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McCabe & Mrs. Miller
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Top Customer Reviews
As others have said, this film explores the dark, realist side of the American West. However, unlike other anti-Westerns of the era like The Wild Bunch, it does so in a hauntingly beautiful, even lyrical (albeit melancholic) way, augmented by Leonard Cohen's perfectly matched songs and the atmospheric cinematography.
There are the usual Western archetypes and themes - the gunslinger, the [prostitute], the church (symbolizing redemption and civilization), etc. - but Altman turns them upside-down. The would-be hero is an insecure bumbler who lets the whore get under his skin and dies, unceremoniously, in a snowbank. There is no honor among the thieves - they shoot people for no particular reason. The church burns. And, unlike most Westerns, the film is set not in the desert, but in the foggy Pacific Northwest, adding to the murky, morally ambiguous atmosphere, which is further enhanced by the occasionally inaudible dialogue.
This understated film has none of the overwrought archness of Altman's later work, so those who have been put off by same (as I have) need not worry - these are not merely clever celebrity cameos, but characters who live and breathe and make us care about what happens to them. The film is sombre but has many naturally comic moments (thanks to Beatty's usual bumbling loverboy persona) and is never merely studied or self-important. Similarly, for those who might be skeptical, Cohen's music is his earliest, most affecting, and least pompous.
I have a very sensitive BS meter and it never buzzes during this remarkably beautiful and affecting movie. For those who really care about film, I can't recommend it highly enough.
Anyway, here's my response to some of the criticism.
This film has too much realism - I watched the movie with the audio commentary by Robert Altman and producer David Foster (which is good, as far as those things go), and the short documentary on the making of McCABE & MRS. MILLER, which I believe was made shortly after the movie. The realism, in my opinion, is what gives this movie depth and texture. The town was being built while the movie was being shot (the film was shot in sequence), and the buildings are not facades. They are real buildings. Interior shots were done in them and not in studio.
It's pointless, boring and pretentious - I think because Altman focuses so much on characters and their motivations the viewer may miss the plot. The plot here is pretty simple - At the turn of the last century a man builds a gambling/whore house in a small mining town. An astute madam joins him and in short order the venture is a success. Such a success, in fact, that an outside concern wants to buy him out. Two men are sent to the small town to negotiate with him, and he drunkenly refuses their offer. They leave and the outside concern takes the next step, which is to employ three hired killers to do away with McCabe.
I suppose letting characters evolve and refraining from throwing plot points at us can seem pretentious. To me, it simply felt like the director wasn't talking down to me. Altman says somewhere in the voice over that movies are canvases to him, and he likes working in the corners. That's not everybody's cup of tea.
And the ending....Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
McCabe and Mrs Miller is a genuinely fantastic film. It may very well be my favorite Robert Altman film. Read morePublished 3 days ago by WeZ9alt
Always loved this film .. still do. BTW, the sound quality is good .. it was deliberately intended to evoke the feeling of listening to conversations under less than ideal... Read morePublished 24 days ago by old hickory
It happens this is one of my favs of all time. It's a period piece, not a deep movie, just well done. Love it.Published 1 month ago by Kris A. Kramer
This movie is in my top ten list of all time...it is a beautiful movie and more. But how could they leave Julie Christie off of the cover of the Blu-ray?Published 2 months ago by Gunnison
Beatty and Christie are wonderful and cinematography is amazingPublished 2 months ago by Book lover17
I loved the film when it first came out and feel it's strictly a big screen movie. It came across the small screen as too dark & hard to get the characters identified. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jean
A classic! An elegantly messy pastoral ode to the old northwest. Cluttered and spattered with rain, mud, snow and characters weaving in and out of the story of a pair of... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Norm Knott
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