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Must End Thursday, December 15

Directed by Robert Altman

Starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie


(1971) “I got poetry in me.” In 1902, cocky bearded gambler Warren Beatty, a man who likes to talk to himself and may or may not be a feared gunfighter, decides to build up his business along with the mining town of Presbyterian Church – a business that’s gambling and prostitution. But as Julie Christie’s opium-puffing Mrs. Miller notes, he’ll be more successful if she’s the madam. And so begins a professional and personal relationship (although she charges him, too: $5), even as the town grows up around them – literally:  while the film was shot in continuity, the sets were being built up in the background. But then in echt 70s fashion, those corporate interests move in. Atmospherically and moodily shot by Vilmos Zsigmond (with much of the muted color effect achieved by pre-flashing the film stock) and with Leonard Cohen songs on the soundtrack (astonishingly, not written for the film), all leading up to one of the longest showdowns in Western film history, ostensibly shot in a driving blizzard. DCP restoration. Approx. 121 mins.



“Finds its poetry in the quotidian images of Altman and the late cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond; shot with snowy, stately elegance and loaded with unspeakably beautiful images, the town that John McCabe (Warren Beatty) and others are constructing appears at once organic and otherworldly.”
– Willow Maclay, The Village Voice

When Film Forum scheduled a revival of Robert Altman’s restored 1971 frontier Western, they couldn’t have known that Leonard Cohen — whose songs make up the incomparably evocative soundtrack — would have passed away at the age of 82. Now there’s even more reason to see this sublime film.”
– David Edelstein, New York Magazine

“A remarkably convincing vision of a growing town in the snowy old West.”
Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times

“From the hypnotic opening-title sequence (set to a Leonard Cohen number) to the arresting final shoot-out, Robert Altman’s typically rambling Western is an unqualified, atmospheric masterpiece.”
– Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out

“Most of the movie’s power lies beyond words. It’s in the gauzy, faded images containing beauty and ugliness. It’s in the bottomless and indescribable sadness of the final minutes… Call “McCabe & Mrs. Miller” revolutionary, call it a rebellion against the mainstream. But it’s best when you don’t try to say anything about it at all. As with poetry, which McCabe at one point swears is deep within him, to put words on what happens in its final minute only means you ruin it. 5 (OUT OF 5) GLOBES.”
– Matt Prigge, Metro

“The reason why [McCabe is] loved as personally as any film in the American canon—is that any real-world notes of regret or bitterness, no matter their tragic fullness, resonate primarily as echoes originating from the film itself. McCabe is a frontier Brigadoon, shot by Vilmos Zsigmond (who also died this year) in stuffy, soporific, luminous gold hues for the interiors and a palpable humid chill for the exteriors, as early-winter fog gives way to snow… The most comprehensive revisionist Western, and surely the most bittersweet: one with rough-grained frontier burlesque setpieces; a countercultural thesis about the free enterprise of the Wild West coopted by corporate bullies, in the form of the hired gunmen who come to push McCabe off his business; and pointless, sloppy, antiheroic violence—which nevertheless climaxes in an elegiac ending that aches more than any myth.”
– Mark Asch, Brooklyn Magazine

“A BEAUTIFUL PIPE DREAM OF A MOVIE! Altman’s fleeting vision of what frontier life might have been…Delicate, richly textured, and unusually understated, this modern classic is not like any other film. Altman builds a Western town as one might build a castle in the air – and it’s inhabited.”
– Pauline Kael

“Like no other Western ever made, and with it, Robert Altman earns his place as one of the best contemporary directors… Altman has made a dozen films that can be called great in one way or another, but one of them is perfect, and that one is McCabe & Mrs. Miller.”
– Roger Ebert

“If not the greatest Western ever made, could be the most authentic representation of wilderness life ever put on screen. If it feels like it’s never really about any one thing, it’s because Altman wants it to be about everything…With Leonard Cohen’s ethereal songs and Vilmos Zsigmond’s timeless camerawork, Altman evokes a tragic Western landscape on the brink of economic and spiritual exhaustion.”
– Slant

“Metaphysically purposeful photography!”
– The New York Times

“A western that, as shot by Vilmos Zsigmond, looks like old photographs lit from within, as though the subjects had created a sort of afterlife by finding a way to project their essence onto the film. The movie haunts you like a ballad whose tune you remember but whose words hang just beyond reach. […] The movie feels as delicate, as lulling, as Mrs. Miller’s drug-induced visions, and yet the life it shows us, the town and its people, are so real and sturdy we seem to have stumbled on them. The life the movie shows us is already being lived by the time we turn up. And everything we encounter evolves naturally — the setting, the characters, the story and most of all the mood.”
– Charles Taylor, Salon

“STILL ROBERT ALTMAN'S BEST MOMENT, this 1971 antiwestern murmurs softly of love, death, and capitalism.”
– Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader

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