ALTMAN’S “McCABE & MRS. MILLER” | TSY REQUIRED VIEWING

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1970 – ’71 was definitely a high-water mark for Film Director (not to mention a badass photographer to boot) Robert Altman.  Hot on the heels of M*A*S*H (1970), McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971) was released and became, what many consider to be, one of Warren Beatty’s finest roles, and one of the best Westerns (or anti-Western, if you will) ever made according to many film aficionados.  It wasn’t your typical red-blooded Western by any stretch of the imagination. See it for yourself.

There was a definite charged energy on the set (shot completely in B.C.)– the reported tension between the egomaniac Beatty and the chill Altman– not to mention the sexual energy between Beatty and Christie, who were deep in the throes of a passionate love affair– is there any other kind of affair with Beatty? Then there’s the haunting film soundtrack including the legendary Leonard Cohen that accompanied Zsigmond’s “flashed” film negative. A truly ballsy move– Altman and Zsigmond shot the film “pre-fogged” through a number of filters to maintain the visual effect they wanted, rather than manipulate it in post-production. That ensured that studio wimps couldn’t later tune-down the film’s look to something more safe and conventional. Vilmos Zsigmond’s brilliant work would garner him a nomination by the British Academy Film Awards.

Enjoy these stunning images from the film and on set. Beatty, even being the huge ass that he was/is (seriously, bedded 13,000 ladies, WTF?), looks stunning (crushing it in a beard, bowler and fur coat)–and Julie Christie is definitely no slouch either. Hubba. Altman is throwing down some serious grizzly style as well– check that fringed suede jacket towards the end of the post.

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Warren Beatty as John Q. McCabe, in a scene from Robert Altman’s 1971 anti-Western masterpiece, “McCabe & Mrs. Miller.”

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Warren Beatty as John Q. McCabe, in a scene from Robert Altman’s 1971 anti-Western masterpiece, “McCabe & Mrs. Miller.”

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Warren Beatty as John Q. McCabe, in a scene from Robert Altman’s 1971 anti-Western masterpiece, “McCabe & Mrs. Miller.”

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Warren Beatty as John Q. McCabe, in Robert Altman’s 1971 anti-Western masterpiece, “McCabe & Mrs. Miller.” — Image by © Douglas Kirkland/Corbis

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Warren Beatty is said to have fallen for Julie Christie while watching her shake hands with the Queen. The couple began seeing each other shortly after Beatty paid a visit to her on the set of the film “Petulia.” At first the romance remained an open secret among Hollywood’s A-list– but by 1968 the couple were being seen together in public. In 1971, rumors began that the couple had secretly married while playing lovers in “McCabe and Mrs Miller.” The famously private Christie told reporters, “If we are, we are. If we’re not we’re not.” Beatty continued to see other women during his time with her and, tired of his serial womanizing, she broke off the relationship in 1973. via

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“His conquests were a matter of chemistry — and a hell of a lot of stamina,” said Robert Altman of Warren Beatty, who directed Beatty and Julie Christie (they were an off-screen item) in “McCabe And Mrs Miller.” Director John Schlesinger was less kind in speaking of Warrenn Beatty– “He seems to get through women like a businessman through a dozen oysters…”

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Warren Beatty in McCabe and Mrs Miller, which he ‘more or less disowned as he thought the director, Robert Altman, had muddied his screen presence.’  — Image by © SNAP/Rex Features via

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(Lt.) 1971 — Warren Beatty in a publicity shot for “Mccabe & Mrs. Miller,” directed by Robert Altman. — Image by © Bettmann/Corbis

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Julie Christie’s performance in Altman’s “Mccabe & Mrs. Miller” was nominated for the “Best Actress” Academy Award.  She held her own against Warren Beatty, and was a huge sex symbol herself in the day.

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“McCabe & MRS. Miller” (1971), starring Warren Beatty as a two-bit entrepreneur who opens a whorehouse in a fledgling mining town, was Robert Altman’s unconventional version of How the West Was Won. — Image © AMPAS

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Robert Altman directing Warren Beatty during the filming of 1971’s “McCabe & Mrs. Miller.”

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Warren Beatty, Julie Christie and Director Robert Altman in a casual moment during the filming of 1971’s”Mcabe & Mrs. Miller.” — Image by © Steve Schapiro/Corbis

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February 1971, Vancouver, British Columbia — Warren Beatty and Julie Christie with director Robert Altman on location filming “McCabe & Mrs. Miller.” — Image by © Bettmann/Corbis

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1971, British Columbia, Canada — Director Robert Altman behind movie camera during the making of “McCabe & Mrs. Miller.” — Image by © Steve Schapiro/Corbis  “McCabe and Mrs. Miller was shot with two cameras. It was efficient. We were getting away from the idea that once you lit a scene you couldn’t move the camera. If you moved the camera, you had to move the light. If you moved the camera just this much you’d fuck it up. I said, ‘I can’t deal with that.’ Suppose you come into a scene and you see a guy sitting at a desk. The audience knows the camera is on him alone. That’s the only thing you’re seeing. But suppose the camera is coming through the office and out of the corner of your eye you see somebody at their desk do something and you get sucked into that? That appeals to me more than the setup. Unless the setup is very specific and I’m using it as part of the storytelling.”  — Robert Altman via

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13 thoughts on “ALTMAN’S “McCABE & MRS. MILLER” | TSY REQUIRED VIEWING

  1. Nice write up, but not one of top picks of his movies. You might check out Three Women or Alan Rudolph’s work. I think he worked for Altman? Remember My Name is one of his best.
    Thanks for all the good stuff.
    Mike

  2. Haven’t seen it, have it lined up on “netflix” now though.

    The clothes look great, but the beard?? Nah… Some people look good in big beards(the Band). Beatty really doesn’t. To Amish, to caveman-like. Sorry, not a fan.

    Love the blog, the only one i follow actually. Easy to follow with the twitter-links. Keep up the great work.

  3. A great movie. Haven’t seen it in years, but I remember it well. One of Julie Christie’s finest moments. Remember reading that Altman and Beattie didn’t get on well — Beattie wanted to be the director. But I remember how the town was built as the film progressed, the terrific Leonard Cohen songs on the soundtrack, and the final shootout in the snow. Damn, now I have to see it again!

  4. u have 2 love HIS last MOVIE AFTER THE HEART transPLANT. BACKup DIRECTOR WAS babyMAKER OF THE CHICK fr: Snl, PRARIE home HAS SOME WONDERFUL in AROUND up & DOWN CAMERA dances. bur THE ELLIOT gould MARLO MOVIE slow NEvER STILL moveMENT ^& OUT THE window & DOWN chick WALKS in FRONT door ALTMAN player SUNSET towers ACROSS FR: CARNEYtrain.COM. he IS waas CAMERaman, him & STANLEY kubrick. warren & ARNOLD scream @ EA other @ THE polo LOUNGE, GOT 2 give CREDIT 2 annette takes A LOT 2 MANAGE that DUDE.. REMEMBER WHAT his SISTER said ABOUT curioUs ABOUT HER brothers MOJO..

  5. I adore this film and everything by Altman. Just heard the news about Lumet whom I worshipped. Please do somethig on him. By the way, you rock. I adore what you are doing!

  6. Wow, these shots are incredible! I’ve never seen this movie, I’m definitely adding it to the ‘must-see’ list. Now I’m on a hunt to find a bowler hat…

  7. I too love this film. I’m a sucker for wintry, snowbound Westerns, the greatest example of which must be the spaghetti Western The Big Silence, with Jean-Louis Trintignant and Klaus Kinski.

  8. Great movie but the costuming is all wrong. Too much long hair and too many beards.
    The film is set much later than you’d think. The clue as to what time period the movie takes place in is on the wall of the lawyer’s office.

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