McCabe & Mrs. Miller

1971

Action / Drama / Western

37
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 85% · 61 reviews
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 86% · 5K ratings
IMDb Rating 7.6/10 10 27955 28K

Director

Top cast

Shelley Duvall as Ida Coyle
Julie Christie as Constance Miller
Keith Carradine as Cowboy
William Devane as The Lawyer
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU 2160p.BLU.x265
1.09 GB
1280*534
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
2 hr 1 min
Seeds 23
2.02 GB
1920*800
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
2 hr 1 min
Seeds 34
5.04 GB
3840*1604
English 5.1
NR
23.976 fps
2 hr 1 min
Seeds 13

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by evanston_dad 9 / 10

Altman Takes on the Wild West

Robert Altman puts his unique spin on the Western, and gives us a haunting and mournful film, and one of the best in his canon.

Warren Beatty buries himself underneath a bushy beard and an enormous fur coat to play McCabe, an opportunist who considers himself to have much more business savvy than he actually does. He appears in the ramshackle mining town of Presbyterian Church, somewhere in the wilds of Washington state at the turn of the 20th Century, and builds a whorehouse and saloon. Constance Miller (Julie Christie), also sporting her own mound of unkempt hair, arrives a little later and becomes McCabe's business partner. She knows much more about running a whorehouse at a profit, and it quickly becomes clear that she's the brains behind the operation. These two develop a timid affection for one another that's never overtly expressed, but their relationship doesn't have time to prosper, as a trio of hit men arrive to rub out McCabe after he refuses to sell his holdings to a corporation intent on buying him out.

Not surprisingly, considering the director, "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" is a strange film. There are virtually no scenes given to outright plot exposition or to showy acting. Much of the plot is conveyed through asides, casual glances and subtle nuances. Wilderness life is shown in all its unglamorous detail, and many of the normally familiar actors are unrecognizable behind their bad teeth, greasy hair and dirty faces. The harsh environment is a character itself, and few movies have a more memorable ending, with McCabe engaged in a most unconventional shoot out amid waist-high drifts of snow.

Altman is of course interested in debunking the usual Western myths. There are no heroes to be found here. McCabe is a decent enough guy, but he's a bit of a fool, and when the bad guys come calling, he runs and hides. The American frontier depicted here is not a sacred place waiting for brave and noble men to come and realize their dreams. Instead, it's a brutal and dangerous wasteland, in which only the craftiest can survive. The theme of corporate exploitation that pervades the film still rings resoundingly to a present-day audience.

But for all its harshness, "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" is a beautiful film to look at. Vilmos Zsigmond bathes everything in an ethereal light, and if there are images of icy starkness, there are also reverse images of rich warmth, notably those that take place in the whorehouse itself, which ironically becomes much more of a civilizing agent and cultural epicenter for the small town than the church that figures so prominently in other ways.

One of the best from Altman's golden period as a director, and one of the best films to emerge from any director in the 1970s.

Grade: A

Reviewed by gab-14712 9 / 10

One of Many Robert Altman's Masterpieces!

Coming off the unexpected success of M.A.S.H, director Robert Altman decided to do a complete 180 in choosing his next project. As we all know, his first film was a black comedy with themes of war. His next movie, McCabe & Mrs. Miller strays very far from that field. This film is a combination of a Western and a romance film, but in ways you wouldn't expect. This is not a Western in a sense of cowboys and Indians, but about a man struggling to earn a living in the cold doldrums of the Old West. There are hidden themes about love, but this is not a love story although there is a heightened sense of romanticism in the movie. Altman introduced me to his style in the solid, if unspectacular M.A.S.H, but he comes through with this film in a big way.

I very much enjoyed this film. It's one of those slow-burn dramas, but when the time is right, I do enjoy these kind of films that don't heavily rely on action, but instead upon our characters. Speaking of which, Altman delivers an interesting way of developing characterization. As the movie starts, we see the townsfolk whom plays a major role during the entirety of the film. But, we are not introduced to them in the normal sense. Altman wisely refrains from using any monologue with his characters (outside the two main ones) that tell us who they are, what they are doing, where they come from, etc. We, as the audience, must piece together the puzzle ourselves. It's clear the townspeople knew each other for a long time. Each individual is pivotal in the lives of others. It is a master technique that Altman inhibits not only in this film, but in the majority of his films.

Another noticeable trait of the film is the look of the film. There is something about that snowy landscape that gives off a sense of beauty. The film was beautifully shot by legendary cinematographer, Vilmos Zsigmond (who unfortunately passed away only a few weeks ago). His work lives on in this film very much so. The film is beautiful to see with the snow-filled Canadian wilderness, but at the same time Altman gives an intentional dreary look to the film and his characters. The movie makes wonderful use of white, gray, and black to show how unspectacular life is for our characters. Everyone goes about their day in unspectacular fashion. Other than work, there is nothing much to do in this area.

This film is about a businessman named John McCabe (Warren Beatty) who builds himself a whorehouse in this remote Western town. The town is predominantly male, and women are hard to come by so this is the perfect investment for McCabe. Soon after he builds his whorehouse and tavern, a mistress named Mrs. Miller (Julie Christie) arrives offering herself to become McCabe's business partner in his booming business. She promises to handle the business side of things because she has expertise in that field. Soon after her arrival, several businessmen arrive in town wanting to buy McCabe's business. The stake of the town and even his life depends on the answer of McCabe.

There is a trend I've noticed in American films from the 1970's. They hardly ever rely upon a huge cast of big names, and that rings true in this film. The only big names at the time of this film's release were Warren Beatty and Julie Christie. This came out during an era where names led to a movie's success. Anyhow, they were both phenomenal in the movie. The chemistry shared between the two is excellent, and the aura they possess when it's only just one of them on screen magnifies their performances. McCabe is dim-witted when it comes to business, and I love how Mrs. Miller changes that.

Another interesting item about the film is the music. Unlike films at the time, it doesn't have a score to use. Instead, it uses three haunting Leonard Cohen songs that helps with the story. The soundtrack is another reason why this film works. They are haunting songs, but at the same time they are beautiful songs.

The film has a depressing feel though its duration, and sometimes I found myself searching for happiness in the movie. Right away, I knew what the tone would be as McCabe introduces himself to the town during a game of poker and finds he has a reputation of killing a man. Then there is the scene where this random kid (played by a young Keith Carradine) gets himself killed just because he couldn't stay out of trouble. He knew he was going to be killed and he tried to postpone his murder by adapting a cheerful attitude, but it didn't work. This town features a Presbyterian Church, which plays a prominent role in the plot and in the ending, where there is a cat-and-mouse shootout.

McCabe and Mrs. Miller is an excellent film and one of Altman's masterpieces. I loved how the story took its time to get rolling and I got the feeling I knew these characters as if they're real-life people. That should be the goal of every single movie, no matter the premise. The movie is very beautiful to look at, but I also get a sense of sadness because there is no happiness to be found in the movie. There is a lot of dreariness, but it's important for the kind of story being told. I had a heavy heart at times, but I still liked this movie very, very much.

My Grade: A-

Reviewed by TheLittleSongbird 10 / 10

One of Robert Altman's best

While Robert Altman can be hit and miss, McCabe and Mrs Miller is one of his hits. But it is more than just a hit, it is a masterpiece. I can understand why people mayn't quite adjust to the sombre tone and the slow pacing, but I don't consider either of these flaws in any way. McCabe and Mrs Miller, although it does have a fine story, great direction, a very good script and well realised characters, it is more a mood piece than anything else, and the mood is really quite haunting. And I think the pacing is deliberate and suits the tone of the film wonderfully. The film looks stunning, with great cinematography and production values and the Leonard Cohen soundtrack compliments the film perfectly. In terms of effective scenes, for me the famous bridge scene and the climax resonate with me most, and Warren Beatty and Julie Christie are superb. Overall, a fine film and one of Altman's best. 10/10 Bethany Cox

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