Every story happening and every character present seem to, at the same time, tell a nostalgic ol' western tale and be it's subtly humorous critique. By challenging all kinds of genre conventions, Altman created an inventive film somewhere between classical and neo-Western. Dreamy visuals are worthy of anything Tarkovski would make, and are to thank for launching Vilmos Zsigmonds' carrer.
The tale of a typical western tough guy who is on an endeavour to build saloons and be rich, who finds himself becoming increasingly infatuated with an usually strong woman, one feminists would be proud of, although her profession would nowadays be frowned upon. By showing the fragile, emotional side of the hero I feel ALTMAN has done something unique with a western. The theme song by COHEN wonderfully supports this.
McCabe & Mrs. Miller is a film which seems to develop in large part without any real or at least palpable tension. Whether it be amorous or anything else, one can't really sense what's at stake for the bunch of people that are screened. I think this is largely due to the sketchy script. Yet it's quite entertaining and a joy to watch, a combination of characteristics that runs across Altman's oeuvre.
Crime, alcohol and prostitution are the foundations of American civilization. Pity, then, that this saggy and boring affair is no match for its own sarcastic stance. It rather resembles the abysmal 'Popeye' — people in costumes trapped on a hillside, in a film set that looks like a film set. Plus awfully faked snow.
Peculiar fragile age for the solitary-type product of the North American counterculture where he sort of cries off and on through the near-entirety of McCabe and Mrs. Miller from the shot of the egg onward. I remember seeing it projected on 35 when I was a teenager. This really feels like a superlative period piece about the poetic gestalt of its own time period. Hence the Leonard Coen. The snow happened 'cause God.
(...)Überhaupt; man beachte den Titel: McCabe & Mrs. Miller. Das verheisst keinerlei persönliche Beziehung, klingt wie ein Firmenname. Ein geschäftliches Arrangement. Alles, was Mrs. Miller tut, ist geschäftlich. Was mag sie hinter sich haben? Sicher nur; sie liess alles zurück. Der arme McCabe. Er mag ein Poet sein, doch das ist einerlei in Presbyterian Church. (...)