Customer Review

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars every Leonard Cohen should buy this, 9 Oct 2006
This review is from: Mccabe And Mrs Miller [DVD] [1971] (DVD)
This DVD is a Classic and calling it a ' Western ' may put of some people - forget the stereotype just Buy the DVD and you will be enchanted by it - trust me .

Now I have to confess that I love this DVD mainly because of the music.

I am a huge fan of ' Leonard Cohen ' and I know his albums backwards so when I first saw the film on TV I was completely puzzled because his songs merge into the film so well that if I did not know better I would swear the Music was writing for the Film which of course was not the case - Here is the story of how Cohen was used for most of the film -

The music for the film was largely by Leonard Cohen. Altman had liked Cohen's debut album immensely, buying additional copies of it after wearing each one out. Then he had forgotten about the LP. Years later he visited Paris, just after finishing shooting on McCabe & Mrs. Miller, and rediscovered the album; he had it transferred and started the music to maintain a rhythm for the film. He didn't expect to be able to procure rights for the music since it was a Warner Brothers film and Cohen's album was released through Columbia Records. However, he called Cohen, expecting to trade off his recent success with M*A*S*H, but found that Cohen did not much like the film. Instead, he had loved Altman's less popular follow-up film Brewster McCloud, and arranged for his record company to license the music cheaply, even writing into the contract that sales of that album after the release of McCabe would turn some of the royalties to Altman (an arrangement which at the time was quite unusual). Later, on watching McCabe to come up with a guitar riff for one scene, Cohen decided he didn't like the film, but honoured his contract. A year later he called Altman to apologize, saying he had seen the film again and loved it.

The film was shot in the environs of Vancouver, British Columbia almost entirely in sequential order--a rarity for films. The crew found a suitable location for the filming and, as filming progressed, built up the "set" as McCabe built up the town in the film. In the film, Mrs. Miller is brought into town on a steam engine from the late 1800s; the steam engine is genuine and functioning and the crew used it to power the lumbermill after its arrival. Carpenters for the film were locals and young men from the United States, fleeing conscription into the Vietnam War; they were dressed in period costume and used tools of the period so that they could go about their business in the background while the plot advanced in the foreground. The crew ran buried hoses throughout the town, placed so they could create the appearance of rain if necessary.

It began snowing near the end of the film's shooting, when the church fire and the standoff were the only scenes left to shoot. Beatty didn't want to start shooting in the snow, as it was in a sense dangerous to do so: to preserve continuity, the entire rest of the film would have to be shot in snow. Altman countered that since those were the only scenes left to film, it was best to start since there was nothing else to do. The "standoff" scene--which is in fact more a "cat and mouse" scene involving shooting one's enemy in the back--and its concurrent church fire scene were shot over a period of nine days. The heavy snow, with the exception of a few "fill-in" patches on the ground, was all genuine the crew members built snowmen and had snowball fights between takes.

As you can imagine this is a very laid back Film - just cut the phone line and settle down for a wonderful journey that will turn you into a Cohen fan
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 24 Oct 2009 11:11:20 BDT
Dave Gurman says:
A great review, it's always terrific to get that kind of interesting background.

Dave

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Apr 2010 23:32:30 BDT
Four Violets says:
I thought it noticeable that in the "cat and mouse" stalking scenes at the end, the snow went from an inch to about 3 feet in what must only have been an hour or so!
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