Saturday, 3 October 2015

I've Just Seen: McCabe and Mrs Miller (1971)

McCabe and Mrs Miller (1971)
Director: Robert Altman

This is the third Beatty and Christie pairing I have seen in film; the other two are Heaven Can Wait and Shampoo. This is arguably the least romantic and bleakest film of the three. Altman, one of the heavyweights of the American New Wave, here portrays a rather complex image of the macho American gunslinger who enters town a mysterious man. McCabe's image is challenged by Mrs Miller, a woman with actual business smarts; McCabe merely believes he has them, but is easily swayed by Miller.

The cinematography is deliberately aged to mimic photography from the early twentieth century. Things look slightly out of focus and unclear, much like the world the characters inhabit. It was stiking to see the new buildings in the film; most of the time, period films have houses and shops that look old (as they do to us), rather than how they looked to the people at the time.

McCabe and Mrs Miller is a film I would say I appreciated rather than enjoyed. Altman certainly has his own style, and clearly knew how to direct actors. I prefered MASH because of its humour, but both films have a similar melancholy underneath their stories.


  1. I'm right there with you here. It's a technical achievement and a film I appreciate, but I can't say I really liked this one much. Altman made some great films...this wasn't one of his best (IMHO).

    1. I almost feel bad for not calling it great, because I can see what Altman wanted to do, and he by and large did it, and did it well. I just wasn't moved by it, and for a film to be great (or close to it), it needs to move me as well as be technically sound.

    2. I'm with you there.