Clint Eastwood's first feature as director is given an unusually rich treatment from Universal, adding a significant amount of supplemental material to highlight the actor's career transition to director (and later producer).
Laurent Bouzereau's “Play It Again: A Look Back At Play Misty For Me” documents the film's development, from Jo Heim's treatment, casting, production, and original theatrical release, using the same care and attention bestowed upon Universal's Alfred Hitchcock DVDs. The most delightful aspects are the generous, personal recollections from Eastwood himself, along with Malpaso's then-newly appointed head, Robert Daley, and actresses Jessica Walter and Donna Mills. Although Eastwood is clearly the star of the troupe, Bouzereau maintains a balance between the film's creative team, and reveals how the film served for many as a career stepping stone.
The main documentary is further supported by "The Beguiled, Misty, Don and Clint," examining the friendship and collaborations between Eastwood and veteran director Don Siegel (who made his acting debut in "Misty"). The only drawback to this adjunct documentary is the extremely low bit rate and noise reduction that's heavily evident in the brief segments from "The Beguiled," along with some of the Eastwood footage.
"Play Misty For Me" looks best during the sumptuous Carmel and Monterrey day scenes (such as the beauteous coastal sequences), with vibrant colours penetrating through slightly soft-focus cinematography. The grain of the film's stock is evident, however, during several night scenes, with green textures pulsating for lengthy episodes. Produced for under $1 million, "Play Misty For Me" was deliberately shot on location, using actual homes in place of studio sets, and the limitations of the then-fast stock are therefore more pronounced; although there's a persistent grain in somberly lit shots, the inherent flaws give the film a more realistic look, making Walter's intrusive visits and subsequent attacks on Eastwood all the more terrifying.
The clean mono track preserves the dynamic sound edits which showcase the music (like Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"), and Jessica Walter's psychotic screams (which are truly spine-tingling).
"Clint Eastwood On DVD" is really a snippet from a question Bouzereau seems to have snuck into his interview session at the very end, though Eastwood does convey his genuine delight with past works being preserved and often restored for future generations and film fans.
© 2001 Mark R. Hasan
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