Robert Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller is a disappointing mixture. A period story about a small northwest mountain village where stars Warren Beatty and Julie Christie run the bordello, the production suffers from overlength; also a serious effort at moody photography which backfires into pretentiousness; plus a diffused comedy-drama plot line which is repeatedly shoved aside in favor of bawdiness.
Edmund Naughton’s novel, McCabe, was shot around Vancouver under the title, The Presbyterian Church Wager, named for a fictional town. Rene Auberjonois is top-featured as a saloon-bordello owner whose monopoly on fun and games is broken by roving gambler Beatty. Christie becomes Beatty’s partner in the flourishing enterprise.
Beatty seems either miscast or misdirected. His own youthful looks cannot be concealed by a beard, make-up, a grunting voice and jerky physical movements; the effect resembles a high-school thesp playing Rip Van Winkle. Christie on the other hand is excellent.
1971: Nomination: Best Actress (Julie Christie)