Memorably described by Pauline Kael as a beautiful pipe dream of a movie, Robert Altman's McCabe & Mrs. Miller reimagines the American West as a muddy frontier filled with hustlers, opportunists, and corporate sharks -- a turn-of-the-century model for a 1971 America mired in violence and lies.
John McCabe (Warren Beatty) wanders into the turn-of-the-century wilderness village known as Presbyterian Church, with vague plans of parlaying his gambling winnings into establishing a fancy casino-brothel-bathhouse. McCabe's business partner is prostitute Mrs. Miller (Julie Christie), who despite her apparent distaste for McCabe helps him achieve his goal.
Once McCabe and Mrs. Miller become successful, the town grows and prospers, incurring the jealousy of a local mining company that wants to buy McCabe out. Filmed on location in Canada, McCabe & Mrs. Miller makes use of such Altman stock company performers as Shelley Duvall, René Auberjonois, John Schuck, and Keith Carradine.
The seemingly improvised screenplay was based on a novel by Edmund Naughton and the movie features a soundtrack of songs by Leonard Cohen. McCabe & Mrs. Miller joined such other Altman efforts as M*A*S*H, The Long Goodbye, and Thieves Like Us in radically revising familiar movie genres for the disillusioned Vietnam era.