McCabe and Mrs. Miller

We’re coming up to October 2015, winter is coming. One of the great films to watch in winter is Robert Altman’s McCabe and Mrs.Miller. It’s my favourite film by Altman, it’s also Julie Christies’ best film and the one truly great performance by Warren Beatty.

It’s dreamy and beautiful; it’s also a great western, but an anti-western, a revisionist piece.

What’s famous about this great film is that the sound in the early part of the film is muffled, and it puts many people off. Back in the days of video I remember watching the film on VHS and not being able to hear anything properly for the first fifteen minutes. It put Tarantino off for years too, he kept turning it off.

I’d advise that you stick with it. The sound does improve, and Altman’s trademark multi conversational soundtrack soon starts to pay dividends. The photography is great too, and it’s a film of great supporting parts.

McCabe himself is a blowhard, an idiot and desperately in love with someone who is far brighter and a lot tougher than himself. However, McCabe does show guts in the end.

The end for me is one of the great endings in western cinema, a shootout that takes place during a genuinely cold looking snow storm.

Famously, while editing, Altman and his editor stuck a temp track of Lenard Cohen songs on the film, and in the end, they decided to keep them. The music is an odd choice, but finally a treat.

One of the greatest films of the 1970s.

So, 76 films to go…

Matthew Cooper has written for Emmerdale, Eastenders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs. He was winner of the first ever Lloyds Bank Channel Four Film Challenge and the Oscar Moore Screenplay Prize. His first short film starred a then unknown Ewan McGregor and was picked up by Channel Four when Matthew was 19 years old. He’s been a script writer for hire and filmmaker for hire for over 20 years.