Antithesis of Gunsmoke
TITLE: McCabe & Mrs. Miller
GENRE: Western Tragedy
CAST: Warren Beatty, Julie Christie and several soon to be recognized character actors. Rene Auberjonois, William Devane, John Schuck, Shelley Duvall and Kieth Carradine
PLOT: A gunslinger/cardshark decides to go legitimate by opening a saloon and brothel in a Zinc mine boomtown. The found metal brings success but real profit can only be made if a company owns all the aspects associated with the effort. Our hero refuses a second offer in hopes of getting more money for his business but ends up putting himself on the road to his own destruction.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT: 8.5 of 10; We can watch the sets being built as background as the boomtown is developed from on site milling operations. It goes from canvas tents to doors and windows. Though the story may be fiction, the authenticity of the sets and costumes cannot be denied, as well as the ever present American prducts of corn liquor and tobacco cigars. We can see the experimentation efforts of the period from the steam tractors and engines to the search for law and order, from the various types of experimental bridges crossing the town's rivulet to the Chinese workers and opium dens. The only drawbacks are a lack of dialogue and the constant sepia tone (achieved by re-exposing the already filmed scenes to some more controlled light), and a resulting overexposure. The effect of the snowstorm in the denoument is well overlayed.
DVD BONUS: Commentary by the director, Altman (his second film, on the heels of M.A.S.H.) and the producer Foster; a 'Behind the Scenes Making of...' documantary; and a theatrical trailer
ADDED NOTES: J.Christie recieved a best actress nomination for her role; Leonard Cohen's music haunts this tragedy and really helped to set the mood the as the action progresses.