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McCabe & Mrs. Miller

Robert Altman

This unorthodox dream western by Robert Altman may be the most radically beautiful film to come out of the New American Cinema. It stars Warren Beatty and Julie Christie as two newcomers to the raw Pacific Northwest mining town of Presbyterian Church, who join forces to provide the miners with a superior kind of whorehouse experience. The appearance of representatives of a powerful mining company with interests of its own, however, threatens to be the undoing of their plans. With its fascinating flawed characters, evocative cinematography by the great Vilmos Zsigmond, innovative overlapping dialogue, and haunting use of Leonard Cohen songs, McCabe & Mrs. Miller brilliantly deglamorized and revitalized the most American of genres.

“If I was to tell you the basic story of McCabe you might think that it represents the most conventional of western forms and stories. But it is the emphasis that Altman places upon ambience, atmosphere and the transgressive potential of such generic elements and formulae that proves to be transformative. It is here that his films, and McCabe is no exception, become iconoclastic and start to probe the structures, ideologies and basic content of established forms.” – Senses of Cinema

“The film is time travel, as sensually immersive as any American film of any era. The manifestation of the foggy Pacific Northwest in the 1880s (abetted famously by Vilmos Zsigmond’s pre-flashing the film stock) has the intoxicating quality of a gaslight memory, a diffuse smoky, groggy return to the past.” – Sight & Sound

“Existing in a middle ground between the life affirming qualities of the Vancouver landscape where it was shot and his own self-loathing anti-human biases, McCABE is probably Robert Altman’s most satisfying work. Roger Ebert, who can be credited with perpetuating much of the film’s initial success, called it “an elegy for the dead,” but as it progresses McCABE feels more like an elegy for the living; it’s a film about misdirected intentions, poorly communicated emotions, and failed opportunities.” – Cine-File

“Breughel way out West, with a screenplay by Mark Twain… Robert Altman’s warmest, most lyrical masterwork doesn’t so much scrape the mythology off the Western as invent a folkloric form of its own… A vision at once roughhewn and delicate, Altman’s cynicism and his romanticism in perfect balance, a ballad and a dirge.” – CinePassion

“Robert Altman’s anti-western McCabe & Mrs. Miller is so self-contained and effortlessly executed to be read as a deliberate exercise in genre deconstruction. Altman’s obsession with the myth of frontier life (its destruction, its re-civilization) is a mere backdrop for a struggle that pits the individual against big business. If not the greatest western ever made, McCabe & Mrs. Miller could be the most authentic representation of wilderness life ever put on screen.” Slant



  • 1/25 | 9:00PM
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