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 two plays by William Inge, People in the Wind and Bus Stop. The inspiration for the play Bus Stop came from people Inge met in Tonganoxie, Kansas.
In the 1961–62 season, ABC adapted the play and film into a television seriesof the same name, Bus Stop starring Marilyn Maxwell as the owner of the bus station and diner. In the segment “Chérie” which most closely follows the film, Tuesday Weld performed the role of Marilyn Monroe, and Gary Lockwoodappeared 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, a talentless but 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’re 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’s too stubborn to listen.
The next day, Beau gets a marriage license, and then takes an exhausted Cherie 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’re all stranded there. The bus driver, the waitress and the café owner 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’s 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’d 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 she’ll 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.