- Robert Altman
- Elliot Gould, Julie Christie, Ned Beatty, Shelley Duvall, Keith Carradine
Nashville is Robert Altman’s triumph—it’s one of the best movies made in the ‘70s and one of the most complex pictures to come out of Hollywood. Revered as “the funniest epic vision of America ever to reach the screen,” (Pauline Kael, New Yorker) Altman’s movie is at once a Grand Hotel-style narrative, with 24 linked characters; a country-western musical; a documentary essay on Nashville and American life; a meditation on the love affair between performers and audiences; and an Altman party. In the opening sequences, when Altman’s actors start arriving, and pile up in a traffic jam on the way from the airport to the city, the movie suggests the circus procession at the end of Fellini’s 8½. But Altman’s characters are far more autonomous; they move and intermingle freely, and the whole movie is their procession. The basic script is by Joan Tewkesbury, but the star-studded cast was encouraged to work up their own material for their roles, and not only do they do their own singing but most of them wrote their own songs—and wrote them in character. It isn’t easy to single out performances because every actor has his or her moment to strut on stage, and each one scores. Although apparently a mélange of sights and sounds, everything miraculously comes together at the conclusion, leaving viewers at the finale sitting there exhausted and exhilarated from being pushed, dragged, uplifted, and wrung out by the experience.