ROBERT ALTMAN’S BREWSTER MCCLOUD — A REVIEW BY NICK CLEMENT

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Absolutely one of the more peculiar and beguiling films that I can think of and absolutely the product of the 1970’s, and in particular, the fertile and restless mind of filmmaker Robert Altman, the strange and silly and all-together funky Brewster McCloud feels like a movie that was willed into existence by a group of very stoned people all looking to make one of the ultimate “How Did This Get Made” feature films. Released in 1970 and starring a pre-Harold and Maude Bud Cort as the bizarre titular character, the plot revolves around a possible lunatic living in the Houston Metrodome who is building a pair of mechanical wings in the hopes of taking flight. Right from the beginning when the MGM lion roar is replaced by René Auberjonois’ voice saying “I forgot the opening line,” you know you’re in for something weird and wacky.

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And because Altman had just had a massive hit with M*A*S*H (his next film would be McCabe and Mrs. Miller), he was essentially allowed to make whatever film he wanted, and thankfully, his eccentric sense of humor and overall oddball leanings helped to birth Brewster McCloud with screenwriter Doran William Cannon and dual cinematographers Jordan Cronenweth and Lamar Boren. Mix in a serial killer plot, Michael Murphy as an obsessed cop, kooky Shelley Duvall as Cort’s possible love interest, sexy-strange Sally Kellerman, a crazy car chase, and one of the more surreal endings to a movie that I can think of, and you have the genuinely whacked-out Brewster McCloud, a film that could never get made today, or really, at any other point than when it was. Also, take special note of the various Wizard of Oz references scattered all throughout the picture.

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