TV Diner: Watching Bus Stop (for Parterre Box)

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Cameron Kelsall: Bus Stop may have the greatest name recognition of William Inge’s major works, largely due to the movie starring Marilyn Monroe at her most ravishing. It’s a solid treatment, and Monroe is largely effective, but the Josh Logan-directed adaptation veers pretty far from the play itself. A more faithful filmed version can be found in a 1982 HBO special, captured before a live audience, featuring a particularly of-the-moment cast: Margot Kidder, Tim Matheson, Joyce Van Patten, Pat Hingle, Barry Corbin and Claude Akins, under the direction of Peter Hunt.

David Fox: I routinely teach the movie, which I think has many virtues, including what may well be Monroe’s greatest performance (and I say this as an admirer—I think she was an extraordinary film actor). This was my first exposure to Inge’s own script, and the differences are striking. One very significant character in the play—Dr. Lyman—is completely omitted in the movie, and with him go several major themes, including a pretty powerful evocation of creepy sexual lust. The secondary female role of Elma is more prominent in the play, and of course, it all takes place inside the diner. (One tagline in promoting the film had been to ballyhoo “two natural wonders of the world: the Rockies, and Marilyn Monroe!”) All of this is to say that this TV version is a valuable document to the canon of classic American drama…

Read the full post at Parterre Box.

Categories: Criticism, PARTERRE BOX, Theater

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