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California Split

40 customer reviews

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(Nov 02, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Bill Denny (George Segal) and Charlie Walters (Elliott Gould) are two compulsive gamblers with nothing in common except incredibly bad luck. But after a chance meeting at an LA card parlor, these twolosers find that together, they make an unbeatable team. Embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime winning streak, Bill and Charlie bet their way from the tacky racetracks and bars of Los Angeles to the plush casino tables of Reno, where they end up staking their good fortune on a "friendly" little game ofpoker with the legendary world champion, Amarillo Slim. A high-rolling comedy about two friends with an uncontrollable urge to score.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: John Considine, Elliott Gould, George Segal, Jeff Goldblum, Ann Prentiss
  • Directors: Robert Altman
  • Producers: Robert Altman, Joseph Walsh
  • Format: Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Japanese
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 2, 2004
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002XNSZE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,001 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "California Split" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Clare Quilty on August 27, 2004
Format: DVD
OK, so it's coming out as what appears to be a bare-bones disk instead of a juiced-up Criterion collection title (doubly sad since other Altman classics like "Secret Honor," "Tanner 88" and "Short Cuts" are getting the CC treatment the same month) but that doesn't matter.

What does matter is that I'm finally going to get to see my favorite film in widescreen.

I taped "Split" off cable years and years ago. I remember setting up the recording at some ungodly hour (3:25 a.m. or something) because I didn't want to miss it and I ended up watching the movie in its entirity.

Elliott Gould gives an amazing, lived-in performance as a lucky card player who takes a liking to a less fortunate gambler and, through a series of episodes, we watch them pass a few weeks hitting the track, going to boxing matches, playing poker, drinking, getting beat up and using a neat home remedy on their bruises over Fruit Loops. Their friendship is one of the best I've seen on-screen. Screenwriter Joseph Walsh appears briefly as Sparkie the shylock and it's a perfect cameo, a pre-"Sopranos" portrait of a crook haggard by the life ("Didn't I tell you that I've got busts happening all over the city, that my parents are in town, and you come in here and you don't have dollar one?")

This is a woefully underseen Altman classic, mostly because it's not available on tape or DVD, it's pretty rare. But it's a great movie -- I even have the one-sheet for "Split" hanging over my computer -- and I'm very, very pleased that I'll finally be able to see something *besides* the opening and closing credits in letterbox (it always seemed to underline the cruelty of pan-and-scan when, after the credit "Directed by Robert Altman" my beloved black bars disappeared).
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Cubist on December 7, 2004
Format: DVD
In the 1970s, Elliott Gould and Robert Altman were an unbeatable team. They first worked together on M*A*S*H, a savage satire of the military, then again on a radical, contemporary reworking of Raymond Chandler's novel, The Long Goodbye, and finally completed the hat trick with California Split, an ode to obsessive gamblers. For years, this film has been relegated to obscurity, showing up occasionally on TV and tied up in legal issues over the music which delayed its release on DVD. Finally, all of these entanglements have been resolved and the movie is presented the way it was meant to be seen.

California Split is one of Altman's trademark character-driven films. It is less concerned with plot than behaviour as we watch the friendship between Bill and Charlie develop over a mutual love of gambling. As the film progresses and the two men hang out more, Bill starts to become more addicted to the gambling lifestyle. He blows off work early to meet Charlie at the track and sells his possessions for money. Bill and Charlie are gambling addicts who ride the high arcs and the low valleys, never passing up a bet. At a boxing match they put money on the outcome of the fight with a fellow spectator.

Those who know Elliott Gould and George Segal only from their contemporary sitcom appearances (Friends and Just Shoot Me, respectively), should see California Split if only to see these guys in their prime and working with a master filmmaker at the top of his game. Gould and Segal have never been better and play well of each other. There is good chemistry between them as Gould plays the more experienced gambler in contrast to Segal's more naïve one.

Altman fans will enjoy the audio commentary included on this DVD.
Read more ›
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By canuhearmenow? on November 21, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
OK...if you had told me ten years ago this film would be on DVD i would've been shocked...first I would've said 'what's a dvd'? then i would have said 'i can't believe anyone remembers this film besides myself' (i've been trumpeting it for years...if that's a word) It might not look like it, but this film is a true masterpiece, one of Mr. Altmans best films (up there with Nashville, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, etc...) The story is a little ramshackle...but that's part of the charm. You follow two gamblers as they roam around California looking for action, they win...sometimes...and lose...more...get beat up a couple times...and eventually travel to Reno for the grand finale. The acting is perfect, Elliot Gould has never been better and George Segal gives a great haggard performance. The sound is Altman at his most layered. The whole film is rich in detail and heavy on atmosphere and most viewers will need to watch a couple times to really enjoy. If you think 'Rounders' is a great poker film...see this one. And for once he commentary on this DVD is great (too often commentary is boring 'oh yeah, that actor was wonderful, that actress was amazing, etc.. without explaining how the film got made, etc) They don't make 'em like this anymore.

Also: when will Altmans "A Wedding" come out on DVD, a true lost classic (similar to Gosford Park and Nashville in style). It's been out of print for years and needs to be seen!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Derek McCumber on January 25, 2010
Format: DVD
The main thing that struck me while watching this film is how (like many 70s films) it would never be made today. Today it would be re-written with vulgar potty jokes and immature geek humor a la "The Hangover", "bromance" (god, I hate that word)-style homo-erotic humor and chick-flick melodrama, and would be chock full of hip music montages, unrealistically sexy women, and would have a flase happy ending. It reminded me of how seldom REAL men are portrayed on the screen. They're usually reduced to testosterone-packed meat puppets, frat-boy washouts, or geeky Peter Pans. Today the characters would be 5-10 years younger, much more attractive, and thoroughly unbelievable.

Instead, we get Robert Altman long before he and his fans became pretentious, Elliot Gould and George Segal (two GREAT 70s actors) at the top of their game, a story that NEVER condescends, and some wonderful widescreen cinematography.

It's not a classic, but it's not trying to be. It's just a funny, smart, touching portrait of a couple of down on their luck, but not quite broken, gamblers. Gets an extra star for having balls. SO refreshing.
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