Bus Stop ~ (1982) ~ HBO-TV ~ Margot Kidder, Tim Matheson, Joyce Van Patten, Claude Akins, Pat Hingle, Marilyn Jones, Barry Corbin
Rare! This title has not seen the light of day in years. It's so wonderful to have these old captures to view so many years later. Nowadays, PBS shows a lot of these great new productions.
Starring: Margot Kidder (Cherie), Tim Matheson (Bo Decker), Joyce Van Patten (Grace), Marilyn Jones (Elma Duckworth), Pat Hingle (Dr. Gerald Lyman), Claude Akins (Sheriff Will), and Barry Corbin (Virgil 'Virge' Blessing). Written by William Inge .
William Inge's comedy, Bus Stop , is filled with sentimental characters and a slow-but-pleasant, slice-of-life storyline. Although dated, Bus Stop manages to charm its modern audience, if only due to our inherent longing for a simpler, more innocent past.
Most of William Inge's plays are a mixture of comedy and drama. Bus Stop is no different. It premiered on Broadway in 1955, just on the heels of Inge's first Broadway success, Picnic .
In 1956, Bus Stop was brought to the silver screen, starring Marilyn Monroe in the role of Cherie.
Bus Stop takes place inside "a street-corner restaurant in a small Kansas town about thirty miles west of Kansas City." Due to icy conditions, an inter-state bus is forced to stop for the night. One by one, the bus passengers are introduced, each with their own quirks and conflicts.
The Romantic Leads:
Bo Decker ( Tim Matheson ) is a young ranch-owner from Montana. He has just fallen head-over-heels for a nightclub singer named Cherie ( Margot Kidder ).
In fact, he has fallen so wildly in love with her (mainly because he just lost his virginity), he has whisked her onto a bus with the assumption that the young lady will marry him.
Cherie, on the other hand, is not exactly going along for the ride. Once she arrives at the bus stop, she informs the local sheriff, Will Masters ( Claude Akins ), that she is being held against her will. What unfolds during the course of the evening is Bo's macho attempt at luring her into marriage, followed by a humbling fist-fight with the sheriff. Once he is put in his place, he begins to see things, especially Cherie, differently.
Virgil Blessing ( Barry Corbin ), Bo's best friend and father-figure, is the wisest and kindest of the bus passengers. Throughout the play, he tries to educate Bo on the ways of women and the "civilized" world outside of Montana.
Dr. Gerald Lyman ( Pat Hingle ) is a retired college professor. While at the bus stop cafe, he enjoys reciting poetry, flirting with the teen-age waitress - Elma Duckworth ( Marilyn Jones ), and steadily increasing his blood-alcohol levels.
Grace ( Joyce Van Patten ) is the owner of the little restaurant. She is set in her ways, having gotten used to being alone. She is friendly, but not trusting. Grace doesn't get too attached to people, making the bus stop an ideal setting for her. In a revealing and amusing scene, Grace explains why she never serves sandwiches with cheese:
GRACE: I guess I'm kinda self-centered, Will. I don't care for cheese m'self, so I never think t'order it for someone else.
The young waitress, Elma, ( Marilyn Jones ) is the antithesis of Grace. Elma represents youth and naivete. She lends a sympathetic ear to the misbegotten characters, especially the old professor.
In the final act, it is revealed that Kansas City authorities have chased Dr. Lyman out of town. Why? Because he keeps making advances on high-school girls. When Grace explains that "old fogies like him can't leave young girls alone," Elma is flattered instead of disgusted. This spot is one of many in which Bus Stop shows its wrinkles. Lyman's desire for Elma is shaded in sentimental tones, whereas a modern playwright would probably handle the professor's deviant nature in a much more serious manner.
In the middle of a howling snowstorm, a bus out of Kansas City pulls up at a cheerful roadside diner. All roads are blocked, and four or five weary travelers are going to have to hole up until morning.
Cherie, a nightclub chanteuse in a sparkling gown and a seedy fur-trimmed jacket, is the passenger with most to worry about.
She's been pursued, made love to and finally kidnapped by a twenty-one-year-old cowboy with a ranch of his own and the romantic methods of an unusually headstrong bull. The belligerent cowhand is right behind her, ready to sling her over his shoulder and carry her, alive and kicking, all the way to Montana.
Even as she's ducking out from under his clumsy but confident embraces, and screeching at him fiercely to shut him up, she pauses to furrow her forehead and muse, "Somehow deep inside of me I got a funny feeling I'm gonna end up in Montana …"
As a counterpoint to the main romance, the proprietor of the cafe and the bus driver at last find time to develop a friendship of their own; a middle-age scholar comes to terms with himself; and a young girl who works in the cafe also gets her first taste of romance.
"Mr. Inge has put together an uproarious comedy that never strays from the truth. —NY Times. "William Inge should be a great comfort to all of us…he brings to the theatre a kind of warm-hearted compassion, creative vigor, freshness of approach and appreciation of average humanity that can be wonderfully touching and stimulating." —NY Post.
Flmed for HBO before an audience as it was presented at the Claremont Theater in California, directed by Peter Hunt . (A)
Run time: 105m
B&W / Color: Color