Thursday, February 13, 2014

McCabe & Mrs. Miller

(spoilers herein) An arrogant cardsharp (Warren Beatty) opens a gambling joint in an upstart western mining city so young that it barely has the frames of its houses filled it. When a beautiful, classy prostitute (Julie Christie) convinces him he needs her expertise to oversee his whorehouse, he finds in her both a business partner and an awkward lover. However, when his bustling operation comes to the attention of a large mining company, whose negotiating agents he refuses to play ball with, McCabe finds his livelihood and personal well being in the hands of a ruthless band of mercenaries. With its beautifully lit photography, very human performances from Beatty and Christie, and a screenplay interested foremost in the sociological behavior of its characters, Robert Altman's McCabe & Mrs. Miller is a western that is so distinct and well-defined, it places itself in a class apart from other entries in the genre. It also features several haunting icy demises, namely the finale and Keith Carradine's senseless, unforgettable rope bridge execution.