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Introspection Goes to Hollywood
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written by RJones3 June 27, 2007 - 11:15 AM PDT
I recently attended the play on which this 1956 movie is based at a local playhouse and thought I might get some insight by viewing the movie. Though both emerged from the Eisenhower era, there is a world of difference. The play by William Inge is a claustrophobic meditation on loneliness, the movie an expansive expression of Americana. For Inge the play was "only a composite picture of various kinds of love, ranging from the innocent to the depraved." The movie is mainly a vehicle for Marilyn Monroe, torn as ever between her promotion as sex symbol and her efforts to be a serious actor. The rodeo which is barely mentioned in the play becomes a central event in the movie, complete with actual lassoing of the hapless Cherie (Monroe). Instructive are the efforts to sanitize the original script. One of the funniest lines in the play, delivered by the chastened Bo ("Virgil says I am virgin enough for both of us"), is bowdlerized in the movie because it implies that sex occurs between Bo (Don Murray) and Cherie. In the play it is clear that a sexual initiation has triggered Bo's manic behavior, while in the movie Bo does not quite understand what "physical attraction" means. The poetic and alcoholic Dr. Lyman, perhaps the most complex character in the play, is jettisoned in the movie because of his unsavory taste for young women. He is replaced by two boys on their way to visit relatives. Carl (Robert Bray), the bus driver in the movie, primly sleeps on a bench in plain view and promises Grace (Betty Field) that he will "finish his beer" next time. Since he has little to do as this character, he takes on the role of Will, the sheriff of the play, and administers to Bo his well-deserved thumping.

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(Average 6.88)
33 Votes
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