****/**** Image A+ Sound A+ Extras A
starring Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Rene Auberjonois, William Devane
screenplay by Robert Altman and Brian McKay, based on the novel McCabe by Edmund Naughton
directed by Robert Altman
by Walter Chaw SPOILER WARNING IN EFFECT. Robert Altman's McCabe & Mrs. Miller is, even more than his Nashville, the quintessential American film. The whole of it is in a constant state of construction and reconstruction, a continuous and ever-doomed battle against entropy and that human desire to matter a little before it's all over too soon. The modern analogue for it is Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood, as both films detail the sad lives of entrepreneurs staking a claim for themselves on the frontier at the beginning of America's potential. The only reward for ambition, unfortunately, is death. Death is the only reward for anything. John McCabe (Warren Beatty) is a swaggering loudmouth in a big fur coat who one day struts into the tiny town of Presbyterian Church, pop. 120 (the majority of those prospectors and illiterate scumbags), lays a cloth across a table in the disgusting saloon of Sheehan (Rene Auberjonois), and proceeds to take the rubes for everything they're worth. With that cash, he buys three broken-down whores, then lights out for the edge of town, where he starts a company.
Business is good.