Don Murray received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Beauregard 'Bo' Decker in Bus Stop.
Don Murray portrays the cowboy who loves yipping and hollering in a Richard Dix sort of fashion, which you know is never a good thing. Murray stays hooting and a hollering almost entirely throughout his performance as the very very dumb Bo Decker who goes to participate in a rodeo and at the same time thinks of picking up a woman. He goes along with his mentor of sorts Virgil (Arthur O'Connell) who tries to keep him in line. I must say it is absolutely amazing that out of the cast of Bus Stop they decided to reward Murray for his efforts since he gives the least impressive performance in the entire film.
It is made even more amazing though by the fact that he is not at all supporting and is in fact the male lead of the film, but perhaps the weakness of the performance put him supporting in their eyes, but if they noticed the weakness of his performance why would they have nominated him? Anyways Murray is extremely repetitive in his performance as he repeats the same over the top cowboy mannerisms almost throughout the performance which aren't even well done in the first place and do feel like a performance at all times. Murray stays basically one note the whole way through never trying to create anything layered about Bo.
He pretty much shows Bo to just be an idiot, or at least that is the way he plays him. He is so dumb though I questioned why we had to witness this character at all, or why the other character's took to the end of the film to give him a good beating. An extremely dumb character, and portrayal that keeps the dumbness to a maximum usually are only found in broad comedies, or if not they are usually small bit parts neither is the case with old Bo leaving him as just an obnoxious character that seems strange as a lead. It might have worked perhaps if Murray was ever funny in the role, but he does not has one moment that has the slightest bit of humor.
His two main relationships in the film have nothing special to them. He lacks any sort of chemistry with O'Connell or Monroe. Their scenes together only really illustrate how much better performers Monroe and O'Connell are than he is. He does not hold a single scene as his own since he just participates in the same unbearable shtick throughout, any scene with any other actor always belongs to the other actor in the scene it is quite insane really that Murray was nominated here. His performance is just that unremarkable, and is one of those types of work that come along every so often that is both dull and over the top which is a deadly combination.
His performance is not absolutely awful for only one reason which is his last scene after Bo is deservedly beaten for mistreating everyone and being a bully while being his hooting self. All of a sudden Murray learns subtly for his very last scene, although I would say even though he does learn subtly for this scene it still doesn't make much sense. He was almost a cartoon for the rest of the film and the Bo Murray shows in the last scene does not seem to be another side of Bo, or even a changed Bo, but an entirely different and unrelated man. As a unrelated man he is technically okay in the scene suggesting an actual person rather than a series of different loud noises. Still this one scene is not amazing by any means and only prevents this from being the worst nominated in this category, but it does not stop it from being one of the worst.