We watched Play Misty for Me last night, which was a 1971 thriller directed by and starring Clint Eastwood. Jessica Walter also starred and did a good job, I thought, playing the villain.
The book reminds me a bit of Stephen King’s Misery, which came out sixteen years later as well as of course the famous Hitchcock movie Psycho. Also, Misty later came out as a novel in 1982 by Paul J. Gillette.
We both thought the movie was pretty solid and enjoyed it.
After watching the film, I began thinking about using films as writing prompts for short fiction. There are a lot of directions one could go doing this. Here are a few ideas:
- The film (and Walter of course) did a great job foreshadowing the insanity that would come later in the movie. I wonder how it might be to rewrite things so the villain is justified in feeling how she does and in her actions? Maybe take another character and change their perspective or circumstances so that the reader is encouraged to have a different take on the character than in the film.
- Write a story along similar lines but with a completely different ending. There are tons of movies and books that are similar to this one; there is always room to take a common theme and make it into a story of your own.
- Find a scene in the movie and write a totally original story using that scene as your mental springboard.
- Pair a character and an object that are in the film but have little to do with each other and write a story based on that.
- Write a similar story to the movie but in a different genre or perhaps mix multiple genres together. I wonder how Play Misty for Me would work as a romantic comedy (remember Serial Mom?) or maybe a steampunk western? How about on a malfunctioning space station under attack by a coalition of aliens and humans?
Finally, a couple of interesting facts from the Wiki page about the film:
- In Keeping Up Appearances, Rose asks Emmett to “play Misty for me” while being dragged out of the church while under the influence of tranquilizers.
- In Clint Eastwood’s film Dirty Harry, a cinema marquee that clearly shows the title of Play Misty for Me is visible at the very beginning of the film as Insp. Detective Harry Callahan is on his lunch break prior to the bank robbery which opens the movie.