The fiftieth anniversary of Clint Eastwood's directorial debut is right around the corner. Play Misty for Me was released in 1971.
Eastwood had been acting for fifteen years, and had already played his iconic cowboy in A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good the Bad and the Ugly, as well as Harry Callahan in Dirty Harry. Yet he cast himself as an exceptionally vulnerable character, a D. J. at a jazz station who is manipulated by an obsessive fan.
In the role of the fan, Jessica Walter left an indelible image as a homicidal maniac. Recently she left an equally indelible image as a boozey matriarch on Arrested Developement. In between, she performed constantly in film, television and theater, and is still performing.
Eastwood's debut as a director was successful partly because of his informal apprenticeship with Don Siegel for whom he acted. Also, the scenes of violence owe a lot to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho released in 1960. We see a shadowy figure with a knife; we see the knife flashing through the air; the shadowy figures dashes away; the victim discovers a wound.
Some sequences such as close ups on the eyes are asked to carry too much and the lyrical love interlude goes on too long, but Play Misty for Me is still an effective psychological thriller.