Nashville (1975)

Keith Carradine, Karen Black, Ronee Blakley, Shelley Duvall,
Over the course of a few hectic days, numerous interrelated people prepare for a political convention as secrets and lies are surfaced and revealed.
  • 7.6 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Joan Tewkesbury, Writer:
  • Robert Altman, Director:
  • Producer:


10/10 / 10

Robert Altman is an extremely divisive director in the sense that youeither "get it" or you don't--and those who don't despise his work andtake considerable pleasure in sneering at NASHVILLE in particular. Butthere is no way around the fact that it is an important film, a highlyinfluential film, to most Altman fans his finest films, and to mostseries critics quite possibly the single finest film made during thewhole of the 1970s.

According to the movie trailer available on the DVD release, NASHVILLEis "the damnedest thing you ever saw"--and a truer thing was neversaid, for it is one of those rare film that completely defiesdescription. On one level, the film follows the lives of some twentycharacters over the course of several days leading up to a politicalrally, lives that collide or don't collide, that have moments ofsuccess and failure, and which in the process explore the hypocrisythat we try to sweep away under the rug of American culture. If it weremerely that, the film would be so much soap-opera, but it goes quite abit further: it juxtaposes its observations with images of Americanpatriotism and politics at their most vulgar, and in the process itmakes an incredibly funny, incredibly sad, and remarkably savagestatement on the superficial values that plague our society.

What most viewers find difficult about NASHVILLE--and about many Altmanfilms--is his refusal to direct our attention within any single scene.Conversations and plot directions overlap with each other, and so muchgoes on in every scene that you are constantly forced to decide whatyou will pay attention to and what you will ignore. The result is afilm that goes in a hundred different directions with a thousanddifferent meanings, and it would be safe to say that every person whosees it will see a different film.

In the end, however, all these roads lead to Rome, or in this case tothe Roman coliseum of American politics, where fame is gained or lostin the wake of violence, where the strong consume the weak without anyreal personal malice, and where the current political star is only asgood as press agent's presentation. For those willing and able to diveinto the complex web of life it presents, Altman's masterpiece will bean endlessly fascinating mirror in which we see the energy of lifeitself scattered, gathered, and reflected back to us. A masterpiecethat bears repeated viewings much in the same way that a great novelbears repeated readings. A personal favorite and highly, highlyrecommended.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer

/ 10

Much like some of the other comments about "Nashville" that arecirculatingaround IMDB, the reviews I've seen of Robert Altman's 1975 Oscarcontenderhave been completely adulatory or completely dismissive. Contrary to somecomments I've read, "Nashville" looks as prescient and magnificent now asitappeared to some critics nearly thirty years ago. Dated? Absolutely not."Nashville" is a movie about people more than anything else, but apoliticalcampaign van that appears throughout the movie shows the unavoidablenatureof politics in people's lives in the 70's. Has that changed since then?It'seven more true now, with our war in Iraq and all of the conflictingviewpoints that exist. Annoying overlapping dialogue? To dismiss thisuniquetrait of "Nashville" is to hate the trademark of director Robert Altman.Dopeople wait their turn as if reading from a screenplay in real life?Muddycinematography? Certainly not - to show a Nashville vibrant with colorsthatdon't really fit (a crime that most visually overachieving movies commit)would distract from Altman's amazing focus on the relationships of thecharacters that he builds so well. And the characters....the dozens ofcastmembers lend terrific support to a film that moves forward constantlywhilenever seeming to move too fast, leaving time for moments of poignancy andheartbreak, as well as unintentionally hilarious moments (as every goodpseudo-documentary film has). Who can forget Lily Tomlin gazing at herdeafchildren tenderly as their father completely ignores them as they speak?Orthe moment Keith Carradine performs his Oscar-winning "I'm Easy" in frontofa night club crowd? Really, "Nashville" is filled with great moments ALLthetime that make the nearly three-hour film unmissable, but nothing in theworld can prepare the patient viewer for the film's breathtaking finalewhich seems even more moving today in the midst of everything. Forget the"National Anthem" or "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." The gospel-esquestrains of "It Don't Worry Me" make it the American song for the ages, inanAmerican film that ranks among the best of its kind.

/ 10

Nashville couldn't understand "Nashville," and no wonder. Anyone who watches"Nashville" for insights to country music probably views "The Godfather" fortips about olive oil. Altman's 1975 film uses country music and the peoplewho perform, listen to and produce it as a metaphor about America in the'70s, when, as Warren Beatty said in "A Parallax View," released a yearearlier, "everytime you turned around, one of the best people in the countrywas getting shot." Anyone who has seen the film and visits the Parthenon,where the final scenes are filmed, may feel a sense of unease. Listenclosely and you can hear Haven Hamilton pleading to the stunned crowd, "Showthem what we're made of! They can't do this to us here! This isn't Dallas;this is Nashville!"

The ending is astonishing, tidying up some plot lines and leaving othersopen ended. A star is born when the Albuquerque character and a gospel groupminus its leader belt out a Nashville standard, "It Don't Worry Me." TheSueleen Gay character, meanwhile, suffers one final indignity; Albuquerque,on the same stage and with the same ambitions, achieves the fame that mighthave gone to Sueleen, a waitress/stripper/wanna-be recording artist, hadSueleen gotten the microphone first.

We never know what caused the Kenny Frazier character to crack; perhaps likeMark David Chapman (John Lennon) he was obsessed with the Holden Caulfieldcharacter in "Catcher in the Rye," although we can feel fairly certain thathe did not share John David Hinckley's (President Reagan) obsession withJodie Foster since "Taxi Driver" would not be released for anotheryear.

Watching "Nashville" for the first time, you may feel protective of BarbaraJean's character for reasons you can't immediately explain but will learnall too well. I feel the same urge to shout at the screen, warning hercharacter of possible danger, that I experienced in "From Here to Eternity,"knowing that Pearl Harbor was imminent and would changeeverything.

Characters transform before our eyes. Del Reese (Ned Beatty), bored with hismarriage to a Nashville superstar and as a father to hearing-impairedchildren, cares enough at the end to lead a wounded Haven Hamilton tosafety. Hamilton (masterfully played by Henry Gibson) would stomp anyone inhis path to create a hit record but is the first to care for Barbara Jean inher moment of need.

Sure, some of the songs are terrible -- some country music is terrible --but could anything be more poignant than Barbara Jean's rendition of "MyIdaho Home" or Keith Carradine singing "I'm Easy" in a nightclub where fourof his conquests look on equally with lust and bewilderment. Countrysingers, like stock-car drivers, inspire tremendous loyalty and jealousyamong their fans, which Altman depicts beautifully when Scott Glenn, adevoted fan of Barbara Jean, leaves the Opry as Connie White appears to singa tribute to her ailing rival. Hamilton's character is never better thanwhen between songs he asks listeners to send Barbara Jean a card and "tellher that Haven told you to write."

Altman would rate among the greatest directors -- as the American Fellini --if this were his only effort. Despite its convoluted plot structure,"Nashville" achieves greatness and searches for truth. If the 1970s shapedyour life in any respect, this is a movie experience not to bemissed.

10/10 / 10

I saw Nashville when it was first shown, billed as Altman's "birthday card"to America on the occasion of the bicentennial. The greatest tribute I canpay is that, despite its frequent shifts of location, many individual scenesand characterizations, as well as the overarching story line, remained vividin my mind over the years before I was able to purchase the film on video.When I taught Film History at my college I used Nashville as the finalexamination for the course. After having viewed the film, students wereinstructed to identify the elements of film technique previouslystudied(such as overlapping dialogue, jump shots, widescreen, etc) in orderto forward the narrative, as they were employed by Altman. In general, theydid very well; even those who disliked the film. There are too manyadmirable performances for me to mention; however, those that remained mostvivid in my mind over the years were those of Gwen Welles, Ronee Blakley,Henry Gibson, and Lily Tomlin. One last note of appreciation regards thefact that all the characters were introduced within the first twenty minutesat the airport; their personalities brought out in the highway scene;andtheir being brought together again, cyclically, during the last twentyminutes at the "Parthenon". It has been several years since I used Nashvillefor pedagogical purposes. When I purchased the DVD recently I found that,despite my numerous viewings and classroom analysis, the impact wasvirtually the same as when I first saw it in 1976. For me, it did not"murder to dissect" this personal milestone.

10/10 / 10

After having seen this film for the third time - the first was in filmschool many years ago - I'm struck by the amount of action going on withinmany of the shots. Mention is frequently made of Altman's use ofoverlapping dialogue in the sound but what struck me this time around ishowoften two or more characters, acting out different lines of the story arecaptured within the same shot - giving this film much of its sense ofverisimilitude, a fantastic control of pace while feeling natural.Unarguably, much of its naturalism comes from the lens and cinematographicchoices but part of it also stems from the choices made available in thecutting room, which give it an excellent pace and rhythm.

Add to that some wonderful performances, especially by Henry Gibson andRonee Blakely, and you have a quintessential American Independent filmthatspeaks about America in terms that no marketing agency of the currentgeneration would ever tolerate.