Wayward Bus, The: Vicas’ Thriller-Melodrama, Starring Joan Collins and Jayne Mansfield

Victor Vicas directed The Wayward Bus, a modest black-and white melodrama, starring two sex pots of the 1950s, Joan Collins and Jayne Mansfield.

Steinbeck completed the novel, his first after “The Grapes of Wrath,” for publication in 1947, which was adpated to the screen by Ivan Moffat.

Collins plays Alice Chicoy, the wife of driver Johnny, who owns a small, rundown bus that makes side trips.  For her part, Alice owns a little restaurant and drinks too much.

Unhappy, she decides to “surprise” her husband midway through his bus trip. Among the passengers, she encounters Camille Oakes, a burlesque dancer on her way to San Juan for a job.  Camille engages in a flirt with traveling salesman Ernest Horton (Dan Dailey).

Most of the story takes place on the bus, as it makes its way through a treacherous California mountain region.  During the journey, the passengers go through various crises, some of which life-altering experiences with profound effects on the iconoclastic salesman and the burlesque dancer.

It’s a minor, harmless movie in the careers of all the actors concerned. And while the looks of Joan Collins are understated, the opposite could be said about Jane Mansfield, who cuts a shapely figure, defined by her famous large bosom.

Major changes were imposed on the novel, including reduction of the sex angle and making the passengers younger.  In the movie, the bus does not get mired in the mud, but gets caught with one wheel over the edge of a cliff on a washed out road.

Joan Collins as Alice Chicoy
Jayne Mansfield as Camille Oakes
Dan Dailey as Ernest Horton
Rick Jason as Johnny Chicoy
Betty Lou Keim as Norma, the counter girl
Dolores Michaels as Mildred Pritchard
Larry Keating as Elliott Pritchard

Directed by Victor Vicas
Produced by Charles Brackett
Written by Ivan Moffat, based on John Steinbeck’s novel, The Wayward Bus
Music by Leigh Harline
Cinematography: Charles G. Clarke
Edited by Louis R. Loeffler
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date: May 27, 1957
Running time: 87 minutes


The movie was showed on F/X on May 18, 2020.