Bus Stop (1956 film)

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Bus Stop
Bus Stop Film Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Tom Chantrell
Directed byJoshua Logan
Screenplay byGeorge Axelrod
William Inge (play)
Produced byBuddy Adler
StarringMarilyn Monroe
Don Murray
Arthur O'Connell
Betty Field
Eileen Heckart
CinematographyMilton R. Krasner
Edited byWilliam Reynolds
Music byKen Darby
Cyril J. Mockridge
Alfred Newman
Lionel Newman
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 was based on the 1955 play of the same title (which in turn was expanded from an earlier, one act play People in the Wind) by William Inge.[3] The inspiration for the play came from people Inge met in Tonganoxie, Kansas.[4]

In the 1961–62 season, ABC adapted the play and film into a television series of the same name starring Marilyn Maxwell as the owner of the bus station and diner. In the episode "Cherie", which most closely follows the plot of the film, Tuesday Weld performed the role of Marilyn Monroe and Gary Lockwood appeared as the Don Murray character.


A naive, rambunctious, overly enthusiastic and socially inept cowboy, Beauregard 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, Beau, to take an interest in "girls". 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 Cafe, he imagines himself in love with the café's singer, 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.

The next day, Beau gets 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. Beau intends to marry Chérie at the rodeo, but she runs away. He tracks her down at the Cafe, where she jumps out a rear window and flees. Beau catches her, and forces her on 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 Beau is asleep on the bus, but the road ahead is blocked by snow and the bus won't be leaving at all. They are all stranded there. The bus driver Carl, the waitress Elma, and the café owner Grace by now all have learned that Beau is kidnapping and bullying the girl. Virgil and the bus driver 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. Beau 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's had many boyfriends and is not the kind of woman he thinks she is. Beau confesses his lack of experience to her. Beau 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 the waitress when they sat together on the bus. This new Beau 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 Beau tries to coerce him to go with them, Chérie reminds him that he can't force Virgil to do what he wants. Having finally apparently learned his lesson, Beau offers Chérie his jacket and gallantly helps her onto the bus.



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] The filming took place in Idaho and 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]

Critical reception[edit]

Bus Stop became a box office success, grossing $4.25 million, and received mainly favorable reviews,[10] 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".[11] Bosley Crowther of The New York Times praised the lead performances, as well as O'Connell, Eckart, Field and Bray.[12]

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 79% based on 14 reviews and an average score of 7.3/10.[13]


Date of ceremony Award Category Nominees Result
1957 British Academy Film Awards Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles Don Murray Nominated
February 3, 1957 Directors Guild of America Award Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Joshua Logan Nominated
February 28, 1957 Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Bus Stop Nominated
Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical Marilyn Monroe Nominated
March 27, 1957 Academy Awards Best Supporting Actor Don Murray Nominated

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p. 250
  2. ^ 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1956', Variety Weekly, January 2, 1957
  3. ^ http://ingecenter.org/william-inge-collection/
  4. ^ www.broadway.tv article, "William Inge’s Broadway Demons" Archived 2011-10-03 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 352–357.
  6. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 352–354.
  7. ^ IMDb.com – Bus Stop – filming locations accessed 2008-04-28
  8. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 354–358, for location and time; Banner 2012, p. 297, 310.
  9. ^ Banner 2012, p. 254.
  10. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 358–359; Churchwell 2004, p. 69.
  11. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 358.
  12. ^ Crowther, Bosley (1 September 1956). "The Screen: Marilyn Monroe Arrives; Glitters as Floozie in 'Bus Stop' at Roxy Stork Over Britain Tasteless Melodrama". Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  13. ^ "Bus Stop (1956)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2021-01-01.


External links[edit]