Bus Stop – Review (Spoiler Free)

Bus Stop PosterBus Stop is, I think, the only time I have watched a Marilyn Monroe film and for at least some of its duration forgotten that I’m watching Marilyn Monroe. That’s not a criticism of her acting in general (I’m a pretty big fan), but there’s some combination here between her losing her trademark breathy voice for a  ‘hillbilly’ accent, and being dressed down in clothes that are a long way away from her usual dresses, that helps cloak the usual Marilyn feel within her performance.

Monroe plays Cherie, a bad singer in a small cowboy bar. She is attempting to make her way to Hollywood in the search of a better life, somewhere were she will be respected and even admired. Don Murray plays the inexperienced young cowboy who encounters Cherie when he comes to town for the rodeo. He knows absolutely nothing about women, believing that they should be pursued and broken like the bulls and horses that he is so used to dealing with. The film’s set up could suggest a light comedy about gender roles etc, the kind that Monroe often appears in, and whilst there is certainly an element of that to the film, Bus Stop is one of the rare Monroe films in that it is first and foremost a drama.

Don Murray does well in his first film role, he gives a decent performance as the ignorant cowboy, but the star of this film is easily Marilyn. There’s a strong case to be made for this being her best performance. I don’t think that it is, but it’s certainly amongst her greatest. She gives us a character that’s well rounded, complex, and nuanced. In fact if I was going to suggest a film to answer that, frankly rather boring question of whether Monroe could act or not, this would be my best example for you. I may prefer her in The Misfits and Some Like it Hot, but this is the most easily recognisable performance that’s not ‘just Marilyn playing herself’.

The film’s script is fairly simplistic, the direction isn’t particularly notable, and yet this film comes recommended by me. It’s essential for any Monroe fan, and goes beyond being purely a curiosity piece for others. It’s a nice, funny little film, and although it is rooted in some rather dated gender roles, it still manages to entertain today.


  1. I found Don Murray’s character annoying, but I guess that was the point. Marilyn Monroe pretty much made this film. With any lesser actress, the film would have been plain bad, but Marilyn’s fantastic performance made it worthwhile.
    I consider The Seven Year Itch to contain Monroe’s best performance. But her performances in Bus Stop/Some Like It Hot/Gentlemen Prefer Blondes/Don’t Bother To Knock/The Misfits are on par for second best.
    Great review. I do agree with dated gender roles (grating at times).

    1. Cheers 🙂
      Yeah Don Murray does a good job of playing a irritating, boisterous, and slightly thick headed cowboy! Completely agree that it’s Marilyn that makes this film worth watching.
      I’ve finally got The Seven Year Itch heading my way in the post, and so I’ll soon watch it. I agree that the others you mention all rank highly amongst her performances.

  2. Natalie P · · Reply

    Interesting review 🙂 . Do you think any of her films don’t have dated gender roles?

    1. Thanks Natalie 🙂
      It’s hard to say really. There aren’t any that immediately spring to mind, although of course some roles are far more dated than others. Her dumb gold-digger blonde character for example.

  3. I just saw Monroe in her first ever big screen role in All About Eve. Nice to hear in this one it’s not ‘just Marilyn playing herself’ as she was playing a ditzy blond in her first film.

    1. Yeah it’s a shame that she is given so few opportunities within her films to break out of that role. Not that she wasn’t good at it, she’s brilliant in Some Like it Hot for example, but she had a lot of talent which wasn’t ever fully explored.

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