crumb to entice those of you who will be titillated by the fantastic submissions by bloggers paying tribute to the villains, villainesses, and anti-heroes we love to hate/love… fear and cheer!
Play Misty For Me is scripted by Jo Heims (The Girl in Lover’s Lane 1960, The Devil’s Hand 1961, uncredited Dirty Harry 1971, You’ll Like My Mother 1972) Heims has a gift for extracting the perfect essence of mental instability on screen and constructing an atmosphere of unease in otherwise beautiful settings.
Ahhh… The Enduring Derangement of Evelyn Draper:
Set in the cool quaint and laid-back atmosphere of 70s coastal California living, Clint Eastwood who makes his directorial debut, plays the smooth-talking late-nite Carmel Disc jockey, David ‘Dave’ Garver who winds up becoming the object of desire for a psychopathic stalker, the love-sick Evelyn Draper, brought to ‘too real’ life by extraordinary actress Jessica Walter.
Each night, she calls the radio station to lure David, her sultry voice like dark amber honey dripping on the other end of the phone, mysterious with that hint of perilous in flavor and tone. Evelyn epitomizes the deranged & obsessive fan who becomes so fixated on David that she keeps calling, asking David to play the classic torch song “Misty” sung, composed, and performed by Erroll Garner.
This iconic performance must be the catalyst for Glenn Close’s role as the demented stalker Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction (1987). Play Misty For Me set the tone, and sent the moralizing message, that it’s dangerous and amoral to folly with a random, casual one-night stand, and that having only ‘respectable relationships’ and monogamous or marital sex will keep you safe from being butchered into a puddle of blood splatter evidence…
All snarkiness aside, Eastwood has offered a beautifully painted– groovy, easy world, filled with jazz and seascapes that underscore this moral tale about the backlash of the sexual revolution and its warnings to beware. And to be fair to this symbol of female rage, Evelyn is no more than a ‘sexual object’ to David. As much as Evelyn has fantasized about a great romance with this very charismatic guy, that ‘love’ does not exist. David has used her to fulfill his own desires and needs, yet he is not seen as predatory, and she is. The difference is, he uses his penis and she must wield the nearest symbol, something else that penetrates, a knife or a good old-fashioned pair of large, sharp scissors.
David picks Evelyn up in a bar and has a one-night roll in the sheets after she tells him that she’s his ‘Misty’ girl. David warns her that he’s involved with someone (artsy painter, Donna Mills), but she assures him that she just wants one night with him, no strings attached. Unfortunately, those strings are like steel cables and they are tethered to David with a fierce homicidal grip. When he gets home the next night, Evelyn returns to his place with steaks and all the fixings for a romantic dinner. David definitely now senses something a bit ‘off’ with Evelyn, but what the hell, he sleeps with her again. Her inner machinations and jealous rage rears its ugly head when David’s neighbor responds to her rude and rowdy behavior while firmly (getting lost already) escorting her to the car. She blasts the horn and opens up a mouth like a trucker after a six-pack of Schlitz, “Yeah, Get lost Asshole!” David squints, that classic Eastwood glance when he’s containing his ‘miffed’, and his look is forever delivered on screen.
Of course, the one woman David is truly in love with Tobie (Donna Mills) shows up soon after and they begin where they left off. Tobie had left for a while because of his womanizing. Evelyn starts shadowing David, following him to a bar where she gets belligerent, demanding he spends more time with her, after which she steals his car keys. She shows up at his house, fully naked under a smashing coat… but crazy, and of course David calls the police. No… David sleeps with her one more time. Naked trumps crazy with a smooth-talking womanizing squinting louse! He promises her that he’ll call her. Sure Dave sure…
But David does not call her. He also misses a special dinner she has planned. She calls into KRML to chastise him for missing their date. He drives to her place to break off the three– one night stands with her. Evelyn reveals her primal rage once more but calls David later on filled with regrets, but this time he is done with her. No really… No more naked trumps crazy.
Evelyn stalks David while he is busy rekindling his romance with Tobie. Evelyn shows up at his place once again, this time going into his bathroom and slicing her wrists. This suicide attempt prompts David’s sense of guilt, so he spends the night and the following day sitting with her, breaking a date he has with Tobie. The shot of David panicked and befuddled state while his hand holds Evelyn now resting in bed after her suicide attempt looks like this…
Evelyn: Why didn’t you take my call?
David ‘Dave’ Garver: Where does it say that I gotta drop what I’m doing and answer the phone every time it rings?
Evelyn: Do you know your nostrils flare out into little wings when you’re mad? It’s kinda cute.
David ‘Dave’ Garver: I’m just trying to tell you something. I’m trying to tell you there’s a telephone. I pick it up and I dial it.
The film is a groovy and intense nail-biter as Evelyn spirals dangerously out of rational’s orbit, stalking, sneaking around, and ultimately going in and out of homicidal fits.
She sabotages a business lunch with a potential radio station executive Madge (Irene Hervey), insulting her with foul-mouthed accusations, trashes David’s house, takes a butcher knife and slashes to ribbons David’s maid Birdie (Clarice Taylor- Tell Me You Love Me, Junie Moon (1970), Such Good Friends (1971) and Five on the Black Hand Side (1973)).
The police come and take Evelyn away in the happy wagon, and David briefly gets a reprieve from the madness until he finds out that she has been released when he gets that familiar yet chilling request over the phone to “Play Misty” Evelyn assures him that she has gotten straightened out and is leaving for a new job in Hawaii. Leaving him with a creepy clue as she quotes a passage from Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Annabel Lee.’
Once again, Evelyn appears in David’s house, where she attacks him with a very large carving knife. Sgt. McCallum (John Larch) appears on the scene, tells David to change the locks, and wants to try and track Evelyn down, by luring her out with that memorable song Misty, by tracing the phone call.
Cleverly Evelyn manipulates Tobie into becoming her new roommate named of course, Annabel, thus abducting David’s sane and wholesome as pasteurized milk girlfriend Tobie, and ultimately tries to annihilate David’s cool world and himself her lover, who has spurned her affections. Evelyn as the ‘monstrous feminine’ power finally erupts into a climatic vengeful frenzy, as a vicious butcher who has a one-track libido for a guy who it takes half the film to finally see how sick she really is. It only took three one-night stands to get through to this smirking Lothario. Don’t get me wrong, I would have swooned for Eastwood myself back in the day of bell bottoms, guys with enormous sideburns, jazz festivals, and free love!
The film also features one of the most memorable beautiful love songs sung by iconic songstress Roberta Flack (one of my all-time idols as a songwriter), who delivers a quiver inducing The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, which underscores a love-making scene in the woods between the naked Eastwood and Donna Mills. Groovy just watch out for poison oak and briars.
Mills who plays David’s pretty girlfriend Tobie gets in the way of Evelyn’s imagined love affair, and winds up–tied up at knife point while the immortal words are spoken out of that psychotically cold and emotionless voice saying… “God you’re dumb.”
Evelyn Draper is perhaps one of the most mystifying and intoxicating evil culprits of skin-crawling obsessive love, setting the pace for future female monsters, personifying the ‘monstrous feminine’ a knife ( yoohoo–CASTRATING!!) wielding threat to both male and female alike.
The incredible transformation that Jessica Walters performs for us is nothing short of brilliant as this sophisticated lady creates an otherwise appealing attractive single seductress into a predatory huntress with no sense of right or wrong. Just an obsessive blood lust to dominate and possess David, the savvy cool as the center seed of a cucumber DJ who spins records and turns on the ladies with his velveteen voice. Her menacing, neurotic, and unstable behavior builds perfectly creating unease as we watch her devolve into a disturbing feminine force (she uses many feminine social mechanisms to try and entrap David). Evelyn Draper is one powerful, memorable villainess, thanks to Jessica Walters’ incredibly believable manifestation of female rage, rage against a system of morals that aren’t the same for men!
Steve McQueen turned down the lead role, claiming that the female lead was stronger than the male.-IMDb tidbit
Universal Pictures originally wanted Lee Remick cast in the role of Evelyn, but director Clint Eastwood had been impressed with Jessica Walter‘s performance in Sidney Lumet‘s film The Group (1966), and cast her instead.-IMDb tidbit
At the end of the movie, when Evelyn is seen floating in the sea, that is actually Jessica Walter, not a stand-in or a body double.-IMDb tidbit
Your Everlovin’ MonsterGirl saying ‘Play Misty For Me’, but please leave the knife in the kitchen drawer first!
5 thoughts on “Fiend of the Day! Evelyn Draper – Play Misty For Me (1971) “I did it because I LOVE YOU!” ❤️”
I STILL have not seen this film. Sounds like a wild ride, especially Jessica Walter’s performance. It also sounds intriguing, since it explores female rage.
On a side note, Clint Eastwood had the pouffiest hair in the 1970s-80s, didn’t he? Even as a cowboy, riding in heat and grime all day, he’ll remove his hat and have salon-fresh bouffant hair.
Haha! You have to see it. But it’s a scary ride through rejected lovers rage! I love Eastwood’s hair & those SIDEBURNS!!!. It has a will of it’s own. That’s how cool he is. But seriously for his directorial debut, he did an incredible job of building the tension and utilizing Jessica Walter’s talent. Also the use of music and atmosphere make it a really slick film that still holds up to scrutiny today. I think it’s the definitive film of it’s type… I wanted to get pumped up for your upcoming Bad Ass Blogathon! Cheers Joey PS: See ya tomorrow…
Eastwood is one thing, but egads, I really hate those female short hairdos with ear-flaps. GAHHHHHHH!
Ha! Helmets with ear-flaps indeed!!!
Wow, what an awesome post on an iconic film, written and illustrated perfectly. You’ve captured everything I love about it, from the glorious Carmel coastline to the perfect performances of Eastwood, Mills and especially Jessica Walter in her most unforgettable role. Without this film, Eastwood’s brilliant directorial debut, we would never have had Fatal Attraction.
Love your blog!