Review: ‘McCabe & Mrs. Miller’

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.

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)

McCabe & Mrs. Miller

Production

Warner. Director Robert Altman; Producer David Foster, Mitchell Brower; Screenplay Robert Altman, Brian McKay; Camera Vilmos Zsigmond; Editor Louis Lombardo; Music Leonard Cohen; Art Director Leon Ericksen

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1971. Running time: 121 MIN.

With

Warren Beatty Julie Christie Rene Auberjonois William Devane Shelley Duvall Keith Carradine
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