McCabe & Mrs. Miller

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Overview

Of all Robert Altman's early films released on DVD M*A*S*H, Nashville, perhaps none was more anticipated than 1971's McCabe & Mrs. Miller, starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie. This was the esteemed director's revisionist anti-Western, part of his seemingly systematic deconstruction of genre throughout the 1970s "I'm still chasing genres today," Altman says in the commentary track. Set in the bleak, rainy Pacific Northwest at the turn of the century, the film received critical accolades and was ...
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Michael Murphy, Keith Carradine, Shelley Duvall, Bert Remsen, Corey Fischer, John Schuck, William Devane, Rene Auberjonois,... 06/04/2002 DVD 1971 Run time: 120. BRAND NEW ... Amazing low price. Read more Show Less

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Overview

Of all Robert Altman's early films released on DVD M*A*S*H, Nashville, perhaps none was more anticipated than 1971's McCabe & Mrs. Miller, starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie. This was the esteemed director's revisionist anti-Western, part of his seemingly systematic deconstruction of genre throughout the 1970s "I'm still chasing genres today," Altman says in the commentary track. Set in the bleak, rainy Pacific Northwest at the turn of the century, the film received critical accolades and was frequently singled out for its stunningly beautiful photography and difficult-to-decipher dialogue. If you've ever struggled through watching the darkly lit film on video or on TV, the Warner Home Video DVD will be a much-welcomed revelation. The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen picture still exhibits some graininess and darkness, but that's to be expected given how the film was shot using minimal and natural light and the technique of "flashing" very briefly exposing the negative to light in order to achieve an antiquated, sepia-like visual effect that Altman and his cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond employed. Many of the outdoor shots linger in the mind like paintings: McCabe Beatty crossing a bridge during the credit sequence, a church steeple rising into the sky at sunset, the snow-swept landscapes surrounding the growing town of Presbyterian Church, where McCabe establishes himself as proprietor of a brothel and eventually partners with Mrs. Miller Christie. Despite the predominance of dark hues browns, greens, the colors stand out well enough; for a revealing before-and-after test, just compare the DVD transfer to the original film footage shown in the making-of documentary. As for the sound, the Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track contains some unfortunate hiss, yet it nicely serves the omnipresent sound of wind and rain, as well as the atmospheric Leonard Cohen songs that comprise the soundtrack. Bonus features include the theatrical trailer plus the previously mentioned documentary and commentary by Altman and producer David Foster. Recorded separately, the two commentary tracks don't ever fluidly merge, which is somewhat distracting but also provides some humorous juxtapositions, such as when Foster praises the novel on which the film was based while Altman derides it as "no great piece of writing." Elsewhere, Foster gushes about Altman, and Altman -- big surprise -- complains about producers. However, there are some interesting anecdotes about the filming of the movie that make the commentary worth checking out. What makes this DVD so memorable, though, is the look and feel of this classic from a classic era of American film.
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Special Features

Commentary by director Robert Altman and producer David Foster; behind-the-scenes documentary; cast and film highlights; trailer
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
Deconstructing the Western, Robert Altman's McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) defied conventional myth-making with an oblique narrative steeped in Vietnam-era mistrust of American institutions. Shooting on location in Canada on a haphazard set built as filming progressed, Altman upended Western clichés of heroic Progress in an environment that was authentically rough, even as it evoked the muddy mires of Vietnam. Warren Beatty's McCabe was more buffoonish dreamer than powerful gunfighter, while Julie Christie's business-minded hooker Mrs. Miller had a heart of opium; Altman's widescreen zoom shots and soundtrack of overlapping voices and haunting Leonard Cohen songs downplayed McCabe's presence amid peripheral action and characters. The incursion of corporate interests on McCabe's success seems almost incidental, but the sudden eruption of pointless violence and a lawyer's hypocrisy about freedom and sacrifice reveal McCabe's doom. With cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond's grainy, desaturated colors lending the interiors an orange-brown glow that contrasted with the hazy green-gray exteriors, Altman eschewed heroic frontier vistas in favor of a murky, hallucinatory beauty, particularly in McCabe's snowbound, eerily quiet final shoot-out. Confounding viewers with its layered soundtrack and tonal shifts, McCabe & Mrs. Miller failed to catch on; it has since come to be seen as one of the period's best revisionist Westerns and one of the most poetic and elegiac genre revisions of the 1970s.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/4/2002
  • UPC: 085391105527
  • Original Release: 1971
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Home Video
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Cinemascope (2.35:1)
  • Presentation: Wide Screen
  • Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
  • Language: English, Français
  • Time: 2:01:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Warren Beatty John McCabe
Julie Christie Constance Miller
René Auberjonois Sheehan
William Devane Lawyer
Shelley Duvall Ida Coyle
John Schuck Smalley
Corey John Fischer Mr. Elliott
Keith Carradine Cowboy
Manfred Shulz Kid
Jace Vander Veen Breed
Jackie Crossland Lily
Elizabeth Murphy Kate
Tom Hill Archer
Linda Sorenson Blanche
Elizabeth Knight Birdie
Janet Wright Eunice
Maisie Hoy Maisie
Wayne Robson Bartender
Jack Riley Riley Quinn
Robert Fortier Town Drunk
Wayne Grace Bartender
Graeme Campbell Bill Cubbs
J.S. Johnson J.J.
Joe Clarke Joe Shortreed
Terence Kelly Quigley
Don Francks Buffalo
Rodney Gage Summer Washington
Lili Francks Mrs. Washington
Eric Schneider Townsperson
Claudine Melgrave Townsperson
Gordon Robertson Townsperson
Jeremy Newson Jeremy Berg
Hugh Millais Butler
Bert Remsen Bart Coyle
Antony Holland Hollander
Michael Murphy Sears
Harry Frazier Andy Anderson, Sheehan's People
Technical Credits
Robert Altman Director, Producer, Screenwriter
Mitchell Brower Producer
Ed Butterworth Makeup
Leonard Cohen Score Composer
David Foster Producer
Bob Eggenweiler Associate Producer
Leon Ericksen Production Designer
Robert Jiras Makeup
Albert J. Locatelli Art Director
Lou Lombardo Editor
Brian McKay Screenwriter
Phyllis Newman Makeup
Philip Thomas Art Director
William Thompson Sound/Sound Designer
Tommy Thompson Asst. Director
Marcel Vercoutere Special Effects
Vilmos Zsigmond Cinematographer
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Credits [4:43]
2. Five-Card Stud [4:48]
3. Businessman or Gunfighter? [6:14]
4. $80 for a Chippy [2:44]
5. Eying the Merchandise [5:13]
6. No Partners or Knives [3:03]
7. Constance Miller [3:31]
8. Her Proposal [5:06]
9. A Right to Know [3:51]
10. Mrs. Miller's Women [3:17]
11. Open for Business [2:09]
12. Bookkeeping [4:12]
13. Street Brawl [2:54]
14. Mining Company Offer [4:52]
15. A Warning [3:04]
16. More Offers [5:09]
17. A Funeral [4:12]
18. "Who Wants to Be Next?" [2:46]
19. Bed and Board [2:29]
20. Deal to Be Made? [3:20]
21. McCabe's Price [6:27]
22. Poetry in Me [2:44]
23. Future Hero [4:44]
24. Cowboy's Last Crossing [3:23]
25. Night Jitters [3:44]
26. Death Stalk at Dawn [3:34]
27. Holy Target [1:55]
28. Bathhouse Bullets [3:42]
29. Fire and Blood [3:32]
30. Second Victim [2:18]
31. Butler vs. McCabe [2:36]
32. Last Steps [2:55]
33. Cast List [1:11]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play Movie
   Scene Selection
   Special Features
      Cast & Crew
         Warren Beatty - John Q. McCabe
         Julie Christie - Constance Miller
      Commentary
      Documentary
      Theatrical Trailer
   Languages
      Spoken Languages: English
      Spoken Languages: Français
      Subtitles: English
      Subtitles: Français
      Subtitles: Español
      Subtitles: Português
      Subtitles: Japanese
      Subtitles: Off
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 12 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

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1 Star

(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A Wonderful Movie Filmed in Cypress Bowl, Vancouver BC Canada

    When this movie was made, the Cypress Bowl ski area in West Vancouver did not exist. The only access was a steep wandering logging road. The town existed for filming was located underneath what was later filled to create the ski area parking lot. From the opening vista showing West Point Grey and the University of BC off in the distance (how did they remove the city lights?), to the heavy rain and snow, the conditions of moutain life are accurately reflected. As with so many films, a lovely Canadian location has been selected, only to pretend to be located in the USA. All in all, the story, the location and Cohen's music make this a film that one never forgets.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    An Authentic Gem

    Set in a NW Canadian mining village, the hallmark of this film is authenticity. The set was built as real timber frame cabins, and the crew lived in them during preparation and film. The bad weather sequences were shot in bad weather, and there is mud everywhere. A real steam traction engine, real horse freight wagons in their own setting (although I winced when some clown stopped a loaded wagon on a steep grade - the horses would never have got going again). Got to mention the music - haunting and SOOOO atmospheric. Along with the setting, the characters were real and the plot completely believeable. Makes me think each time I re-run it. I note that reviews either have five stars or one - let's just say it's a thinking person's Western.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Best Western Ever Made

    As a historical study, this is a refreshing look at the Old West. This movie is an inspired look at the Old West as it really was. A true gem.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Retort to 10/24 review

    Never post on these boards, but that comment (10/24) needs to be dealt with. As the brilliant the Roger Ebert pointed out, the movie is titled McCabe & Mrs. Miller, like a business. Not McCabe and Mrs. Miller as in a couple. Hence, there no relationship (beyond the ''paid variety'') between them like the one you seem to have wanted to develop. Regardless of that, how dare you call a movie this evocative, horrible! Gorgeous film, proving yet again the utter brilliance of Altman.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Stealth Anti-Drug Movie

    I saw McCabe & Mrs. Miller when it was first released and I was attending the University of Hawaii and living on the fringes of the 60's drug culture. For me, at least, the tragic image of McCabe dying in the snow while Mrs Miller was getting high was the strongest anti-drug statement I'd ever seen. Probably saved me from a wasted life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Altman's Masterpiece

    A masterpiece. Altman shows what the real west was like. The ensemble cast is exceptional. Zsigmond's cinematography perfectly captures the mood (all of the film stock was ''flashed'' so that it would have a texture and an amber patina throughout.) The use of an open mic adds layers of sound and conversations which the viewer can concentrate on. Leonard Cohen's soundtrack is perfect.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Great

    At last, a movie of substance from USA. Superb detail, haunting setting, the real world. A must for any 'western' fan

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Haunting

    A very memorable film with a beautiful, haunting soundtrack of Leonard Cohen songs. The ''anti-Western'' that feels much more realistic than any Western ever made.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    One of Altman's Classics

    This movie is brought to you by the same mind that gave us M.A.S.H., Nashville, Buffalo Bill & the Indians (not a box office biggie but I loved it because legends are wrenched back to reality right in your face) Come Back to the 5 & 10..., Gosford Park, & Prairie Home Companion. With Altman, it's not about what the audience thinks SHOULD happen...it's about what the characters hope will happen and what, ultimately, does happen. The human condition is always at play and the unexpected is always right around the corner. If you aren't taken with this movie the first time...maybe see a couple of Altman's others and then come back. I love Altman and I love this movie.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Horrible

    The plot of this movie was so underwritten! As soon as you TRY to get into the movie, it ends distastefully. What a let-down! There should've been more of a relationship with MacCabe and Mrs. Miller, hence the title.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Boring

    This movie put me to sleep. Between Warren Beaty's mubblling the same dumb aphorisms over and over and the washed out ''Paint your Wagon'' set, I was lost 15 minutes into the thing.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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