Friday, 22 April 2016

The 8th Hall Of Fame Inductee Representing Drama Film - McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) - Robert Altman

I’ve been harping on about my love of McCabe & Mrs. Miller for the guts of two years now, so it’s about time that I put it into the Hall Of Fame. One of two non-traditional westerns to go in this year, this film has been described as a ‘Revisionist Western,’ and some have even gone so far as referring to it as an ‘Anti-Western.’ One can understand that sentiment, given the kinds of things that both the writer-director and leading male actor were doing with their careers at the time. Robert Altman had this habit of taking an established genre and subverting them to suit his own artistic intentions, and Warren Beatty, never better, who from 1967 onwards with Bonnie And Clyde used his clout and ladykiller public persona to make interesting projects and take people unawares with his performances. Thus, alongside the also-terrific Julie Christie, we have two main characters who on the surface appear to carry the stereotypical characteristics associated with them, but are really damaged, insecure and as messed up as the rest of us. The film also has a great mise-en-scene, which is splendidly photographed by Vilmos Zsigmond and a score consisting of perfect use of work from The Songs Of Leonard Cohen (it almost seems like the music was written for the film, and not before!). When deciding between my favorite Robert Altman film, I’m always at loggerheads between this and the big political spectacle that is Nashville, but right now, as I am most of the time, I’m convinced that McCabe & Mrs. Miller, which at first look seems so simple, yet underneath has such an intelligence and rich understanding of the minutiae of human emotional behavior, is the superior film.

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