on June 11, 1975 by BOXOFFICE Staff
Music City, U.S.A. is Nashville, Tennessee, where country and western music is usually born. Producer-director Robert Altman, using a script by Joan Tewkesbury, has made a monumental and episodic story filmed on the spot and interweaving multiple story threads with a cast of 24 principals, many from the Altman stock company. Intriguing, absorbing and always entertaining, the Paramount release is marred for the most part by a downbeat ending. Except for that, there is much to praise: the sharp dialogue, the behind-the-scenes look at an important type of American music and at a political campaign, intelligent performances down the long line of players and a lot of songs mingled with numerous funny moments. Karen Black is the closest to being a major star, but her footage is very limited. Stars Elliot Gould and Julie Christie have guest appearances which poke fun at their images. Two former stars of the "Laugh-In" TV show deserve mention for their acting and singing: Lily Tomlin and Henry Gibson, who also contributed some of the songs, as did co-stars Keith Carradine, Ronee Blakely, Dave Peel, Allan Nicholls, Jonnie Barnett, Ms. Black and Richard Baskin. In Panavision and color by MGM Film Laboratories, this could be a major hit.

During the campaign of Presidential candidate Hal Phillip Walker in Nashville, the lives of many are intermingled when advance man Michael Murphy sets up a rally. Singing stars Henry Gibson and Karen Black agree to perform, while Ronee Blakely -- the number one singer -- suffers a setback after recovering from an accident and is cared for by husband-manager Allen Garfield. BBC reporter Geraldine Chaplin does a running account of the events, including an auto crash, and has relations with stud Keith Carradine, of a musical trio which includes husband and wife Allan Nicholls and Cristina Raines. Carradine also has sessions with Raines and with Lily Tomlin, white singer in a black gospel group, mother of two deaf children and wife of lawyer Ned Beatty, who is aiding Murphy. Groupie Shelly Duvall attaches herself to Carradine. Her uncle Keenan Wynn can't get Duvall to visit his dying wife. Wynn's roomer, David Hayward, kills Blakely and wounds Gibson at the big outdoor rally. Aspiring singer Barbara Harris performs, while Gwen Welles, a bad singer who had to perform a striptease to be given her chance, is too shocked to go on.

Country and western tie-ins are naturals, there being a wealth of songs performed by stars and artists.

Go to Nashville for fame, fortune and a chance at a better way of life... The home of country music. Paramount 159 mins.

Tags: Ronee Blakely, Robert Altman, Elliot Gould, Julie Christie, Lily Tomlin, Henry Gibson, Keith Carradine, Karen Black, country music, politics, Shelley Duvall, ensemble

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