Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Bus Stop (1956)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Bus Stop (1956)

In Joshua Logan's romantic comedy adapted by George Axelrod from a play by William Inge:

  • the film opened on a ranch in Timber Hill, Montana, where naive and virginal 21 year-old cowboy Beauregard 'Bo' Decker (Don Murray) and his father figure Virgil Blessing (Arthur O'Connell) were introduced. Bo was counseled by Virgil to find a wife: "Bo, you're 21 years old and we're on our way to a big city, Phoenix, Arizona. It's time you met up with a gal." It would be Bo's first time off the ranch. They were on their way to the Phoenix area for a rodeo, where he was going to compete in calf-roping and bull-riding events.
  • on the bus, cowhand Bo declared his intentions to marry an angel: "But if I do find me a gal, it ain't gonna be one of them gals from all those magazines. I already decided. I'm gonna get me a angel." Virgil suggested he set his sights lower: "You just figure on pickin' out some plain-lookin' little ol' gal, with a cooperatin' nature and a good personality. I mean, we gotta be realistic." But Bo was persistent and stubborn about what he wanted: "I'm gonna find me a real hootenanny of an angel! She gives me any trouble, she's gonna find herself with them little old wings just pinned right to the ground!"

Virgil and Bo On the Bus to Phoenix

Bo to Compete at The Rodeo Grounds in Phoenix
  • during a brief restaurant stop at Grace's Diner, the uncouth, troublemaking Bo ordered three raw hamburgers and drank an entire quart bottle of milk with one gulp. As they were leaving Virgil had to apologize to the owner Grace (Betty Field) after Bo insulted the establishment: "We're never gonna make Phoenix sittin' around this broken-down, miserable restaurant." One of the diner waitresses, Elma Duckworth (Hope Lange), also boarded the bus to travel to Phoenix to visit her sister.
  • the first view of the film's star (Marilyn Monroe) was in an open window at the run-down, honky-tonk nightclub known as the Blue Dragon Cafe - the dim-witted, wanna-be saloon singer (or chanteuse - pronounced "chantooze") Cherie (pronounced Cherry, meaning "dear one") was fanning herself to keep cool. Her enraged boss pulled her inside her dressing room and called her "an ignorant hillbilly" for lazing about, and for being late for her shift. She was from the Ozarks in River Gulch, Arkansas, and claimed to her friend - cafe waitress Vera (Eileen Heckart) that she was bound for Hollywood ("Look where I'm goin'...Hollywood and Vine") where she hoped to "get discovered. You get tested, with options and everything! And you get treated with a little respect, too".
  • in the cafe/club floorshow, Cherie sang an off-key, inept, but innocently sensual rendition of "That Old Black Magic." Once Bo arrived and saw Cherie performing, he confidently confirmed: "That's her, Virge....That's my angel." Upset that she wasn't being treated respectfully by the audience, he stood on a table and shushed the patrons ("Can't you see the little lady's tryin' to sing?"). At the end of the number, she turned a red spotlight on herself to look "aflame."
Cherie (Marilyn Monroe Singing in a Night-Club
"That Old Black Magic"
  • after Bo saw her perform, the love-struck, stubborn Bo introduced himself - and tried to win her over with a memorized speech describing his intention to find an "angel" to marry. He forcefully demanded that she join him outside:

    "My name is Beauregard Decker, ma'am. I'm 21 years old and I own my own ranch up in Timber Hill, Montana, where I got a fine herd of Hereford cattle, a dozen horses, and the finest sheep and hogs and chickens in the country. Now, I come down for the rodeo tomorrow with the idea in mind of findin' me an angel, and you're it. Now, I don't have a whole lot of time for sweet talkin' around the bush, so I'd be much obliged to you if you'd just step outside with me into the fresh air."

  • she politely declined his invitation: "We're not allowed to go out with the customers, but you could buy me a drink if you wanted. I'm so dry I'm spittin' cotton." They became acquainted in the alleyway, where she thanked him for quieting the audience: "It was real nice the way you made everybody shut up in there, like you had respect for me." He was thrilled when she said she was physically attracted to him: "You're so big and strong and, well, so darn healthy-lookin'." He immediately imagined or assumed that they were engaged after kissing her, and that they would be married at the rodeo the next day.

    [Note: The passionate kissing scene between Bo and Cherie had to be reshot after major filming had ended - it was common knowledge that censors routinely cut love scenes in films with open-mouthed kisses.]

  • Bo bragged to Virgil: "We're engaged...We'll get married out there!..At the rodeo....I know she's my angel. That's good enough for me." He disregarded her objections about all of his far-fetched proposals, or Virgil's complaint that she had hustled him for drinks.

Waking Up an Exhausted Cherie in Her Bed

'Bo' Reciting the Gettysburg Address
  • the next day early in the morning, Bo, who thought it was their wedding day, woke up an exhausted Cherie in her boardinghouse bedroom - apparently, she was naked beneath her sheets - and she immediately rejected him: "I have no intention in the world of marryin' you." To impress her with his mind, he cluelessly recited or quoted the Gettysburg Address as she was lying in bed. She tried to interject: "I hate parades. I'm not goin'." They were interrupted by the landlady (Helen Mayon) entering through the door with an announcement: "If you go any further, Mr. Lincoln, you're gonna miss the parade."
  • during the rodeo while she watched the bronc-riding competition, Cherie told her friend Vera about Bo buying them a marriage license: "This mornin' after the parade, he dragged me down to the city hall and bought us a marriage license" - and she admitted she signed it: "Well, I had to do somethin'. He was makin' such a fuss in front of all those people." She also showed off an engagement ring he had bought for her. When she realized Bo had planned for a wedding at the rodeo, she fled with Vera
  • back at the boarding house as she evaded Bo, she told Vera: "If I'm not careful, I'm gonna end up in East No Place, Montana, with nothin' but him and a bunch of cows." However, Bo was still persistent, telling Virgil: "I'm gonna find her and I'm gonna marry her, and that's all there is to it." When the rodeo ended (and Bo had won $4,000 for winning almost every event), he announced that he had bought three tickets back to Montana - including one for Cherie. Trying to flee from him, Cherie told Bo point-blank that she couldn't marry him: "I just can't lie to you and I can't marry ya, and I ain't goin' to Montana with you. And good-bye forever."
  • and then, she became angered when he grabbed her costume's tail and tore it off - she hysterically screamed at him: "You ain't got the manners they give a monkey! I hate you! And I despise you! And give me back my tail!" Vera assisted Cherie in escaping out the back dressing room window, with her suitcase and heading for the bus depot (bound for Los Angeles).
  • instead, Bo literally roped her and dragged her onto his bus to Helena, Montana. During the trip, Cherie conversed with fellow bus traveler Elma Duckworth, the waitress from Grace's Diner who was returning home, confessing that she had been "abducted." Virgil offered advice to Bo about the alleged kidnapping: "There are some gals who don't like to be pushed and grabbed and lassoed and drug into buses in the middle of the night."
  • Cherie spoke about her beliefs concerning love and the kind of man she was looking for: "I don't know why I keep expecting myself to fall in love, but I do. Well, I know I expect to someday. I'm seriously beginning to wonder if there's the kind of love I have in mind....Maybe I don't know what love is. I want a guy I can look up to, and admire. But I don't want him to browbeat me. I want a guy who'll be sweet with me, but I don't want him to baby me either. I just gotta feel that whoever I marry has some real regard for me aside from all that loving stuff. You know what I mean?"
  • the bus became stranded due to a snowstorm, and the passengers had to seek shelter inside Grace's Diner. It was common knowledge that Bo was bullying and harrassing Cherie after kidnapping her, and the "bull-headed" Bo was still stubbornly determined to have Cherie: "Cherry, I'm tellin' you, you're gonna marry me, and I ain't gonna discuss it no more!" Virgil accused Bo of not just fighting for what he wanted, but for being a bully: "There's a big difference between a fighter and a bully, Bo." Both Virgil and the bus driver Carl (Robert Bray) physically fought against Bo outside the diner and he was "whipped" and subdued - they forced him to promise to apologize to everyone in the place, including Cherie, and to "quit(s) molestin' that poor little girl."
  • finally, Bo apologized to everyone for the fight, but was hesitant to speak to Cherie ("I can't face up to her. She's seen me get beat"). However, he humbly asked for her forgiveness: "Cherry, it wasn't right of me to do what I did to you, treatin' you that way, draggin' you on the bus, and tryin' to make you marry me whether you wanted to or not. Do you think you can ever forgive me?"
  • Bo was prepared to depart without her, but Cherie came up to him to admit she was more "wicked" than he was led to believe, because she had a lot of boyfriends in her past: "I ain't the kind of gal you thought I was at all." Bo also admitted his inexperience with women: "You are the first gal that I ever had anything to do with." As the bus was ready to leave, Bo and Cherie shared a good-bye kiss.
  • Cherie began to realize that Bo was a man who could show her respect when he again professed his sincere love to Cherie. He asserted that he loved her just the way she was, even though she had many other previous boyfriends: "Well, I've been thinkin' about them other fellas, Cherry. And well, what I mean is, I like you the way you are, so what do I care how you got that way?" She gave a heartwarming, kind reply when touched by his sweetness: "Bo, that's the sweetest, tenderest thing anyone ever said to me." Then, he bolstered up his courage ("guts") and gently asked her to resume their relationship: "I still wish you was goin' back to the ranch with me, more than anything I know" - and she breathlessly responded: "I'd go anywhere in the world with you now. Anywhere at all!" - they happily hugged and spun around - deciding to get married and live on his Montana ranch.

Bo's Sincere Apology to Cherie

Goodbye Kiss

"That's the sweetest, tenderest thing..."
  • Bo was overjoyed: "She's gonna marry me!", and Cherie was ecstatic also: "Ain't it wonderful when somebody so terrible turns out to be so nice?" - she crumpled up and threw away her road-map to Hollywood. Outside as the bus was ready to leave, Virgil decided to stay behind, to give them more freedom and independence. After they said all their goodbyes, the couple boarded the bus to Montana.

'Bo' Decker and Virgil Blessing

"I'm gonna get me a angel."

First View of Cherie at Blue Dragon Cafe

Cherie Told Vera Her Dream: To Go to "Hollywood and Vine"

Cherie In the Bar Hustling Customers for Drinks (Actually Tea and Soda)

Cherie Introduced to Beauregard 'Bo' Decker

In the Alleyway Getting Acquainted With Kisses

Bragging: "We're engaged!"

The Next Day at the Rodeo Parade

At the Rodeo, Cherie Told Vera That She Had Signed a Marriage License and Had an Engagement Ring

At the Blue Dragon, Cherie Told Bo "Goodbye Forever"

"Give me back my tail!"

Bo Literally Roped Cherie Onto Bus Bound For Montana

Cherie To Bus Passenger Elma: "I'm being abducted"

Cherie's Conversation on Bus Ride with Elma

Bo Still Determined to Get Married

Bo Subdued After Fight

Conclusion: Bo and Cherie Would Stay Together

Boarding the Bus


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