Marilyn Monroe gave one of her stronger performances in Bus Stop, a 1956 romantic comedy. Modern audiences will still be charmed by Marilyn’s turn as a second-rate chanteuse in a saloon, but its storyline is firmly stuck in 1950s values. Her love interest, a naïve cowboy looking for a wife, is a walking caricature, disappeared from modern entertainment. Bus Stop is still an entertaining movie, if one can get past certain dated aspects of the plot.
The entire story revolves around Bo Decker (Don Murray) and his “romantic” pursuit of Marilyn’s character, a saloon singer named Cherie. Cherie is a small-town girl from the Ozarks singing awful renditions of tunes in Phoenix, struggling in her dream of making it to Hollywood. She has worldly experience with men, but is adrift in her life when Bo sees her on stage and falls instantly in love. Bo, a young cowboy from Montana, has come with his mentor, Virgil (Arthur O’Connell), to Phoenix to enter a rodeo championship and win.
Bo is a strapping young man (grown up entirely on a ranch) away from almost all female contact, with little direct knowledge of the world. He relates everything in his newfound experiences to the one thing he does know, the ranching he grew up with. Having practically no experience with women or how to behave around them, Bo decides at the age of 21 he needs a wife for his thriving ranch. He compares snagging a wife to roping a steer and attacks life in the same reckless manner he rides bulls in the rodeo.
Bus Stop‘s dichotomy is built between the worldly experience of Cherie, a sensual woman who has slept with numerous men, and Bo‘s virginal purity as a childish man. Most disconcerting for a modern audience will be when Bo “kidnaps” Cherie and forces her on the bus back to his home. Due to a misunderstanding and Bo‘s ignorance of normal courtship, Bo believes that Cherie has agreed to marry him. This critical plot point is played for laughs and is definitely the biggest anachronism present in Bus Stop. Marilyn’s character is quite passive against Bo’s aggression, practically unheard of in today’s films for a female character.
No one will confuse Bus Stop with a modern romantic comedy, made decades before Feminism became a cultural touchstone. Bo’s childishness proves annoying, and his romantic pursuit of Cherie is unrealistic, at best. Monroe steals the show with her talents, projecting vulnerability lacking in other Hollywood actresses of her day. Plotting is creative but wildly out of step for today’s times. If one can look past that failing, Bus Stop is a funny and energetic comedy which also stars a very sexy Marilyn Monroe at the peak of her powers.
Bus Stop on Blu-ray is an fine example of the superior color rendition possible on the format and its replication of the original filmic texture. 20th Century Fox has once again given a classic Cinemascope film new life with a very pleasing transfer. In their ongoing commitment to excellence, Bus Stop has received a superior high bitrate video encode on a BD-50 which could not be improved.
The 94-minute main feature averages a robust 32.19 Mbps in a strong AVC video encode, retaining attributes one associates with Cinemascope movies of the period. Framed in a wide 2.55:1 aspect ratio, Bus Stop is a film that would have been considered eye candy in its day. The camera always seemed to love Marilyn Monroe and Bus Stop is no exception, as most of the cinematography was constructed around the actress, showing off her considerable talents.
The transfer looks to be a fairly recent optical harvest of the negative, displaying virtually no significant print debris and containing excellent detail. While not a Technicolor film, Bus Stop has a rich color palette that has been left unmanipulated in the new transfer. A touch of occasional ringing pops up in the first reel, but it does not hurt visible film-like texture.
If not for occasional bouts of softness inherent to the original cinematography, Bus Stop would have earned a perfect score in this category. Marilyn’s fans should have no complaints about the quality preserved here.
Considering Bus Stop was produced in 1956, the primary 4.0 DTS-HD MA soundtrack has a stunning presentation. Bus Stop was originally a 4-Track stereo recording, a discrete mix format which included a surround channel in monaural sound. 20th Century Fox has included it in an extremely faithful reproduction with excellent fidelity. A majority of the movie’s soundstage still occurs in the front three channels, though the surrounds occasionally fill with limited amounts of musical support and light ambience. Dialogue is clean throughout the movie and the score, partially by noted composer Alfred Newman, acts as a complement to the zany action.
Fox has included a wealth of subtitles and dubs on Bus Stop. The following dubs are included: French DTS 4.0, German DTS 4.0, Japanese DTS 4.0, Turkish Dolby Digital 2.0 surround, Thai Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 mono, Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 mono.
The following optional subtitles are presented in a white font, inside the 2.55:1 framing of the movie: English (SDH), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish.
All that Fox could dig up for Bus Stop is a vintage trailer and several other trailers for films starring Marilyn Monroe.
Original Theatrical Trailer (02:25 in 480i)
Marilyn Monroe Movie Trailers (various times in 480i): Niagara, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, River of No Return, The Seven-Year Itch and Irving Berlin’s There’s No Business Like Show Business.
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