Nashville (1975)

nashville movie poster 1975
10 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great movie and great performances from cast

No real story, but great script

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Nashville

Studio:  ABC Entertainment/American Broadcasting Company (ABC)/Paramount Pictures

Genre(s):  Drama/Musical

Release Date(s):  June 11, 1975

MPAA Rating:  R

nashville lily tomlin keith carradine

Lily Tomlin…sex symbol?

It is 1976…the Bicentennial…an election year.  Things are happening in Nashville.  A third party candidate with the country superstar Haven Hamilton (Henry Gibson) is making waves in the race.  Meanwhile, music in Nashville is changing.  Folk trio “Bill, Mary, and Tom” are popularizing the country music with a crossover hit by Tom (Keith Carradine) who is a notorious womanizer.  Tom’s got his eyes on a married gospel singer named Linnea Reese (Lily Tomlin) whose husband Del Reese (Ned Beatty) is working with Hamilton’s campaign on a fundraiser.  The star of the fundraiser is Barbara Jean (Ronee Blakley) whose popular star is being challenged by a new rising star in Connie White (Karen Black).  A soldier named Glenn Kelly (Scott Glenn), a unsigned singer on the run from her husband named Winfred (Barbara Harris), a man named Mr. Green (Keenan Wynn) searches for his niece Martha (Shelley Duvall) as his wife dies, a strange man on a giant three wheeled motorcycle (Jeff Goldblum), and a reporter named Opal (Geraldine Chaplin) who works for the BBC are all just caught in Nashville.

nashville henry gibson singing

The hair is natural…I swear

Directed by Robert Altman, Nashville is a drama musical satire.  Following Altman’s California Split in 1974, the film won an Academy Award for Best Original Song (“I’m Easy” by Keith Carradine) with nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Ronee Blakley) and another Best Supporting Actress nod for Lily Tomlin.  The film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 1992 and was released by Criterion in a special remastered version (Criterion #683).

I have to say, Nashville is quite high in my favorite all-time films.  It is just a weird mesh of overlapping conversations and music…and characters that could each carry a movie on their own.  It is classic Altman.

nashville barbara jean loretta lynn ronee blakley

Loretta Lynn stand-in?

The movie is one of those films “about nothing” (though it can be argued that it about a lot), and despite feeling improvised, the screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury says there was a script with an improved feel.  If you have to watch one Altman film, I recommend this film because it really shows the style that he is known for and he demonstrated in Short Cuts and Gosford Park (you probably should add MASH to his “must” list).  The scene in which Carradine is singing “I’m Easy” is a fantastic example of directing (with all the characters in the scene believing the song is about them).

What Altman does with Nashville is get some of the best performances ever from a number of actors and actresses.  The whole cast is great, and a working cast is necessary in a show without much of plot driven script.  The actors actually wrote all their own songs (which is rather impressive) and as mentioned Carradine actually won an award for his.  I am constantly impressed by the little nuances in the film that make it fun though there was kickback from actual Nashville performers who felt the movie mocked country music and the city.

nashville david peel geraldine chaplin

Oh, Opal…I love you

The movie is also one of those snappy edited movies.  It spends a lot of time in some areas and is not afraid to hang on an actor or conversation.  It is a very modern looking movie and how Altman got ahead in Hollywood by innovating the look of his pictures.

Nashville is a great film which had a big impact on other films.  Paul Thomas Anderson used the format a basis for his film Magnolia which had a similar format.  It isn’t for everyone, and doesn’t have much of a story, but it is well worth seeking out if you are a fan of great acting.  I love Nashville, but if you don’t enjoy it, “It don’t worry me”.  Altman followed Nashville with Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson in 1976.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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