Nashville


2h 40m 1975
Nashville

Brief Synopsis

Country music stars get caught up in tangled affairs and an independent's political campaign.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Musical
Release Date
1975

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 40m
Sound
Stereo
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

During a long weekend the mid-1970s, twenty-four very different people cross paths on the streets of Nashville. Everyone has a dream in the home of country music including waitresses, country stars and wannabes.

Crew

Robert Altman

Music Lyrics

Robert Altman

Music

Robert Altman

Producer

Steve Altman

Production Assistant

Bob Anderson

Property Master

Arlene Barnett

Music

Arlene Barnett

Music Lyrics

Jonnie Barnett

Music Lyrics

Jonnie Barnett

Music

Avis Barnett And The Barnetts

Song Performer

Richard Baskin

Music Lyrics

Richard Baskin

Music Supervisor

Richard Baskin

Music

Richard Baskin

Music Arranger

Karen Black

Music Lyrics

Karen Black

Music

Ronee Blakley

Music

Ronee Blakley

Music Lyrics

Elaine Dibello Bradish

Production Secretary

Gary Busey

Music Lyrics

Gary Busey

Music

Scott Bushnell

Associate Producer

Keith Carradine

Music

Keith Carradine

Music Lyrics

Jac Cashin

Assistant

Millie Clements

Music Arranger

Angel Dominguez

Production Assistant

Mark Eggenweiler

Production Assistant

Robert Eggenweiler

Associate Producer

Gene Eichelberger

Music

Roger Frappier

Production Associate

Henry Gibson

Music Lyrics

Henry Gibson

Music

Randy Glass

Gaffer

Juan Grizzle

Music Lyrics

Juan Grizzle

Music

Ron Hecht

Production Assistant

Allan Highfill

Production Assistant

Dennis M Hill

Editor

Maysie Hoy

Production Assistant

Randy Kelley

Assistant

Joyce King

Script Supervisor

Ed Koons

Camera Operator

Eddie Lara

Grip

Sidney Levin

Editor

Paul Lohmann

Director Of Photography

Tony Lombardo

Assistant Editor

Mike Marlett

Gaffer

Kelly Marshall

Production Coordinator

Chris Mclaughlin

Sound

Jules Melillo

Wardrobe

Allan Nicholls

Music Lyrics

Allan Nicholls

Music

David Peel

Music Lyrics

David Peel

Music

Dan Perri

Titles

Thomas Hal Phillips

Other

Richard Portman

Sound Re-Recording Mixer

Ben Raleigh

Music Lyrics

Ben Raleigh

Music

Joe Raposo

Music

Joe Raposo

Music Lyrics

Richard Reicheg

Music Lyrics

Richard Reicheg

Music

Harry Rez

Grip

Johnny Rosen

Music

Alan Rudolph

Assistant Director

William A. Sawyer

Sound Editor

Martin Starger

Executive Producer

Joan Tewkesbury

Screenplay

Tommy Thompson

Makeup

Tommy Thompson

Assistant Director

Lily Tomlin

Music

Lily Tomlin

Music Lyrics

Ann Wadington

Hair Stylist

Tom Walls

Assistant Editor

James E Webb

Sound

Jerry Weintraub

Executive Producer

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Musical
Release Date
1975

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 40m
Sound
Stereo
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Award Wins

Best Song

1975

Award Nominations

Best Director

1975

Best Picture

1975

Best Supporting Actress

1975
Lily Tomlin

Articles

Nashville on Criterion Blu-ray


No American director of the 1970s splits critical opinion like Robert Altman. Boosters regard him as the most original and independent of the batch of studio directors that (briefly) enjoyed the power to initiate and control projects with minimal corporate oversight. They see his film sets as fertile gardens of inspiration that allowed actors to shape the characters they play, with Altman supplying guidance and limits. Detractors charge Altman with permitting his large-scale ensemble shows to devolve into shapeless, diffuse mob scenes that expend a lot of energy without making a coherent point.

That criticism best applies to what might be called Robert Altman 'party' movies, the ones with large casts and generalized themes: Buffalo Bill and the Indians, Health, A Wedding, Dr. T and the Women. Altman's famous M*A*S*H and The Player may look loose but they're rigidly constructed by comparison. Altman's late career film Godsford Park has a big cast but it tightly scripted. The watershed picture is 1975's Nashville, a sprawling tale with several dozen major speaking parts and no dominant central character. The lengthy picture does without anything resembling a plot line. We instead watch as Altman's legion of characters meet, greet, interact, argue, cheat on their partners and con one another. The setting is the home of Country Music, an institution given about as much respect as pro wrestling; the competitive world of the Grand Ole Opry is positioned as a microcosm of America itself.

What follows is merely the barest description of the roles and relationships in Nashville. Singing stars, their hangers-on and the eccentric hopefuls descend on Nashville, Tennessee. Diva Barbara Jean (Ronee Blakley) arrives by plane with her nervous manager-husband Barnett (Allen Garfield) and almost immediately lands in the hospital with a nervous breakdown. Star Haven Hamilton (Henry Gibson) behaves as behooves his demi-god status in the Country pantheon, and supports Barbara Jean while promoting his own celebrity. Haven's cynical mistress Lady Pearl (Barbara Baxley) resents being surrounded by politically ignorant non-Catholics. Famous singer Connie White (Karen Black) comes off as not very bright and painfully gullible, yet presents a carefully modulated image for her fans. Gospel singer Linnea Reese (Lily Tomlin) dotes on her two deaf children, while her philandering husband Del (Ned Beatty) works overtime trying to make deals. The rock trio Bill, Mary and Tom (Allan F. Nicholls, Cristina Raines & Keith Carradine) come to town to record. Mary is Bill's wife but she has become Tom's lover and the group is near breaking up. Constantly hitting on women, Tom phones Linnea for a hook-up. Del is busy conspiring with political contact man John Triplette (Michael Murphy) to sign up major talent for a public appearance by the wildcat "Replacement Party" Presidential hopeful Hall Philip Walker. The candidate is not seen but his annoying campaign truck cruises Nashville, broadcasting Walker's conservative speeches. Many others figure tangentially in the action. Waitress Sueleen Gay (Gwen Welles) is set on a singing career despite having no talent; plain spoken restaurant owner Wade (Robert DoQui) is the only man honest enough to tell her the truth. Wade is also not impressed by black country star Tommy Brown (Timothy Brown), who is more conservative than the rednecks in town. Obnoxious Brit Opal (Geraldine Chaplin) claims to be with the BBC but shows appalling manners and insensitivity while pursuing celebrities with her tape recorder. The sick wife of elderly Mr. Green (Keenan Wynn) is on the same hospital floor as Barbara Jean. He meets Private Glenn Kelly (Scott Glenn), who seems nice but is definitely stalking Barbara Jean. Mr. Green's niece L.A. Joan (Shelley Duvall) is a determined groupie who abuses her uncle's hospitality and sleeps with several men on a casual basis. "Tricycle Man" (Jeff Goldblum) dresses oddly, rides a modified Harley and performs magic tricks. Addled runaway Albuquerque (Barbara Harris) is yet another hopeful convinced she has a future as a country star. She tries to crash exclusive backstage areas and proves an ongoing nuisance.

The director with the largest and most loyal stock company of the golden '70s, Robert Altman exerted full control over his films while making his actors feel as if they had been freed from directorial restraint. For Altman casting is everything, and he collected quite a stable about him. Nashville can't afford stars but has representatives of every step of his career since leaving Kansas. Barbara Baxley starred in Altman's forgotten science fiction film Countdown, Keith Carradine had a plum role in McCabe & Mrs. Miller, and so forth. Some of the actor/role linkups are refreshing. Former TV comedienne Lily Tomlin makes a impressive dramatic film debut, while big stars Elliott Gould and Julie Christie drop by for amusing cameos. Karen Black's Connie White doesn't believe that Christie could be a star: "Oh come on. She can't even comb her hair."

Just the same, Altman consistently casts to type, a habit that works only when we agree with his taste and sense of humor. Ned Beatty is a chatty blowhard, Keith Carradine an ultra-cool ladykiller, Allen Garfield abrasive and uptight, Scott Glenn a true-blue soldier, and Michael Murphy a glad-handing political operative. Keenan Wynn is pulled in to play a sweet old guy whose life seems built on disappointment, and Robert DoQui has an interesting part with unexpected depth. But Altman also plays the Federico Fellini game, filling the screen with superfluous characters. Jeff Goldblum's silly kook is present just to up the on-screen freak quotient.

Robert Altman's actresses praise him, which is surprising considering the kinds of dimwits and harpies he creates for his films. The director's marvelous discovery Shelley Duvall is called on to portray a grotesquely promiscuous groupie. Gwen Welles is a ditz so confused by her sad attempt to become a star that she falls back on a striptease to obtain at least some kind of approval. Geraldine Chaplin's (fake?) BBC reporter is clearly meant to represent the celebrity-mad excesses of the media, but the role still comes off as criminal cruelty to a fine actress. Altman snagged the services of big star Karen Black for just one week, only to make her singing celebrity seem both embarrassingly clueless and narcissistic. Authentic Actual singing performer Ronee Blakley plays an unstable Loretta Lynn type, an emotional wreck 'hollowed out' by a profession that requires absurd displays of folksy insincerity. Her personality is so out of control that she believes she's some kind of goddess; her husband Barnett works overtime holding her together.

We learn more about Robert Altman's shooting style through the extensive interviews on Criterion's disc. Large scenes with scores of characters were filmed with multiple cameras. Using lessons learned in films like California Split, Altman had each of his actors individually mike'd for sound. This allowed him to stage complex chunks of group action, and sort things out later in post-production. Actors report that they were given essential cues to hit but were otherwise told to 'do what they wanted'. Michael Murphy explained that when he asked permission to try something, he was told to 'just do it' and not waste time in discussion. The scenes obtained with this kind of semi-improvisation were greatly changed in the editing room; having discrete audio for each speaker and all those angles allowed Altman to pare things back down to the basics of Tewkesbury's screenplay, or to expand the input of individual characters at will. In this way Altman did a lot of his directing in the editorial suite. It's possible that Karen Black's part is so small because Altman didn't see her doing a great many interesting things. Some actors appear to have been given one bit of business in lieu of direction. Allen Garfield falls back on a stock phrase about being busy, Geraldine Chaplin chirps that she's with the BBC, and Barbara Harris prattles on about a fly swatter with a Red Spot. On the other hand, it must be admitted that we are able to keep track of an unusually large number of characters; Altman has a highly developed skill for bringing clarity out of clutter.

Did some things slip through Altman's freestyle improvisation method? Cristina Raines' Mary is an attractive, sympathetic singer deeply in love with Keith Carradine's Tom. It is frustrating when Mary's story fails to develop. To tell us how much she loves Tom, Mary simply chants, "I love you" six or seven times. This same dialogue is used in the classic musical Singin' in the Rain to satirize bad moviemaking.

Altman's aim is to create a cynic's melting pot of American types, a group of caricatures that will reveal the 'truth' about the country circa 1975. What we see is a lot of selfish and narcissistic behavior that makes us think that Country Music is a magnet for shallow and cruel people. Like or dislike the Grand Ole Opry culture, it can't possibly have the contempt for people shown here. Altman even said that Country Music fans are not likely to be pleased, and they weren't. Elia Kazan's A Face in the Crowd used its "Good Ol' Boy" media personality to push a warning about star worship and political demagoguery. Altman's comic satire switches gears to seriousness and suddenly wants us to accept it as a profound statement about "America."

Various actors were encouraged to contribute their own songs for the film, some of them in concert with music supervisor Richard Baskin. Thus we have the work of Henry Gibson, whose grossly overdone caricature of an odious singing star also comes with bush league non-songs about empty patriotism. Karen Black's song is actually not at all bad -- it's as if Ms. Black were given the opportunity to be Tammy Wynette, an odd link back to her memorable performance idolizing the singer in Five Easy Pieces. Keith Carradine's folk-rock tunes are passable, if lightweight. They make us think of the marvelous Leonard Cohen tunes that graced and informed Altman's atmospheric McCabe and Mrs. Miller. Proving that Altman's entourage believed its own hype, Alan Rudolph and Baskin would immediately extend Keith Carradine's role as a 'singing legend' in Welcome to L.A..

Beyond the stylings of professional performer Ronee Blakley, Altman's picture is at its weakest when its Country stars can't put across a tune. And stacking up some loaded lyrics ("It Don't Worry Me", "200 Years") doesn't take the place of real social criticism. Neither does filling his soundtrack with the conservative blathering of the unseen Dark Horse candidate Hal Philip Walker. When in doubt, Altman cuts to the politician's public address truck as it cruises the city. It serves the same editorial function as the public address system from Altman's monster hit M*A*S*H'.

Altman turns Nashville, Tennessee into a broad-canvas "Where's Waldo" mural, jamming as many of his actors into as many scenes as is humanly possible. Joan Tewkesbury's screenplay lopes from one giant set piece to the next, most of which involve at least twenty characters -- a multi-car freeway pileup, recording sessions, club night performances, The Grand Ole Opry, an amateur night that becomes a strip show. For some, Nashville is a transcendent experience, a portrait of a sick America in need of the healing power of communal consensus. Others see it as far less profound. The sudden violence that ends the film plays like a student film, an attempt to lend closure to a loose collection of character sketches.

The much-praised final scene involves a shooting at a political rally. Barbara Harris' character Albuquerque stems the panic and chaos by snatching up a microphone and galvanizing the stunned audience with her voice. Albuquerque was previously seen as a pathetic fan, but now she delivers the film's most powerful performance. For many it succeeds as a call for Americans to "all pull together" to erase political differences. For others the entire exercise rings hollow, falling back on waving flags and emotional grandstanding.

Nashville was the recipient of a huge critical boost from the then- dominant Pauline Kael, who lavished praise on certain directors (Bertolucci, Peckinpah). The influential critic was partially responsible for keeping Altman's career afloat through the 1970s. We're told that Paramount was not bullish on Nashville until Altman forced their hand by pre-screening it for Kael, who proceeded to 'pre-review' it in print, calling it a masterpiece even before it was finished. The resulting media hubbub made Nashville a must-see picture. It's now a touchstone movie for the Altman fans that enjoy the improvisational free-for-alls of his lively stock company.

Criterion's Blu-ray + DVD of Nashville is a deluxe offering that makes this "intimate epic" a fascinating study of a director with a wholly distinctive style. The newly restored HD image is in fine shape, showing just how well cameraman Paul Lohman follows focus with Altman's standard long lenses. The film's original four-track stereo has been remixed to 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio.

The Dual-Format edition contains all of the extras in both Blu-ray (1 disc) and Standard def DVD (2 discs). Robert Altman is heard on a full audio commentary, while archival interviews show him relaxed and candid about his film. A thorough and comprehensive new documentary has input from assistant director Alan Rudolph, screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury and actors Allan Nichols, Michael Murphy, Lily Tomlin and Keith Carradine. We also see BTS footage from the set, and a demo audition of Keith Carradine singing his songs. A trailer finishes the disc extras. In the insert booklet film critic Molly Haskell finds almost as many words of praise for Nashville as did Pauline Kael.

With valued assistance from correspondent Shaun K. Chang.


By Glenn Erickson
Nashville On Criterion Blu-Ray

Nashville on Criterion Blu-ray

No American director of the 1970s splits critical opinion like Robert Altman. Boosters regard him as the most original and independent of the batch of studio directors that (briefly) enjoyed the power to initiate and control projects with minimal corporate oversight. They see his film sets as fertile gardens of inspiration that allowed actors to shape the characters they play, with Altman supplying guidance and limits. Detractors charge Altman with permitting his large-scale ensemble shows to devolve into shapeless, diffuse mob scenes that expend a lot of energy without making a coherent point. That criticism best applies to what might be called Robert Altman 'party' movies, the ones with large casts and generalized themes: Buffalo Bill and the Indians, Health, A Wedding, Dr. T and the Women. Altman's famous M*A*S*H and The Player may look loose but they're rigidly constructed by comparison. Altman's late career film Godsford Park has a big cast but it tightly scripted. The watershed picture is 1975's Nashville, a sprawling tale with several dozen major speaking parts and no dominant central character. The lengthy picture does without anything resembling a plot line. We instead watch as Altman's legion of characters meet, greet, interact, argue, cheat on their partners and con one another. The setting is the home of Country Music, an institution given about as much respect as pro wrestling; the competitive world of the Grand Ole Opry is positioned as a microcosm of America itself. What follows is merely the barest description of the roles and relationships in Nashville. Singing stars, their hangers-on and the eccentric hopefuls descend on Nashville, Tennessee. Diva Barbara Jean (Ronee Blakley) arrives by plane with her nervous manager-husband Barnett (Allen Garfield) and almost immediately lands in the hospital with a nervous breakdown. Star Haven Hamilton (Henry Gibson) behaves as behooves his demi-god status in the Country pantheon, and supports Barbara Jean while promoting his own celebrity. Haven's cynical mistress Lady Pearl (Barbara Baxley) resents being surrounded by politically ignorant non-Catholics. Famous singer Connie White (Karen Black) comes off as not very bright and painfully gullible, yet presents a carefully modulated image for her fans. Gospel singer Linnea Reese (Lily Tomlin) dotes on her two deaf children, while her philandering husband Del (Ned Beatty) works overtime trying to make deals. The rock trio Bill, Mary and Tom (Allan F. Nicholls, Cristina Raines & Keith Carradine) come to town to record. Mary is Bill's wife but she has become Tom's lover and the group is near breaking up. Constantly hitting on women, Tom phones Linnea for a hook-up. Del is busy conspiring with political contact man John Triplette (Michael Murphy) to sign up major talent for a public appearance by the wildcat "Replacement Party" Presidential hopeful Hall Philip Walker. The candidate is not seen but his annoying campaign truck cruises Nashville, broadcasting Walker's conservative speeches. Many others figure tangentially in the action. Waitress Sueleen Gay (Gwen Welles) is set on a singing career despite having no talent; plain spoken restaurant owner Wade (Robert DoQui) is the only man honest enough to tell her the truth. Wade is also not impressed by black country star Tommy Brown (Timothy Brown), who is more conservative than the rednecks in town. Obnoxious Brit Opal (Geraldine Chaplin) claims to be with the BBC but shows appalling manners and insensitivity while pursuing celebrities with her tape recorder. The sick wife of elderly Mr. Green (Keenan Wynn) is on the same hospital floor as Barbara Jean. He meets Private Glenn Kelly (Scott Glenn), who seems nice but is definitely stalking Barbara Jean. Mr. Green's niece L.A. Joan (Shelley Duvall) is a determined groupie who abuses her uncle's hospitality and sleeps with several men on a casual basis. "Tricycle Man" (Jeff Goldblum) dresses oddly, rides a modified Harley and performs magic tricks. Addled runaway Albuquerque (Barbara Harris) is yet another hopeful convinced she has a future as a country star. She tries to crash exclusive backstage areas and proves an ongoing nuisance. The director with the largest and most loyal stock company of the golden '70s, Robert Altman exerted full control over his films while making his actors feel as if they had been freed from directorial restraint. For Altman casting is everything, and he collected quite a stable about him. Nashville can't afford stars but has representatives of every step of his career since leaving Kansas. Barbara Baxley starred in Altman's forgotten science fiction film Countdown, Keith Carradine had a plum role in McCabe & Mrs. Miller, and so forth. Some of the actor/role linkups are refreshing. Former TV comedienne Lily Tomlin makes a impressive dramatic film debut, while big stars Elliott Gould and Julie Christie drop by for amusing cameos. Karen Black's Connie White doesn't believe that Christie could be a star: "Oh come on. She can't even comb her hair." Just the same, Altman consistently casts to type, a habit that works only when we agree with his taste and sense of humor. Ned Beatty is a chatty blowhard, Keith Carradine an ultra-cool ladykiller, Allen Garfield abrasive and uptight, Scott Glenn a true-blue soldier, and Michael Murphy a glad-handing political operative. Keenan Wynn is pulled in to play a sweet old guy whose life seems built on disappointment, and Robert DoQui has an interesting part with unexpected depth. But Altman also plays the Federico Fellini game, filling the screen with superfluous characters. Jeff Goldblum's silly kook is present just to up the on-screen freak quotient. Robert Altman's actresses praise him, which is surprising considering the kinds of dimwits and harpies he creates for his films. The director's marvelous discovery Shelley Duvall is called on to portray a grotesquely promiscuous groupie. Gwen Welles is a ditz so confused by her sad attempt to become a star that she falls back on a striptease to obtain at least some kind of approval. Geraldine Chaplin's (fake?) BBC reporter is clearly meant to represent the celebrity-mad excesses of the media, but the role still comes off as criminal cruelty to a fine actress. Altman snagged the services of big star Karen Black for just one week, only to make her singing celebrity seem both embarrassingly clueless and narcissistic. Authentic Actual singing performer Ronee Blakley plays an unstable Loretta Lynn type, an emotional wreck 'hollowed out' by a profession that requires absurd displays of folksy insincerity. Her personality is so out of control that she believes she's some kind of goddess; her husband Barnett works overtime holding her together. We learn more about Robert Altman's shooting style through the extensive interviews on Criterion's disc. Large scenes with scores of characters were filmed with multiple cameras. Using lessons learned in films like California Split, Altman had each of his actors individually mike'd for sound. This allowed him to stage complex chunks of group action, and sort things out later in post-production. Actors report that they were given essential cues to hit but were otherwise told to 'do what they wanted'. Michael Murphy explained that when he asked permission to try something, he was told to 'just do it' and not waste time in discussion. The scenes obtained with this kind of semi-improvisation were greatly changed in the editing room; having discrete audio for each speaker and all those angles allowed Altman to pare things back down to the basics of Tewkesbury's screenplay, or to expand the input of individual characters at will. In this way Altman did a lot of his directing in the editorial suite. It's possible that Karen Black's part is so small because Altman didn't see her doing a great many interesting things. Some actors appear to have been given one bit of business in lieu of direction. Allen Garfield falls back on a stock phrase about being busy, Geraldine Chaplin chirps that she's with the BBC, and Barbara Harris prattles on about a fly swatter with a Red Spot. On the other hand, it must be admitted that we are able to keep track of an unusually large number of characters; Altman has a highly developed skill for bringing clarity out of clutter. Did some things slip through Altman's freestyle improvisation method? Cristina Raines' Mary is an attractive, sympathetic singer deeply in love with Keith Carradine's Tom. It is frustrating when Mary's story fails to develop. To tell us how much she loves Tom, Mary simply chants, "I love you" six or seven times. This same dialogue is used in the classic musical Singin' in the Rain to satirize bad moviemaking. Altman's aim is to create a cynic's melting pot of American types, a group of caricatures that will reveal the 'truth' about the country circa 1975. What we see is a lot of selfish and narcissistic behavior that makes us think that Country Music is a magnet for shallow and cruel people. Like or dislike the Grand Ole Opry culture, it can't possibly have the contempt for people shown here. Altman even said that Country Music fans are not likely to be pleased, and they weren't. Elia Kazan's A Face in the Crowd used its "Good Ol' Boy" media personality to push a warning about star worship and political demagoguery. Altman's comic satire switches gears to seriousness and suddenly wants us to accept it as a profound statement about "America." Various actors were encouraged to contribute their own songs for the film, some of them in concert with music supervisor Richard Baskin. Thus we have the work of Henry Gibson, whose grossly overdone caricature of an odious singing star also comes with bush league non-songs about empty patriotism. Karen Black's song is actually not at all bad -- it's as if Ms. Black were given the opportunity to be Tammy Wynette, an odd link back to her memorable performance idolizing the singer in Five Easy Pieces. Keith Carradine's folk-rock tunes are passable, if lightweight. They make us think of the marvelous Leonard Cohen tunes that graced and informed Altman's atmospheric McCabe and Mrs. Miller. Proving that Altman's entourage believed its own hype, Alan Rudolph and Baskin would immediately extend Keith Carradine's role as a 'singing legend' in Welcome to L.A.. Beyond the stylings of professional performer Ronee Blakley, Altman's picture is at its weakest when its Country stars can't put across a tune. And stacking up some loaded lyrics ("It Don't Worry Me", "200 Years") doesn't take the place of real social criticism. Neither does filling his soundtrack with the conservative blathering of the unseen Dark Horse candidate Hal Philip Walker. When in doubt, Altman cuts to the politician's public address truck as it cruises the city. It serves the same editorial function as the public address system from Altman's monster hit M*A*S*H'. Altman turns Nashville, Tennessee into a broad-canvas "Where's Waldo" mural, jamming as many of his actors into as many scenes as is humanly possible. Joan Tewkesbury's screenplay lopes from one giant set piece to the next, most of which involve at least twenty characters -- a multi-car freeway pileup, recording sessions, club night performances, The Grand Ole Opry, an amateur night that becomes a strip show. For some, Nashville is a transcendent experience, a portrait of a sick America in need of the healing power of communal consensus. Others see it as far less profound. The sudden violence that ends the film plays like a student film, an attempt to lend closure to a loose collection of character sketches. The much-praised final scene involves a shooting at a political rally. Barbara Harris' character Albuquerque stems the panic and chaos by snatching up a microphone and galvanizing the stunned audience with her voice. Albuquerque was previously seen as a pathetic fan, but now she delivers the film's most powerful performance. For many it succeeds as a call for Americans to "all pull together" to erase political differences. For others the entire exercise rings hollow, falling back on waving flags and emotional grandstanding. Nashville was the recipient of a huge critical boost from the then- dominant Pauline Kael, who lavished praise on certain directors (Bertolucci, Peckinpah). The influential critic was partially responsible for keeping Altman's career afloat through the 1970s. We're told that Paramount was not bullish on Nashville until Altman forced their hand by pre-screening it for Kael, who proceeded to 'pre-review' it in print, calling it a masterpiece even before it was finished. The resulting media hubbub made Nashville a must-see picture. It's now a touchstone movie for the Altman fans that enjoy the improvisational free-for-alls of his lively stock company. Criterion's Blu-ray + DVD of Nashville is a deluxe offering that makes this "intimate epic" a fascinating study of a director with a wholly distinctive style. The newly restored HD image is in fine shape, showing just how well cameraman Paul Lohman follows focus with Altman's standard long lenses. The film's original four-track stereo has been remixed to 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio. The Dual-Format edition contains all of the extras in both Blu-ray (1 disc) and Standard def DVD (2 discs). Robert Altman is heard on a full audio commentary, while archival interviews show him relaxed and candid about his film. A thorough and comprehensive new documentary has input from assistant director Alan Rudolph, screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury and actors Allan Nichols, Michael Murphy, Lily Tomlin and Keith Carradine. We also see BTS footage from the set, and a demo audition of Keith Carradine singing his songs. A trailer finishes the disc extras. In the insert booklet film critic Molly Haskell finds almost as many words of praise for Nashville as did Pauline Kael. With valued assistance from correspondent Shaun K. Chang. By Glenn Erickson

Nashville


Robert Altman's film Nashville premiered in New York on June 11, 1975 - exactly halfway between President Nixon's resignation and the start of the United States' Bicentennial year - and its timing could not have been more appropriate.

On the surface, the film is about a country music festival in Nashville that coincides with a presidential campaign and the twenty-four different characters whose lives intermingle during the festival's five days. Interpretations of the film's meaning have been as numerous as the critics themselves, but director Altman has said that while the film is set in Nashville and the country music scene, it's really a film about American politics. Nashville was "a place where people get off the bus, like Hollywood was many years ago. The money is generated and there's a crudeness to the culture. It just seems like the proper place for me to be able to equate the analogy of our elected officials and politicians - which in many ways, I think, is a popularity contest - with the success of country and western music. As I say, eventually it's just a way of melding a whole view, my view, of the political climate in America today". Longtime Altman associate and Nashville screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury said, "Part of Nashville was because he hated what Richard Nixon was doing to the country. I'll never forget the image - when we were walking down the street the morning after Nixon had been elected again [in 1972]. There had been a huge windstorm the night before, and all of these umbrellas were turned inside out. And he said, 'The world is mourning. We've lost because Nixon has won.' He was really angry about that." Twenty-five years later, Altman looked back at the making of Nashville "I felt we were doing something that had the potential of being terrific. I had complete artistic freedom in this; I had nobody - nobody - saying you had to do this or do that....We had the framework, which was the city of Nashville, and I had the music as the through line. Then, you've got to understand that at that time everybody was politically charged - one way or another. So when they found out we were free to express these...attitudes, everybody became very creative."

Nashville was originally offered to United Artists but they put off making a financial commitment and it was eventually passed on to Paramount. The starting money was provided by ABC so that their record company could release the soundtrack album. The final budget was a mere $2 million and, incredibly, the film was shot in only 45 days. With such a small budget, the actors were all offered the same salary - somewhere between $750 and $1,000 a week. Most, like Geraldine Chaplin, were happy to take the pay cut. According to Patrick McGilligan in his book Robert Altman: Jumping Off the Cliff, "Geraldine Chaplin said she turned down a $130,000 role in London in order to fly to the Altman set for her one-of-the-crowd billing. 'In Europe', she said, 'Altman is number one'. Lily Tomlin told Carol Burnett she would be more fulfilled, as an actress, with a walk-on in any Altman movie than with a lead role in most others...The Altman troupe were iconoclasts or independents, unknown quantities in motion pictures, new names, stand-up improvisers and small theater people, television people imprisoned by a boob-tube image, foreign stars whose casting would never have been cheered by a U.S. film company."

Not everyone was willing to work for less. Robert Duvall had been Altman's first choice for Haven Hamilton, but his salary demands were too high and the part went to Laugh-In star Henry Gibson. The role gave Gibson the chance to show audiences that he was much more than a comedian, and won him a National Society of Film Critics award for Best Supporting Actor. Likewise, Susan Anspach refused to take a lower salary to play Barbara Jean and was replaced at the last minute. McGilligan wrote, "[Ronee] Blakley knew [musical director Richard] Baskin and Baskin knew she had recorded a promising early album on the Elektra label that includes two of the four songs she eventually was to sing in Nashville. When Anspach dropped out of the running, Altman remembered Blakley, who he had met and whose songs he had heard. He and Baskin went to see her perform in concert in Nashville where she was appearing as a backup singer for country-folk artist Hoyt Axton. More a political rhythm and blues folkie (her first album contains a homage to slain Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton), Blakley threw herself into research for the role - and made a point of meeting Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton as part of her preparation." Her hard work paid off. Blakley ended up with an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. (Ironically the addition of Blakley cost the film a Best Soundtrack nomination because her songs had already appeared in another medium.) Ned Beatty agreed to appear for what he called "one-tenth" of his usual salary, but after the film was complete, said in a magazine interview that he would never work with Altman again because he paid his actors so little. In the main, however, the equality of the salaries helped the actors cooperate with each other and built a sense of camaraderie on the set.

Nashville was a collaborative effort between director and actors with the principals either writing their own songs or in collaboration with Richard Baskin (who plays "Frog" in the film). The soundtrack album would later earn a Grammy nomination. The actors were also encouraged to improve their dialogue if it would enrich the character. Ronee Blakley, in particular, expanded upon her character's fainting scene which gave a whole new dimension to the role. "The sequence of Barbara Jean's mental disintegration was originally intended to be filmed at a shopping mall as a cathartic fainting spell. The night before the filming, Blakley began to think about the scene and decided that it was not enough for Barbara Jean to just faint. That would simply repeat an earlier airport scene where the country-and-western singer collapses in public. Instead, the first-time actress wrote a long, complicated, painful monologue, drawing on the journals she carried with her everywhere pasting 'little bits' of her own childhood together with bits of Barbara Jean's. She hoped the resulting words would be like the country lyrics only without the musical accompaniment, corny but touching. 'I wanted to go deeper down the road into her [Barbara Jean], to reveal both her strengths and her weaknesses. If she collapsed again physically, it wouldn't be taking her character anywhere, or the movie anywhere. Mostly, I just wanted people to see what made her tick.' When Blakley asked to see Altman the next day, the director was already embroiled with the crowds and the logistics. He arrived in her quarters, tense and irritable. 'Ronee Blakley caught me on the worst day, emotionally, of Nashville, he told American Film. 'It was stringing out towards the end of the picture. She was in makeup. We had a motel down there and I was screaming in the telephone at somebody and somebody else came in and said, 'Ronee wants to see you'. I thought 'Jesus Christ, now I have to have Ronee.' So I walked over to her and I said, 'Do you want to see me?' Kind of gruffly, which would scare her. She said, 'Could I have a moment?' I said, 'I suppose you want to see me alone.' She said, 'Well, yes.' I said, "You've got ideas for the scene, huh?' She said, 'Do you want to hear it?' and I said, "Yeah'. So we walked outside and she took out this notebook. She said, 'Here's what I thought' and she started reading from this thing. I said, 'I don't know, Ronee, I've got too much. Let's just do what we're supposed to do.' She said, 'Okay, whatever you say'. We went and we got in our little camper to go out to the location and I got to feeling bad about it and finally I said, 'Go ahead. Do what you were going to do '. Well, it's just dynamite material. It's just terrific. And I sat there and I thought 'I damn near blew this...'" Patrick McGilligan believes that it was this scene (which took all of twenty minutes to shoot) that earned Blakley her Academy Award nomination.

Geraldine Chaplin's character, Opal, was a BBC reporter who went everywhere with a tape recorder, commenting inanely on everything around her. Altman told Chaplin the character was his alter-ego. Joan Tewkesbury based the character's tape recorder obsession on what she had experienced first-hand, "I was in Cannes with Geraldine in 1974, and every time she would walk down the street there'd be ten or fifteen Opals chasing her with tape recorders. Her whole life she'd been pursued by people following a famous man's [Charlie Chaplin] daughter, trying to take her picture or ask her a question. So what she did really was show what she's been plagued with all her life. I feel it was a pretty honest interpretation."

The climactic scene of the film, in which Barbara Jean is assassinated at the concert, could only be shot in one day, due to budget restrictions. When it came time to shoot, it was pouring rain. According to those on the set, Altman, growing more and more frustrated, actually walked out into the rain, looked up at the sky, and shouted "Stop!" Within a few minutes the rain ceased. This scene caused more trouble for Altman than just the weather. He had used murders in several other films as, what Tewkesbury called, "an exorcism, a way of terminating that film's lifetime". It was a decision that was not popular. Altman claimed it was the reason behind art director Polly Platt's quitting the film. Tewkesbury later said "It wasn't in my first draft but Altman felt very strongly about it, since we had just lived through those times [the murders of the Kennedy Brothers and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.]. Bob felt that people never assassinate movie stars. They never assassinate anybody but politicians or heads of government, and the lowest thing you could do would be to assassinate this mother figure, this lady. So I redrafted the script with the assassination in mind, which gave it a harder edge and added a lot of other characters. ...I don't like it a lot, I think it's a very negative statement, but one can't deny the impact of it, the truth of it. But I love the film, and I wanted to see that film through, so you bet I wrote the assassination. I wrote it the best way I could, and the best way was to forget the judgment of 'assassinations' and trace why someone would do that..."

A short time before the scene was shot, South Korean President Chung Hee Park and his wife were assassinated and Altman was directly influenced by the subsequent news coverage. He told a reporter on the set, "I know just how I'm going to shoot that final scene now. I know just how to do it. Park was speaking at a podium when the shots went off. He ducked, and she got hit. Yeah, oh, they carried her out with her feet up, the whole thing. But the guys filming it, they zoomed in...and then back, and pointed here and there and all over 'There's a shooting!' 'Where?' The whole place was in absolute pandemonium. That's just how to shoot a scene".

Robert Altman's films have always been controversial and have left audiences and critics divided. When Paramount previewed the film in Boston the audience stood for several minutes both booing and cheering. Roger Ebert wrote in his review for The Chicago Sun-Times "After November 22, 1963 [the date of President Kennedy's assassination] and all the other days of infamy, I wouldn't have thought it possible that a film could have anything new or very interesting to say on assassination, but Nashville does, and the film's closing minutes with Barbara Harris finding herself, to her astonishment, onstage and singing, It Don't Worry Me are unforgettable and heartbreaking. Nashville, which seems so unstructured as it begins, reveals itself in this final sequence to have had a deep and very profound structure - but one of emotions, not ideas. This is a film about America. It deals with our myths, our hungers, our ambitions, and our sense of self. It knows how we talk and how we behave, and it doesn't flatter us but it does love us."

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences may have liked Nashville but it didn't "love" it quite enough, to Altman's severe disappointment. The film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Ronee Blakley and Lily Tomlin), and Best Music, Original Song (Keith Carradine's I'm Easy). Carradine would win the film's only Oscar. That year, Nashville was up against One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and in a twist of fate, Louise Fletcher, for whom Lily Tomlin's role of a singer with two deaf children was originally written (Fletcher was the child of deaf parents), took home the Oscar for Best Actress.

Producer: Robert Altman, Martin Starger, Jerry Weintraub
Director: Robert Altman
Screenplay: Joan Tewkesbury
Cinematography: Paul Lohmann
Film Editing: Dennis M. Hill, Sidney Levin
Art Direction: Robert M. Anderson
Music: Arlene Barnett, Jonnie Barnett, Karen Black, Ronee Blakley, Gary Busey, Keith Carradine, Juan Grizzle, Allan F. Nicholls, Dave Peel, Joe Raposo
Cast: David Arkin (Norman), Barbara Baxley (Lady Pearl), Ned Beatty (Delbert Reese), Karen Black (Connie White), Ronee Blakley (Barbara Jean), Timothy Brown (Tommy Brown).
C-159m. Letterboxed.

by Lorraine Lobianco

Sources:

Andrew Urban "Altman, Robert: Nashville's 25th", Urbancinefile.com, 2000
IMDB
Roger Ebert review of Nashville, Chicago Sun Times, 1975
Patrick McGilligan, "Robert Altman: Jumping Off the Cliff"

Nashville

Robert Altman's film Nashville premiered in New York on June 11, 1975 - exactly halfway between President Nixon's resignation and the start of the United States' Bicentennial year - and its timing could not have been more appropriate. On the surface, the film is about a country music festival in Nashville that coincides with a presidential campaign and the twenty-four different characters whose lives intermingle during the festival's five days. Interpretations of the film's meaning have been as numerous as the critics themselves, but director Altman has said that while the film is set in Nashville and the country music scene, it's really a film about American politics. Nashville was "a place where people get off the bus, like Hollywood was many years ago. The money is generated and there's a crudeness to the culture. It just seems like the proper place for me to be able to equate the analogy of our elected officials and politicians - which in many ways, I think, is a popularity contest - with the success of country and western music. As I say, eventually it's just a way of melding a whole view, my view, of the political climate in America today". Longtime Altman associate and Nashville screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury said, "Part of Nashville was because he hated what Richard Nixon was doing to the country. I'll never forget the image - when we were walking down the street the morning after Nixon had been elected again [in 1972]. There had been a huge windstorm the night before, and all of these umbrellas were turned inside out. And he said, 'The world is mourning. We've lost because Nixon has won.' He was really angry about that." Twenty-five years later, Altman looked back at the making of Nashville "I felt we were doing something that had the potential of being terrific. I had complete artistic freedom in this; I had nobody - nobody - saying you had to do this or do that....We had the framework, which was the city of Nashville, and I had the music as the through line. Then, you've got to understand that at that time everybody was politically charged - one way or another. So when they found out we were free to express these...attitudes, everybody became very creative." Nashville was originally offered to United Artists but they put off making a financial commitment and it was eventually passed on to Paramount. The starting money was provided by ABC so that their record company could release the soundtrack album. The final budget was a mere $2 million and, incredibly, the film was shot in only 45 days. With such a small budget, the actors were all offered the same salary - somewhere between $750 and $1,000 a week. Most, like Geraldine Chaplin, were happy to take the pay cut. According to Patrick McGilligan in his book Robert Altman: Jumping Off the Cliff, "Geraldine Chaplin said she turned down a $130,000 role in London in order to fly to the Altman set for her one-of-the-crowd billing. 'In Europe', she said, 'Altman is number one'. Lily Tomlin told Carol Burnett she would be more fulfilled, as an actress, with a walk-on in any Altman movie than with a lead role in most others...The Altman troupe were iconoclasts or independents, unknown quantities in motion pictures, new names, stand-up improvisers and small theater people, television people imprisoned by a boob-tube image, foreign stars whose casting would never have been cheered by a U.S. film company." Not everyone was willing to work for less. Robert Duvall had been Altman's first choice for Haven Hamilton, but his salary demands were too high and the part went to Laugh-In star Henry Gibson. The role gave Gibson the chance to show audiences that he was much more than a comedian, and won him a National Society of Film Critics award for Best Supporting Actor. Likewise, Susan Anspach refused to take a lower salary to play Barbara Jean and was replaced at the last minute. McGilligan wrote, "[Ronee] Blakley knew [musical director Richard] Baskin and Baskin knew she had recorded a promising early album on the Elektra label that includes two of the four songs she eventually was to sing in Nashville. When Anspach dropped out of the running, Altman remembered Blakley, who he had met and whose songs he had heard. He and Baskin went to see her perform in concert in Nashville where she was appearing as a backup singer for country-folk artist Hoyt Axton. More a political rhythm and blues folkie (her first album contains a homage to slain Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton), Blakley threw herself into research for the role - and made a point of meeting Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton as part of her preparation." Her hard work paid off. Blakley ended up with an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. (Ironically the addition of Blakley cost the film a Best Soundtrack nomination because her songs had already appeared in another medium.) Ned Beatty agreed to appear for what he called "one-tenth" of his usual salary, but after the film was complete, said in a magazine interview that he would never work with Altman again because he paid his actors so little. In the main, however, the equality of the salaries helped the actors cooperate with each other and built a sense of camaraderie on the set. Nashville was a collaborative effort between director and actors with the principals either writing their own songs or in collaboration with Richard Baskin (who plays "Frog" in the film). The soundtrack album would later earn a Grammy nomination. The actors were also encouraged to improve their dialogue if it would enrich the character. Ronee Blakley, in particular, expanded upon her character's fainting scene which gave a whole new dimension to the role. "The sequence of Barbara Jean's mental disintegration was originally intended to be filmed at a shopping mall as a cathartic fainting spell. The night before the filming, Blakley began to think about the scene and decided that it was not enough for Barbara Jean to just faint. That would simply repeat an earlier airport scene where the country-and-western singer collapses in public. Instead, the first-time actress wrote a long, complicated, painful monologue, drawing on the journals she carried with her everywhere pasting 'little bits' of her own childhood together with bits of Barbara Jean's. She hoped the resulting words would be like the country lyrics only without the musical accompaniment, corny but touching. 'I wanted to go deeper down the road into her [Barbara Jean], to reveal both her strengths and her weaknesses. If she collapsed again physically, it wouldn't be taking her character anywhere, or the movie anywhere. Mostly, I just wanted people to see what made her tick.' When Blakley asked to see Altman the next day, the director was already embroiled with the crowds and the logistics. He arrived in her quarters, tense and irritable. 'Ronee Blakley caught me on the worst day, emotionally, of Nashville, he told American Film. 'It was stringing out towards the end of the picture. She was in makeup. We had a motel down there and I was screaming in the telephone at somebody and somebody else came in and said, 'Ronee wants to see you'. I thought 'Jesus Christ, now I have to have Ronee.' So I walked over to her and I said, 'Do you want to see me?' Kind of gruffly, which would scare her. She said, 'Could I have a moment?' I said, 'I suppose you want to see me alone.' She said, 'Well, yes.' I said, "You've got ideas for the scene, huh?' She said, 'Do you want to hear it?' and I said, "Yeah'. So we walked outside and she took out this notebook. She said, 'Here's what I thought' and she started reading from this thing. I said, 'I don't know, Ronee, I've got too much. Let's just do what we're supposed to do.' She said, 'Okay, whatever you say'. We went and we got in our little camper to go out to the location and I got to feeling bad about it and finally I said, 'Go ahead. Do what you were going to do '. Well, it's just dynamite material. It's just terrific. And I sat there and I thought 'I damn near blew this...'" Patrick McGilligan believes that it was this scene (which took all of twenty minutes to shoot) that earned Blakley her Academy Award nomination. Geraldine Chaplin's character, Opal, was a BBC reporter who went everywhere with a tape recorder, commenting inanely on everything around her. Altman told Chaplin the character was his alter-ego. Joan Tewkesbury based the character's tape recorder obsession on what she had experienced first-hand, "I was in Cannes with Geraldine in 1974, and every time she would walk down the street there'd be ten or fifteen Opals chasing her with tape recorders. Her whole life she'd been pursued by people following a famous man's [Charlie Chaplin] daughter, trying to take her picture or ask her a question. So what she did really was show what she's been plagued with all her life. I feel it was a pretty honest interpretation." The climactic scene of the film, in which Barbara Jean is assassinated at the concert, could only be shot in one day, due to budget restrictions. When it came time to shoot, it was pouring rain. According to those on the set, Altman, growing more and more frustrated, actually walked out into the rain, looked up at the sky, and shouted "Stop!" Within a few minutes the rain ceased. This scene caused more trouble for Altman than just the weather. He had used murders in several other films as, what Tewkesbury called, "an exorcism, a way of terminating that film's lifetime". It was a decision that was not popular. Altman claimed it was the reason behind art director Polly Platt's quitting the film. Tewkesbury later said "It wasn't in my first draft but Altman felt very strongly about it, since we had just lived through those times [the murders of the Kennedy Brothers and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.]. Bob felt that people never assassinate movie stars. They never assassinate anybody but politicians or heads of government, and the lowest thing you could do would be to assassinate this mother figure, this lady. So I redrafted the script with the assassination in mind, which gave it a harder edge and added a lot of other characters. ...I don't like it a lot, I think it's a very negative statement, but one can't deny the impact of it, the truth of it. But I love the film, and I wanted to see that film through, so you bet I wrote the assassination. I wrote it the best way I could, and the best way was to forget the judgment of 'assassinations' and trace why someone would do that..." A short time before the scene was shot, South Korean President Chung Hee Park and his wife were assassinated and Altman was directly influenced by the subsequent news coverage. He told a reporter on the set, "I know just how I'm going to shoot that final scene now. I know just how to do it. Park was speaking at a podium when the shots went off. He ducked, and she got hit. Yeah, oh, they carried her out with her feet up, the whole thing. But the guys filming it, they zoomed in...and then back, and pointed here and there and all over 'There's a shooting!' 'Where?' The whole place was in absolute pandemonium. That's just how to shoot a scene". Robert Altman's films have always been controversial and have left audiences and critics divided. When Paramount previewed the film in Boston the audience stood for several minutes both booing and cheering. Roger Ebert wrote in his review for The Chicago Sun-Times "After November 22, 1963 [the date of President Kennedy's assassination] and all the other days of infamy, I wouldn't have thought it possible that a film could have anything new or very interesting to say on assassination, but Nashville does, and the film's closing minutes with Barbara Harris finding herself, to her astonishment, onstage and singing, It Don't Worry Me are unforgettable and heartbreaking. Nashville, which seems so unstructured as it begins, reveals itself in this final sequence to have had a deep and very profound structure - but one of emotions, not ideas. This is a film about America. It deals with our myths, our hungers, our ambitions, and our sense of self. It knows how we talk and how we behave, and it doesn't flatter us but it does love us." The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences may have liked Nashville but it didn't "love" it quite enough, to Altman's severe disappointment. The film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Ronee Blakley and Lily Tomlin), and Best Music, Original Song (Keith Carradine's I'm Easy). Carradine would win the film's only Oscar. That year, Nashville was up against One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and in a twist of fate, Louise Fletcher, for whom Lily Tomlin's role of a singer with two deaf children was originally written (Fletcher was the child of deaf parents), took home the Oscar for Best Actress. Producer: Robert Altman, Martin Starger, Jerry Weintraub Director: Robert Altman Screenplay: Joan Tewkesbury Cinematography: Paul Lohmann Film Editing: Dennis M. Hill, Sidney Levin Art Direction: Robert M. Anderson Music: Arlene Barnett, Jonnie Barnett, Karen Black, Ronee Blakley, Gary Busey, Keith Carradine, Juan Grizzle, Allan F. Nicholls, Dave Peel, Joe Raposo Cast: David Arkin (Norman), Barbara Baxley (Lady Pearl), Ned Beatty (Delbert Reese), Karen Black (Connie White), Ronee Blakley (Barbara Jean), Timothy Brown (Tommy Brown). C-159m. Letterboxed. by Lorraine Lobianco Sources: Andrew Urban "Altman, Robert: Nashville's 25th", Urbancinefile.com, 2000 IMDB Roger Ebert review of Nashville, Chicago Sun Times, 1975 Patrick McGilligan, "Robert Altman: Jumping Off the Cliff"

The Nashville Chronicles: The Making of Robert Altman's Masterpiece


"World Survey Says Negative Views of U.S. Are Rising," reads a bleak headline in December 5's The New York Times. Throwing a healthy dose of red, white and blue in the face of such a dismal proclamation, Limelight Editions heralds these grand United States, the Grand 'Ole Opry, and George Jones swaggering down Main Street with a backpocket full of pills, with the release of The Nashville Chronicles: The Making of Robert Altman's Masterpiece by Jan Stuart.

The 1975 film Nashville by Robert Altman was a tour-de-force of moviemaking in length, cultural extremes, audacity, improvisational character-building, political satire and Americana. Twenty-five years later, The Nashville Chronicles: The Making of Robert Altman's Masterpiece did just that - chronicled the development of the storyline and characters that made this groundbreaking movie. With first-hand interviews and behind-the-scenes gossip and insight, author Jan Stuart has given us a laser beam into the minds of a great filmmaker, his henchmen, and his motley crew of misfits, divas and other dramatis personae.

The cast of characters in The Nashville Chronicles include, among others, Lily Tomlin, Keith Carradine, Barbara Harris, Ned Beatty, Karen Black, Ronee Blakely (who hung out with Loretta Lynn to prepare for her role as a Queen of Country Music), Jeff Goldblum, Shelley Duvall and Robert Altman. Alcoholism, heroin addiction, broken relationships, broken promises, psychological neurosis, threats of violence and outsized egotism bound in these behind-the-scenes pages.

The Nashville Chronicles: The Making of Robert Altman's Masterpiece (published by Limelight Editions) is currently available from most major book store chains and specialty book shops everywhere.

The Nashville Chronicles: The Making of Robert Altman's Masterpiece

"World Survey Says Negative Views of U.S. Are Rising," reads a bleak headline in December 5's The New York Times. Throwing a healthy dose of red, white and blue in the face of such a dismal proclamation, Limelight Editions heralds these grand United States, the Grand 'Ole Opry, and George Jones swaggering down Main Street with a backpocket full of pills, with the release of The Nashville Chronicles: The Making of Robert Altman's Masterpiece by Jan Stuart. The 1975 film Nashville by Robert Altman was a tour-de-force of moviemaking in length, cultural extremes, audacity, improvisational character-building, political satire and Americana. Twenty-five years later, The Nashville Chronicles: The Making of Robert Altman's Masterpiece did just that - chronicled the development of the storyline and characters that made this groundbreaking movie. With first-hand interviews and behind-the-scenes gossip and insight, author Jan Stuart has given us a laser beam into the minds of a great filmmaker, his henchmen, and his motley crew of misfits, divas and other dramatis personae. The cast of characters in The Nashville Chronicles include, among others, Lily Tomlin, Keith Carradine, Barbara Harris, Ned Beatty, Karen Black, Ronee Blakely (who hung out with Loretta Lynn to prepare for her role as a Queen of Country Music), Jeff Goldblum, Shelley Duvall and Robert Altman. Alcoholism, heroin addiction, broken relationships, broken promises, psychological neurosis, threats of violence and outsized egotism bound in these behind-the-scenes pages. The Nashville Chronicles: The Making of Robert Altman's Masterpiece (published by Limelight Editions) is currently available from most major book store chains and specialty book shops everywhere.

Quotes

Trivia

Each actor was required to write and perform their own songs for the movie.

'Segal, George' had a cameo as himself, but it was cut.

Gary Busey was originally going to play "Tom" and wrote the song "Since You've Gone" used in the film.

The film was very much improvised by the actors, who used the screenplay only as a guide. They spent a great amount of their time in character, and the movie was shot almost entirely in sequence.

Original footage was so long, it was almost released as two parallel movies: "Nashville Red" and "Nashville Blue."

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1975

Re-released in United States November 6, 1992

Film was shot in 45 days.

Selected in 1992 for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.

Re-released in Australia October 5, 2000.

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1975

Re-released in United States November 6, 1992 (New York City)