Robert Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller
Warren Beatty and Julie Christie star in the American revisionist western McCabe & Mrs. Miller that was directed by Robert Altman. The film is based on the 1959 novel, McCabe, which was written by Edmund Naughton. Distributed by Warner Bros. The film is 121 minutes long and grossed approximately $8,200,000 at the box office.
Because Robert Altman Loved Leonard Cohen’s first album so much, he approached him to do music for the films soundtrack. Leonard Cohen agreed and made a deal with his record company so that Altman could have the rights to the music he made for the film. The three songs that became part of the soundtrack of McCabe & Mrs. Miller were Sisters of Mercy; The Stranger Song and Winter Lady.
Story of John McCabe and Mrs Miller
McCabe & Mrs. Miller is a story about John McCabe, played by Warren Beatty, who enters the mining town of Presbyterian Church, named after the main building of the town. He becomes a major influence in town due to rumours that he is a gunfighter. After opening a cheap brothel in town Julie Christie’s character, Constance Miller, offers to run the brothel for him.
The two develop a love interest while their business becomes successful and soon they are able to afford expanding their business to more upmarket establishments. The prospering town comes to the attention of Harrison Shaughnessy, a mining company from the nearby town called Bearpaw. They send two agents, Sears and Hollander to buy out the businesses and the local mines. McCabe refuses their offer but Constance knows that they won’t take no for answer.
The Climax of the Film
The Mining Company then sends three bounty hunters to kill McCabe and scare the locals into submission, but McCabe still refuses to leave. At first he tries to intimidate the bounty hunters by telling them that he is a gunfighter, but they do not believe him. McCabe then tries to settle with the agents for the original price but they have already left. His only option left is to seek legal help in stopping the company’s domination in the area.
McCabe realises that a battle with the bounty hunters is unavoidable, he arms himself and hides in the church. During the ensuing gunfight the church catches fire and the townspeople rush to extinguish the flames. During this time he stalks and kills two of the bounty hunters. When he finds the third, he is mortally wounded but manages to kill the last bounty hunter before dying.
The Reception and Success of the Film
McCabe & Mrs. Miller, at first, was not praised as highly as it has been in the later years where it has received critical acclaim and made it to the top ten in the AFI’s classic American film genre in 2008. In 2010, the film was chosen to be preserved in the American National Film Registry for being culturally, aesthetically and historically significant.
Julie Christie was nominated for her performance in McCabe & Mrs. Miller. The film also received nominations for best cinematography at the British Academy Film Awards and at the Writers Guild of America, the screenplay received a nomination.