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Bus Stop (1956 film)

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Bus Stop
Theatrical release poster by Tom Chantrell
Directed byJoshua Logan
Screenplay byGeorge Axelrod
Based onBus Stop
by William Inge
Produced byBuddy Adler
CinematographyMilton Krasner
Edited byWilliam Reynolds
Music by
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • August 31, 1956 (1956-08-31) (United States)
Running time
96 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$2.2 million[1]
Box office$7.27 million[2]

Bus Stop is a 1956 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Joshua Logan for 20th Century Fox, starring Marilyn Monroe, Don Murray, Arthur O'Connell, Betty Field, Eileen Heckart, Robert Bray, and Hope Lange.

Unlike most of Monroe's films, Bus Stop is neither a full-fledged comedy nor a musical, but rather a dramatic piece; it was the first film she appeared in after studying at the Actors Studio in New York. Monroe does, however, sing one song: "That Old Black Magic" by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer.

Bus Stop is based on the 1955 play of the same name (which in turn was expanded from an earlier, one-act play titled People in the Wind) by William Inge.[3] The inspiration for the play came from people Inge met in Tonganoxie, Kansas.[4]



A naive, unintelligent, socially inept, loud-mouth cowboy, Beauregard "Bo" Decker, and his friend and father-figure Virgil Blessing take the bus from Timber Hill, Montana, to Phoenix, Arizona, to participate in a rodeo. Virgil has encouraged the 21-year-old virgin Bo to take an interest in women. Initially reluctant and frightened of the idea, Beau declares that he hopes to find an "angel" and will know her when he sees her. Making trouble everywhere they go, he continues his unsophisticated behavior in Grace's Diner. In Phoenix, at the Blue Dragon Café, he imagines himself in love with the café's chanteuse, Chérie, an ambitious performer from the Ozarks with aspirations of becoming a Hollywood star. Her rendition of "That Old Black Magic" entrances him and he forces her outside, despite the establishment's rules against it, kisses her and thinks that means they are engaged. Chérie is physically attracted to him but resists his plans to take her back to Montana. She has no intention of marrying him and tells him so, but he is too stubborn to listen.

Drive-in advertisement from 1956

The next day, Bo obtains a marriage license, and then takes an exhausted Chérie to the rodeo parade and the rodeo, where he rides the bucking bronco and then competes in the calf-roping and the bull-riding. Bo intends to marry Chérie at the rodeo, but she runs away. He tracks her down at the Blue Dragon Café, where she jumps out a rear window and flees. Bo catches her and forces her onto the bus back to Montana. On the way, they stop at Grace's Diner, the same place the bus stopped on the way to Phoenix. Chérie tries to make another getaway while Bo is asleep on the bus, but the road ahead is blocked by a blizzard, leaving the passengers stranded in the diner. The bus driver, Carl, the waitress, Elma, and the café owner, Grace, by now all have learned that Bo is kidnapping and bullying Chérie. Virgil and Carl fight him until he promises to apologize to Chérie and leave her alone. He, however, is unable to do so because he is humiliated about having been beaten.

The next morning, the storm has cleared and everybody is free to go. Bo finally apologizes to Chérie for his abusive behavior and begs her forgiveness. He wishes her well and prepares to depart without her. Chérie approaches him and confesses that she has had many boyfriends and is not the kind of woman he thinks she is. Bo confesses his lack of experience to her. Bo asks to kiss her goodbye and they share their first real kiss. All Chérie wanted from a man was respect, which she had previously told Elma when they sat together on the bus. This new Bo attracts Chérie. He accepts her past and this gesture touches her heart. She tells him that she will go anywhere with him. Virgil decides to stay behind. When Bo tries to coerce him to go with them, Chérie reminds him that he cannot force Virgil to do what he wants. Having finally apparently learned his lesson, Bo offers Chérie his jacket and gallantly helps her onto the bus.


From left to right: Eileen Heckart, Marilyn Monroe and Don Murray



Bus Stop was the first film that Monroe chose to make under a new contract. For the role, she learned an Ozark accent, chose costumes and make-up that lacked the glamour of her earlier films, and provided deliberately mediocre singing and dancing.[5] Joshua Logan, known for his work on Broadway, agreed to direct, despite initially doubting Monroe's acting abilities and knowing of her reputation for being difficult.[6] Filming took place in Sun Valley, Idaho, and Phoenix, Arizona,[7] in early 1956, with Monroe "technically in charge" as the head of MMP (Marilyn Monroe Productions, her film production company), occasionally making decisions on cinematography and with Logan adapting to her chronic tardiness and perfectionism.[8]

The experience changed Logan's opinion of Monroe, and he later compared her to Charlie Chaplin in her ability to blend comedy and tragedy.[9]

George Axelrod, who wrote the script, later said:

I liked that very much. And I think even William Inge now concedes it is at least as good as the play. Because, given the necessities of the stage, he had to cram it all into that one set, whereas it was a play very susceptible to being opened up. It took Marilyn two years to realise that this was her best performance. Indeed, she did not speak to either Josh Logan or me for a year afterwards, because she felt we'd cut the picture in favour of the boy. Later she came to realise she was wrong. It suggests to me that actors have a very dim appreciation of what's good or what's bad about their performances.[10]



Bus Stop became a box office success, earning more than $7 million in distributor rentals, and received mainly favorable reviews,[11] with Monroe's performance being highly praised. The Saturday Review of Literature wrote that Monroe's performance "effectively dispels once and for all the notion that she is merely a glamour personality".[12] Bosley Crowther of The New York Times praised the lead performances, as well as O'Connell, Eckart, Field and Bray.[13]

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 80% based on 15 reviews, with an average rating of 7.3/10.[14]


Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Academy Awards Best Supporting Actor Don Murray Nominated [15]
British Academy Film Awards Most Promising Newcomer to Film Nominated [16]
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Joshua Logan Nominated [17]
Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Nominated [18]
Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Marilyn Monroe Nominated
Laurel Awards Top Female Comedy Performance Nominated
Top Female Supporting Performance Betty Field 4th Place
National Board of Review Awards Top Ten Films 10th Place [19]
Venice Film Festival Golden Lion Joshua Logan Nominated [20]
Writers Guild of America Awards Best Written American Comedy George Axelrod Nominated [21]

See also



  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey (1989). Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 250. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1.
  2. ^ "The Top Box-Office Hits of 1956". Variety Weekly. January 2, 1957.
  3. ^ "William Inge Collection". William Inge Center for the Arts.
  4. ^ Moore, Christopher. "William Inge's Broadway Demons". Broadway.tv. Archived from the original on October 3, 2011.
  5. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 352–357.
  6. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 352–354.
  7. ^ "Bus Stop (1956)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved February 18, 2024.
  8. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 354–358, for location and time; Banner 2012, p. 297, 310.
  9. ^ Banner 2012, p. 254.
  10. ^ Milne, Tom (Autumn 1968). "The Difference of George Axelrod". Sight and Sound. Vol. 37, no. 4. p. 166.
  11. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 358–359; Churchwell 2004, p. 69.
  12. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 358.
  13. ^ Crowther, Bosley (September 1, 1956). "The Screen: Marilyn Monroe Arrives; Glitters as Floozie in 'Bus Stop' at Roxy Stork Over Britain Tasteless Melodrama". The New York Times. Retrieved September 23, 2018.
  14. ^ "Bus Stop (1956)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 18, 2024.
  15. ^ "The 29th Academy Awards (1957) Nominees and Winners". Academy Awards. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
  16. ^ "BAFTA Awards: Film in 1957". BAFTA. 1957. Retrieved June 3, 2021.
  17. ^ "9th DGA Awards". Directors Guild of America Awards. Retrieved June 3, 2021.
  18. ^ "Bus Stop – Golden Globes". Golden Globe Awards. Retrieved June 3, 2021.
  19. ^ "1956 Award Winners". National Board of Review. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  20. ^ "17. Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica di Venezia" (in Italian). Venice Biennale. Archived from the original on August 20, 2020. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  21. ^ "Awards Winners". Writers Guild of America. Archived from the original on December 5, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2010.