Bus Riley's Back in Town

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Bus Riley's Back in Town
Directed by Harvey Hart
Produced by Elliott Kastner
Written by William Inge credited as Walter Gage
Starring Ann-Margret
Michael Parks
Janet Margolin
Brad Dexter
Kim Darby
Jocelyn Brando
Larry Storch
Music by Richard Markowitz
Cinematography Russell Metty
Edited by Folmar Blangsted
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • April 7, 1965 (1965-04-07)
Running time
93 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Bus Riley's Back in Town is a 1965 film written by William Inge, directed by Harvey Hart, and starring Ann-Margret and Michael Parks.

Inge, who had been one of America's top playwrights and screenwriters since the early 1950s, was very unhappy with changes made to his script, apparently to highlight Ann-Margret's character. He had his name removed from the credits, replacing it with the name "Walter Gage." It turned out to be the last of Inge's works brought to the screen during his lifetime.

Though Ann-Margret was the film's best-known cast member, trailers for "Bus Riley" heavily promoted Parks as Hollywood's next big star. However, the movie had only modest success, and did little for Parks' career.


A man returns to his small Midwestern hometown after three years in the Navy and begins trying to make a life for himself, moving in with his mother and sister. He suffers a series of personal and career disappointments.

Riley discovers that an older male friend who has promised him a mechanic's job wants a live-in sexual relationship as part of the bargain. A disillusioned Riley walks out. (This gay proposition, unmistakable though not explicit, was rare for its time. The man seeking sex is portrayed not as predatory but as desperate and pathetic, like many lonely small-town people in Inge's plays.)

To compound his unhappiness, Riley learns that his beautiful but shallow girlfriend Laurel has married a wealthy man in his absence. She is willing to rekindle her affair with Riley, however, and he gets involved with her against his conscience and better judgment.

Judy, a friend who loses her mother in a fire, then moves in with the Rileys, leading to a romance with Riley. Torn between Laurel and Judy, he must also try to find a way to make a living without compromising his principles



The production started as a one-act play by Inge. It was produced at Pennsylvania State University in 1958, and he then set about expanding it.

In 1962, he said, "Right now it's in a formless stage, half movie, half play. I intend to make it into a play. It's about a success symbol of today - a young movie actor returning to his home town. It deals with some of the forces in his life that compelled his drive for success and that made success a necessity for his survival. It is not based on any particular person. It's more of a composite portrait."[1]

It was originally known as All Kinds of People.[2]

Michael Parks was cast off the back of his work in Daffy.[3]


Bruce Springsteen's video for "I'm on Fire" contains a homage to Bus Riley's Back in Town, with a young woman shown dropping off car keys to a young man working under a vehicle.


  1. ^ NEWS OF THF RIALTO: INGE'S PLANS: EXCERPT By MILTON ESTEROW. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 17 June 1962: 85.
  2. ^ Pal Will Go Ahead on 'Disappearance': 'All Kinds of People' Inge's; Don't Shoot the Projectionist Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 05 Dec 1963: C13.
  3. ^ Looking at Hollywood: Paula Prentiss Lands Big Film Role Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 16 Mar 1964: b3.

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