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Brewster McCloud

Brewster McCloud – 1970
Robert Altman

Doran William Cannon

Bud Cort
Shelley Duvall
Sally Kellerman

Review by Wayne Malin

Not for everybody,
Bud Cort plays Brewster McCloud. He’s a very strange young man who lives in the Houston Astrodome and is building a huge set of wings so he can fly. The movie is about him and his VERY odd assortment of friends and family. And how about the killer running around Houston strangling people and leaving bird droppings on them?

As you can see this is a very strange film. It’s unlike anything director Robert Altman has ever done. The film isn’t perfect–it’s too long, the weirdness wears you down at times, some of the humor is real sick and there are characters that are just disgusting (Stacy Keach) or too flat out weird, even for this movie (Jennifer Salt)! And what’s with the circus ending (entertaining as it is)? Still I love this film.

The story rambles all over the place but I was able to keep track of it. Altman packs the movie with plenty of bird imagery and references. He also pays homage to other films also–most notably “The Wizard of Oz” (right up to having Margaret Hamilton in the cast and check out how Salt is dressed at times). This really doesn’t pull together in any way but it IS fascinating to watch. Also the cast is great–with one exception–Michael Murphy. He’s miscast and looks miserable. But everybody else is perfect. Particular standouts are Cort (very good in a difficult role), Shelley Duvall (who usually annoys me to no end) and Sally Kirkland (looking absolutely stunning). Also there’s a very cute injoke–there’s a quick shot of the poster for “MASH” in Duvall’s apartment!

This film was overshadowed by Altman’s “MASH” in 1970. Also, the studio hated it and threw it away. Now, however, it is rightfully considered one of the best films of its decade. I highly recommend this–but not for everybody. If you like a linear plot and easily defined characters, stay away.


Brewster McCloud (1970)

Review by Zetes

Robert Altman proves to be no Maestro,

Robert Altman is undoubtedly one of the best American directors of all time, but he very often missteps. Remember Popeye? Well, Brewster McCloud, his first effort post-MASH, his enormous hit and Oscar winner, shouldn’t really be considered a misstep, per se. It certainly is an interesting film. It’s just that Altman never knows when to stop, and by the end, I couldn’t wait for it to end.

The first hour is hilarious. It’s original, even for Altman it is unique. But after about an hour, there’s this fifteen or so minute car chase that’s just lame. There have been hundreds of car chases in film history, and only about three have been exciting, all three of those being in the Mad Max series. This one goes on and on. I can give it one complement, or insult, however you might see it. It predicts The Dukes of Hazzard. Several cop cars chase around an orange muscle car. This car chase kills whatever mood has been growing.

Also, the film is just too dang clever for its own good. Cleverness is a good thing in the movies, because you see so little of it. But when a film is trying to be so different that it just becomes silly, well, like I said above, you just have to know when to stop.

Altman ends with what seems to be an ode to Fellini’s 8 1/2. During that circus, the reason that the audience’s emotions are so high is because you know and love the characters who are dancing around. Here, they’re all just caricatures.

I shouldn’t be so hard on it. To tell you the truth, I liked it for a very long time. The film itself took too many missteps, and ended much more poorly than it had began. 7/10

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70s Films

A tour through the great and not so great films of the seventies The seventies saw a huge change in styles and genres from the advent of the slasher horror movies like Halloween and the blockbuster summers films started by Jaws. More...

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