Monday, May 7, 2012
#59 on the 2007 AFI List of the best 100 American Movies.
Nashville is a 1975 American musical black comedy film directed by Robert Altman. A winner of many awards, selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry, Nashville is generally considered to be one of Altman's best films.
The film takes a snapshot of people involved in the country music and gospel music businesses in Nashville, Tennessee. It has 24 main characters, an hour of musical numbers, and multiple storylines. The characters' efforts to succeed or hold on to their success are interwoven with the efforts of a political operative and a local businessman to stage a concert rally before the state's presidential primary for a populist outsider running for president of the United States on the Replacement Party ticket. In the film's final half-hour, most of the characters come together at the outdoor concert at the Parthenon in Nashville.
The large ensemble cast includes David Arkin, Barbara Baxley, Ned Beatty, Karen Black, Ronee Blakley, Keith Carradine, Geraldine Chaplin, Robert DoQui, Shelley Duvall, Allen Garfield, Henry Gibson, Scott Glenn, Jeff Goldblum, Barbara Harris, David Hayward, Michael Murphy, Allan F. Nicholls, Cristina Raines, Bert Remsen, Lily Tomlin, Gwen Welles, and Keenan Wynn.
* David Arkin as Norman, a nervous, self-conscious chauffeur who doesn't understand that celebrities want him to shut up and just do his job.
* Barbara Baxley as Lady Pearl, Haven Hamilton's companion. She manages a bluegrass night at a downtown club. She appears to be inebriated for most of the film, and is dedicated to the late John and Bobby Kennedy. She is Roman Catholic.
* Ned Beatty as Delbert "Del" Reese is a good old boy with a struggling marriage and a wandering eye. He is Haven Hamilton's lawyer and the local organizer for the Hal Philip Walker campaign.
* Karen Black as Connie White, a glamorous country singer of mediocre talent and rival of Barbara Jean.
* In her first film role, songwriter Ronee Blakley is Barbara Jean, a hyper-feminine, emotionally fragile country singer who is the sweetheart of Nashville.
* Timothy Brown as Tommy Brown, an African American singer who performs at the Grand Ole Opry.
* Keith Carradine as Tom Frank, a member of the folk rock trio Bill, Mary and Tom. He is attempting to create a career as a solo artist. Lean, handsome and dashing, he is also rude and insolent; his successful womanizing leaves him empty and irritable.
* Geraldine Chaplin as Opal, a wacky, celebrity-obsessed, self-absorbed BBC radio reporter. As a surrogate for the audience, she provides an outsider's perspective on the business of music. She is never seen with a film crew, she never shows anyone any official credentials and complains at one point that her cameraman is never around when she needs him. She also erroneously refers to her employer as the 'British Broadcasting Company' (the C in BBC actually standing for 'Corporation'). Film critic Roger Ebert suggests, in his "Great Movies" article, that she may not even be a filmmaker but just a groupie who uses fake credentials to gain access to famous people.
* Robert DoQui as Wade Cooley, a cook at the airport restaurant and protector of Sueleen Gay.
* Shelley Duvall as Martha, the niece of Mr. Green. Martha, who has changed her name to L.A. Joan, has come to Nashville ostensibly to visit Mrs. Green, but spends all her time changing her clothes and wigs, and chasing men.
* Allen Garfield as Barnett, Barbara Jean's husband and manager. Barnett strenuously protects Barbara Jean's career, but when they are together their relationship is strained and he privately bullies her into a nervous wreck.
* Henry Gibson as Haven Hamilton, a Nudie-suit-wearing star of the Grand Ole Opry. His political ambitions play a pivotal role in the film's plot.
* Scott Glenn as Pfc. Glenn Kelly, a Vietnam War veteran who has come to Nashville to see Barbara Jean perform. It is unclear whether or not he is stalking her.
* Jeff Goldblum as the silent Tricycle Man. He rides his long, low-slung three-wheel motorcycle everywhere, and serves as a structural connector for scenes in the film.
* Barbara Harris as Winifred, an aspiring singer-songwriter who runs away from her irascible husband, Star. Despite her straggly appearance and repeated failures to get a break, she understands that the music business is a business, and when her opportunity comes, she is ready.
* David Hayward as Kenny Frasier, a loner who "looks like Howdy Doody", carries a violin case and rents a room from Mr. Green.
* Michael Murphy as the smooth-talking, duplicitous John Triplette, an organizer for Hal Philip Walker's presidential campaign.
* Allan F. Nicholls as Bill, one of the folk trio, Bill, Mary and Tom. He is married to Mary. During the film his marriage is tested.
* Dave Peel as Bud Hamilton, the sweet-natured son of Haven Hamilton. Bud, who went to Harvard, speaks without an accent. He handles his father's business affairs.
* Cristina Raines as Mary, one of the folk trio, Bill, Mary and Tom. She is married to Bill, but is in love with Tom Franks.
* Bert Remsen as Star, who appears in the film only to chase after his runaway wife Winifred.
* Lily Tomlin as Linnea Reese, one of the major characters. Linnea is a gospel singer, wife of Delbert Reese and loving mother of two deaf children.
* Gwen Welles as Sueleen Gay, a pretty young waitress at the airport lunch counter and a talentless, aspiring country singer. Her refusal to recognize her limitations and face reality gets her in trouble.
* Keenan Wynn as Mr. Green, the aging uncle of Martha. His wife is sick and he spends the film trying to get Martha to visit her.
* Richard Baskin, the film's musical supervisor, wrote several of the songs performed in the film. He has a cameo as Frog, a session musician, appearing in several scenes.
* Merle Kilgore as Trout, the owner of a club that has an open-mic talent night that gives Sueleen Gay what she believes is her big break as a singer.
There are cameo appearances by Elliott Gould, Julie Christie, Vassar Clements and Howard K. Smith, all playing themselves. Gould and Christie were passing through Nashville when Altman added them. Altman himself plays Bob an unseen producer who in the beginning of the film is producing Haven Hamilton's song 200 Years. He can be heard on a speaker when Hamilton gets agitated by Frog's inept piano playing.
The film won an Oscar for Best Original Song and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song - Motion Picture (awarded to Keith Carradine for "I'm Easy"). Ronee Blakley and Lily Tomlin were nominated for Best Supporting Actress, Robert Altman was nominated for Best Director, and the film itself was nominated for Best Picture. It won a BAFTA Film Award for "Best Sound Track." Altman won for best director from: Cartagena Film Festival; Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards; National Board of Review; National Society of Film Critics Awards; and the New York Film Critics Circle Awards. Lily Tomlin was awarded the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress.