Bus Stop Movie Review
BUS STOP: UNLIKE A FINE WINE, IT HASN’T AGED WELL
As a supposed romantic comedy with the iconic Marilyn Monroe, 1956’s Bus Stop just shows its age. The story about a sexy chanteuse and an overzealous cowboy tries to be sweet but only comes off as chauvinistic and insulting.
Bo Decker (Don Murray) is a 21 year old cowboy on his way to Phoenix, Arizona for a rodeo. Virgil (Arthur O’Connell) is his guardian that is accompanying him. Virgil has a talk with Bo on the way to the rodeo, explaining that it is about time for Bo to find himself an angel, or a girl. Cherie (Marilyn Monroe) is a singer at a saloon in Phoenix. When Bo sees Cherie, he realizes he has met his angel. He goes after Cherie like a bull in a china shop. She repels his advances even after admitting she has a physical attraction to him. He doesn’t understand why she doesn’t his return his feelings and doesn’t care. He plans to tie her down if he has to like his cows. When she tries to escape from him he follows her to the bus stop and on a bus where they get stuck together at a restaurant during a snow storm.
The story is not your basic love story. Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Boy goes after girl. But the boy is supposed to have charm and be likeable. That is where the story fails. Bo compares women to his farm animals and has no regard for Cherie’s feelings. All he focuses on his own agenda. He is immature and pushy. This would be fine if there was some sign of maturity by the end but there isn’t enough to make him at least endearing. It is hard to root for Bo. As for Cherie, you can’t help but hope she will eventually get away from him. As Bo, Don Murray is beyond annoying. You almost want him to go flying off the bull during the rodeo. Or maybe he does such a good job of making him irritating that it is hard to believe it when he finally sees the error of his ways. Marilyn Monroe is sweet as the exasperated Cherie who just wants to go to Hollywood. But her singing voice leaves something to be desired in this film, even with her loveable accent. All the locations in the film are a sign of old Hollywood. It was shot in Idaho, Arizona, and at the 20th Century Fox Studio. Too bad everything looks like a backdrop. But the costumes and the ladies’ makeup are a standout. From Monroe’s singing costume, to her red lips and white powder, they have stood the test of time unlike the rest of the film.
The chauvinistic lines of the movie are not relevant in today’s world and make it hard to relate to. Looking back on the film fondly is hardly an option because it comes across so insulting.
Bus Stop needs to be looked on as one of Monroe’s earlier works that didn’t showcase all of her talent. It is offensive to women with the way the male lead treats his leading lady and it is hard to focus on anything else. Watching later films of Monroe’s is a better way to remember her.