Clint Eastwood’s Best Psychological Thriller Is Now On Netflix

The 1971 thriller Play Misty for Me is streaming on Netflix.

By Mark McKee | Published

Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood in Play Misty for Me (1971)

Be careful who you go home with; you never know who they are or what they are capable of; this is the lesson taught in the 1971 thriller Play Misty for Me. On top of starring the Hollywood superstar Clint Eastwood, who up until that point was primarily known for his successful westerns like A Fistful of DollarsA Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, but it is also his directorial debut. This film was a significant departure from his rugged cowboy role, and now you can view the movie on Netflix

Eastwood plays Dave Garver, a radio disc jockey who often incorporates poetry into his shows. One evening after his show he meets Evelyn Draper, a long-time listener and frequent caller whom he recognizes as the person who always requests he plays the song “Misty.” The two have a short and casual relationship before Clint Eastwood’s Garver rejects her. 

Evelyn, played by legendary actress the late Jessica Walter in her film debut, doesn’t take the rejection well and begins to stalk Garver. Her disturbing behavior elevates to her attempting to end her life by slashing her wrists, prompting Garver to continue trying to sever ties with her. Eventually, she breaks completely and murders his housekeeper in his home. 

Of course, this is only the beginning and Clint Eastwood’s directorial debut continues down a treacherous path that explores the depths of human obsession. The film virtually created the femme fatal and fatal attraction tropes for future movies and set up women as more than a damsel in distress but as possible villains. Play Misty for Me brought in a little over $10 million at the box office (a mild success for its time) and garnered Walter a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama for her performance. 

The reviews for Play Misty for Me are largely positive, picking up a score of 84% from critics and 72% from audiences on Rotten Tomatoes. Legendary film critic Roger Ebert said that while the film didn’t reach the same artistic level as Alfred Hitchcock’s work, it successfully put the audience in the palm of its hand and squeezed. The praise for Clint Eastwood also led to his star continuing to rise in Hollywood, both in front of and behind the camera. 

clint eastwood
Donna Mills and Clint Eastwood in Play Misty for Me (1971)

Eastwood has built one of the most iconic and successful careers in all of Hollywood history. As an actor, he led the way in Spaghetti westerns and became the only name that could be uttered in the same sentence as John Wayne in the genre; then, he revamped the action genre by introducing the cop drama with his character in the Dirty Harry franchise. As a director, he became one of only two (the other being Warren Beaty) to be nominated for Best Actor and Best Director by the Academy Awards with Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby

Clint Eastwood has a long filmography of films that have altered the entire landscape of cinema, such a long filmography that some of his best get overlooked. Play Misty for Me is one of the films that gets lost in the crowd of great films. Lucky for us, Netflix is making it easy to go in and remind ourselves just how good he was from the very beginning.