Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Robert Altman's "Three Women" on DVD (finally!)

1977 was a great year for American movies. There was Richard Dreyfus making a model of the Devil's Tower mountain out of mashed potatoes and the goofy kid with the pageboy learning how to handle a light sabre. And those weren't even the best of the crop. There was Woody Allen analysing his doomed relationship with a midwestern girl with an an unusual sense of fashion. There were brilliant, underrated, Altmanesque views of small town values (Jonathon Demme's "Citizen's Band") and big city alternative media (Joan Silver's "Between the Lines") - both films sadly unavailable on DVD. But the best film of 1977 came from Robert Altman, returning to psychological territory he had explored earlier in "That Cold Day in the Park" and "Images". Those two films had been dismissed as failed excursions into "Repulsion" territory, but with "Three Women", Altman blazed his own trail into the feminine psyche, adapting the film from one of his own dreams. It's a unique horror-comedy about women who hide their on identities to conform to the expectations of society. Sissy Spacek plays Pinky, a childlike innocent who falls under the spell of Rose (Shelley Duvall), a young woman who wears her superficiality like a medal, proudly pointing out the "best" parking spaces or delighting in her recipe for "pigs in a blanket". Rounding out the trilogy is Janice Rule, a mysterious artist who has given up on the social games that rule Rose's life.
Never before released on video in any form, "Three Woman" is finally available in gorgeous Panavision, courtesy of the Criterion Collection.

P.S. "Three Women" isn't the only Altman film making an overdue video appearance. His adaptation of Sam Shepard's "Fool for Love", starring Shepard, Kim Basinger and - - HARRY DEAN STANTON !!! --- has also just been released. Now if they'll just get around to bringing out "Thieves Like Us" or "California Split" or "Brewster McCloud" or "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean" ....

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