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McCabe & Mrs. Miller
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With winnings from a small-time card hustle, McCabe buys three girls and sets up a makeshift whorehouse and casino. A madame talks him into backing a real bordello complete with professionals from Seattle.
Release Date: 4-JUN-2002
Media Type: DVD
Iconoclastic director Robert Altman (Nashville, M.A.S.H.), deconstructs and demythologizes Hollywood's typically romantic vision of the Old West in this haunting, breathtaking masterpiece. A stranger, McCabe (Warren Beatty's best performance), the film's nonheroic protagonist, rides into a dead northwest mountain town (to the mournful sounds of Leonard Cohen), possessing ambitious entrepreneurial dreams of expansion. As the town grows, Mrs. Miller (Julie Christie's finest role, as well), a tough madam, arrives and convinces McCabe to join her in a partnership. Neither are typical Western archetypes: McCabe's an insecure braggart, bumbling lover, and horrible businessman, while Mrs. Miller, hardly a whore with a heart of gold, favors her opium pipe to her partner's romantic advances. Altman, meanwhile, buries these central characters within the town's complex, richly detailed tapestry of characters, preferring to eavesdrop on their overlapping conversations and study the bleak, harsh conditions of their lifestyles. At its core, the film addresses the sacrifices of individualism needed in order to build a community, an American concept that the independent Altman views with skeptical irony. The inevitable final shoot-out underscores the theme. Because McCabe refuses to sell the town he built to a corporation, hired bounty hunters are sent. Instead of a showdown at high noon, the finale--one of Altman's most beautiful set pieces--takes place in the snow, guerilla warfare style. As McCabe runs and hides for his life, the town he created preoccupies itself with saving a burning church instead of their creator, while Mrs. Miller, stoned and grinning, detaches herself from either concern. Cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond captures the town's brutal textures in luminous Cinemascope, which, sadly, is transformed into ugly murk on the nonletterboxed video version. Widescreen laser discs are available, however. --Dave McCoy --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
What's even worse is that the DVD isn't even available at Amazon.ca! However it is on the US Amazon. As much as it's an imperfect transfer, that's still wildly preferable to an aging VHS tape!
Altman is arguably the most important American director after Welles. His use of panorama and flow---every tv show today uses Altman's flow through technique---make you want to watch this film over and over. Once for the story, once just to appreciate his fluid camera motion, once to appreciate how he maintains large groups and then focuses on one person in the group, and once again to watch how it all works.
Even Altman's failures, and he had his share of those, are still interesting to watch. I would rather watch a bad Altman film than films by most other directors, and that especially means directors like Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese, who i think are highly over rated.
But this is one of Altman's best.
I thought Keith Carradine's role as the cowboy is the best acting in this film, and if you watch him play Bill Hickok in Deadwood, you'll hardly believe you're seeing the same actor, so great are his talents.
This movie has remained on my all-time favourites list since 1971. But you will not find "excitement" or "action" here. It's simply an exceptional portrait of a special time and place.
The West of Robert Altman (Pacific Northwest more precisely) is not the the usual West of Hollywood. Peopled by poor working stiffs & idiots at the mercy of hustlers, gamblers, killers and whores, and inevitably, by politicians & big business in the form of the quietly rapacious Railroad, it is wet, nasty, dirty, and harsh.
A small-time gambler McCabe (Beatty) becomes an entrepenuer (saloon & brothel) in the soggy and filthy mining town of Presbyterian with the aid of a sharp and clever English madam (Christie) only to have his newfound prosperity & "status" threatened by a ruthless larger enterprise. This is a true American story. Not the only American story, but just as valid as any others.
Filmed in real rain and real snow on location, this film just has lots and lots of good stuff. The plight of the cowboy on the bridge (Keith Carradine) facing a psychotic baby-faced gunslinger, McCabe's desperate battle in the snow, the overlapping dialogue with very funny throw-away lines, the appropriate use of Leonard Cohen's songs, and the beautiful cinematography. It is a rich film that only improves on multiple viewings.
This movie says more about the underlying dark side of the conquest of the American West than Cimino's Heaven's Gate did in half the time and probably 1/10th of the budget. Of course, that is the difference between a would-be "artiste" and a guy who makes movies that turn out to be art.
The quality of the VHS is only fair. This film cries out for DVD. But, if this is the only way to see it....see it.
Most recent customer reviews
Fast service. Very quick delivery. Item in perfect condition. Highly recommand this seller to potential buyers. Will buy again. A+++Published on Nov. 21 2011 by JC
Dull, boring, uninteresting moodfest/snore-a-thon. Does for Westerns what "2001" did for Sci-fi. If you like movies for their artistic "vision" then by all means. Read morePublished on Nov. 19 2002 by Ghenghis
Put together Robert Altman, Warren Beatty, and Julie Christie 30 years ago and you have an excellent piece of work. Read morePublished on July 29 2002 by Jane Z. Hinsdale
Robert Altman fans are like "Velvet Underground" fans: There are only about 500 of them around, they fanatically defend the object of their adulation, they insist that... Read morePublished on July 23 2002 by Ingles
"Red River" and "Unforgiven" top my list of the greatest Westerns ever made. Right behind those classics is this film. Read morePublished on July 3 2002 by carol irvin
It's a travesty that this film should be so highly regarded while Heaven's Gate's gets constantly trashed. Read morePublished on June 14 2002