Altman masterful take on the American western comes to Blu Ray in the UK at long last. Presbyterian Church is a mining town in the wilds. It is cold and snow drenched. The sort of place you would avoid unless you were desperate or despicable. It is also soon to be the home of gambler John Q McCabe (Warren Beatty). He has come to find a fortune not from extracting from the ground but from the men of the town. When he meets Constance Miller (Julie Christie) it seems like a match made in heaven. What it ends up being is a match made in hell…
Altman’s career was reaching its zenith as he rolled on McCabe. Now you should try to forget while watching, the onset nightmares between Beatty and Altman. One was a perfectionist, the other was an experimenter. The two together made a masterpiece but also hated each other. Christie is exceptional as Miller but then also her legend was dragged through the mud about this film. It is hard to distance the situation from the screen but try you must to enjoy it. Its a western and a stand out from the great American new wave. Its a significant genre film and a savage revisionism on the legacy of the west as a utopia. Its filled with truths that are harsh but handled with subtly and wit.
The remaster is excellent. Be it against the DVD or even the projected version of this film I saw ten years back. It is warm but allows that light to shine and the whites to be big and enveloping. The documentary is a miss for me. It feels a little over played and the focus misses the real talking points. The audio commentary has been seen before but is always worthy of time. Altman makes the film come alive like no other. I have the US Criterion and that has a better documentary on it.
Feature-length Audio Commentary by Director Robert Altman and Producer David Foster