Nashville (film)

Last updated
Nashville (movie poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Altman
Produced by
Written by Joan Tewkesbury
Music by Richard Baskin
Cinematography Paul Lohmann
Edited by
  • Dennis M. Hill
  • Sidney Levin
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
  • June 11, 1975 (1975-06-11)
Running time
160 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$2.2 million [1]
Box office$10 million [2]

Nashville is a 1975 American satirical musical ensemble comedy-drama film directed by Robert Altman. The film follows various people involved in the country and gospel music businesses in Nashville, Tennessee over a five-day period, leading up to a gala concert for a populist outsider running for President on the Replacement Party ticket.

Satire Genre of arts and literature in the form of humor or ridicule

In fiction and less frequently in non-fiction, satire is a genre of literature and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government, or society itself into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be humorous, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society.

Musical film Film genre

Musical film is a film genre in which songs sung by the characters are interwoven into the narrative, sometimes accompanied by dancing.

In a dramatic production, an ensemble cast is one which comprises multiple principal actors and performers who are typically assigned roughly equal amounts of screen time.


Nashville is often noted for its scope. The film contains 24 main characters, an hour of musical numbers, and multiple storylines. Its large ensemble cast includes David Arkin, Barbara Baxley, Ned Beatty, Karen Black, Ronee Blakley, Timothy Brown, Keith Carradine, Geraldine Chaplin, Robert DoQui, Shelley Duvall, Allen Garfield, Henry Gibson, Scott Glenn, Jeff Goldblum, Barbara Harris, David Hayward, Michael Murphy, Allan F. Nicholls, Dave Peel, Cristina Raines, Bert Remsen, Lily Tomlin, Gwen Welles, and Keenan Wynn.

David Arkin Actor

David Arkin was an American actor, known for his numerous supporting appearances in the films of Robert Altman. These roles were part of Altman's frequent ensemble and included Staff Sergeant Vollmer in MASH, Harry in The Long Goodbye (1973), Norman in Nashville (1975), and The Mailman/The Police Officer in Popeye (1980).

Barbara Baxley American actress

Barbara Angie Rose Baxley was an American actress and singer.

Ned Beatty American actor

Ned Thomas Beatty is a retired American actor. He has appeared in more than 160 films and has been nominated for an Academy Award, two Emmy Awards, an MTV Movie Award for Best Villain and a Golden Globe Award; he also won a Drama Desk Award.

The screenplay for Nashville was written by Altman's frequent collaborator Joan Tewkesbury, based partly on her experiences as an outsider visiting the city and observing its local music industry. Several incidents she experienced appear in the finished film, though Altman improvised numerous additional scenes and plot strands during filming. The film was shot on location in Nashville in 1974.

Joan Tewkesbury is an American film and television director, screenwriter, producer and actress. She had a long association with the celebrated director Robert Altman, and wrote the screenplays for two of his films, Thieves Like Us (1974) and Nashville (1975). Nashville has been called "Altman's masterpiece", and Tewkesbury's screenplay was widely honored including a nomination for the BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay. Beyond the work with Altman, Tewkesbury has directed and written many television movies and episodes for television series. Tewkesbury is the author of the novel, Ebba and the Green Dresses of Olivia Gomez in a Time ofConflict and War, Hand to Hand,2011.

Nashville was released by Paramount Pictures in the summer of 1975, and opened to largely positive reviews. It garnered numerous accolades, including five Academy Award nominations, including one win for Best Original Song for Carradine's track "I'm Easy". The film was also nominated for a total of 11 Golden Globe Awards, to date the highest number of nominations received by one film.

Paramount Pictures Major film studio in America, specializing in film and television production, and distribution.

Paramount Pictures Corporation is an American film studio based in Hollywood, California, that has been a subsidiary of the American media conglomerate Viacom since 1994. Paramount is the fifth oldest surviving film studio in the world, the second oldest in the United States, and the sole member of the "Big Five" film studios still located in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Hollywood.

The Academy Award for Best Original Song is one of the awards given annually to people working in the motion picture industry by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). It is presented to the songwriters who have composed the best original song written specifically for a film. The performers of a song are not credited with the Academy Award unless they contributed either to music, lyrics or both in their own right. The songs that are nominated for this award are performed during the ceremony and before this award is presented.

Im Easy (Keith Carradine song) 1976 single by Keith Carradine

"I'm Easy" is an Academy Award-winning song written and performed by Keith Carradine for the 1975 movie Nashville. Carradine recorded a slightly faster version that became a popular music hit in 1976 in the United States.

Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1992, it is now considered Altman's magnum opus, [3] [4] and one of the greatest films of all time.

National Film Registry Selection of films for preservation in the US Library of Congress

The National Film Registry (NFR) is the United States National Film Preservation Board's (NFPB) selection of films deserving of preservation. The NFPB, established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, was reauthorized by acts of Congress in 1992, 1996, 2005, and again in October 2008. The NFPB's mission, to which the NFR contributes, is to ensure the survival, conservation, and increased public availability of America's film heritage. The 1996 law also created the non-profit National Film Preservation Foundation which, although affiliated with the NFPB, raises money from the private sector.

Masterpiece Creation that has been given much critical praise

Masterpiece, magnum opus or chef-d’œuvre in modern use is a creation that has been given much critical praise, especially one that is considered the greatest work of a person's career or to a work of outstanding creativity, skill, profundity, or workmanship. Historically, a "masterpiece" was a work of a very high standard produced to obtain membership of a guild or academy in various areas of the visual arts and crafts.


Hal Philip Walker, a Replacement Party candidate in an upcoming election, arrives in Nashville for a fundraising gala. Meanwhile, country superstar Haven Hamilton records a patriotic song commemorating the upcoming Bicentennial. Opal, an Englishwoman who claims to be working on a documentary for the BBC, attempts to listen in on the sessions. Later that day, country singer Barbara Jean returns to Nashville following a burn accident, and is greeted at Berry Field by local industry elites, including Haven and his companion Lady Pearl, a nightclub owner. Also present are Pfc. Glenn Kelly, who is obsessed with Barbara Jean, and a popular folk trio consisting of married couple Bill and Mary, and guitarist Tom, who are in town to record an album. Meanwhile, Martha, a teen groupie going by the name "L.A. Joan," is picked up by her uncle, Mr. Green, at the airport; she has arrived to visit her dying aunt Esther, but covertly plans to pursue musicians. In the airport cafe, African-American cook Wade Cooley and his co-worker, a waitress named Sueleen, discuss her aspirations to become a singer.

Nashville, Tennessee State capital and consolidated city-county in Tennessee, United States

Nashville is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Tennessee. The city is the county seat of Davidson County and is located on the Cumberland River. The city's population ranks 24th in the U.S. According to 2018 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the total consolidated city-county population stood at 692,587. The "balance" population, which excludes semi-independent municipalities within Davidson County, was 669,053 in 2018.

United States Bicentennial 200th anniversary of the USA in 1976

The United States Bicentennial was a series of celebrations and observances during the mid-1970s that paid tribute to historical events leading up to the creation of the United States of America as an independent republic. It was a central event in the memory of the American Revolution. The Bicentennial culminated on Sunday, July 4, 1976, with the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters are at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London, and it is the world's oldest national broadcasting organisation and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees. It employs over 22,000 staff in total, with more than 16,000 of whom are in public sector broadcasting. The total number of staff is 35,402 when part-time, flexible, and fixed-contract staff are included.

On the tarmac, Barbara Jean collapses from heat exhaustion, and those in attendance depart the airport only to become stranded after a vehicle pile-up occurs. During the commotion, Winifred, an aspiring country singer, runs away from her husband Star; Star then gives a ride to Kenny Frasier, who has just arrived in town carrying a violin case. Opal takes advantage of the traffic jam to interview Linnea Reese, a white gospel singer, and Tommy Brown, an African-American country singer. That night, Sueleen performs at an open mic at Lady Pearl's club, demonstrating no singing ability. Meanwhile, Linnea's husband Del has John Triplette, Walker's political organizer, over for dinner. Throughout the meal, Linnea mainly focuses on communicating with her two deaf children. Tom, who crossed paths with Linnea earlier that day, phones the house to ask Linnea on a date, but she dissuades him. Glamorous singer Connie White also performs that night, in lieu of Barbara Jean at the Grand Ole Opry. Mary misses Connie's performance to Bill's dismay, instead having sex with Tom at the hotel. At the hospital, Barbara Jean argues with her manager husband Barnett over Connie replacing her, and he accuses her of having another nervous breakdown.

On Sunday morning, Lady Pearl, Wade, and Sueleen attend a Catholic mass, while Linnea sings in the choir of a black Baptist church. In the hospital chapel, Barbara Jean sings "In the Garden" from her wheelchair while Mr. Green, Pfc. Kelly, and others watch. Opal wanders through a massive auto scrapyard, recording observations on a tape recorder. Haven, Tommy, and their families attend the stock car races, where Winifred unsuccessfully attempts to sing on a small stage. Bill and Mary argue in their hotel room and are interrupted by Triplette, who recruits them to perform at the gala, while Tom tries to get chauffeur Norman to score him drugs.

After Barbara Jean is discharged, she gives a performance at Opryland USA that ends in her being pulled off stage as she rambles between songs. To remediate her poor performance, Barnett pledges her to perform at Walker's gala. Martha meanwhile agitates Kenny, who is renting a room in her uncle's house, when she attempts to investigate his violin case. At Lady Pearl's club that night, Linnea, Martha, Bill, Mary, Opal, Norman and Wade are among those attending an open mic. Tom sings "I'm Easy" and Linnea, moved, goes back to his room where they have sex. Meanwhile, at an all-male Walker fundraiser, Sueleen is booed off stage for singing poorly; Del and Triplette convince her to perform a striptease in exchange for a slot at the gala. A drunken Del later comes onto Sueleen, but she is saved by Wade.

The next morning, the performers and audience converge at the Parthenon for Walker's gala concert. The lineup consists of Haven, Barbara Jean, Linnea and her choir, Mary and Tom, and Sueleen; Winifred also arrives, hoping to sing. Meanwhile, Mr. Green and Kenny arrive at the gala searching for Martha, who has failed to attend her aunt Esther's funeral, and find her accompanying Bill. During Barbara Jean's set, Kenny produces a gun from his violin case, and begins shooting at the stage. A bullet grazes Haven's arm, but Barbara Jean is seriously injured. Pfc. Kelly disarms Kenny as chaos breaks out. Barbara Jean is carried from the stage, bleeding and unconscious, while Haven tries to calm the crowd by exhorting them to sing, asserting that "This isn't Dallas". Winifred is handed the microphone in the melee, and begins singing "It Don't Worry Me", joined by Linnea's gospel choir.


Major characters

Minor characters

There are cameo appearances by Elliott Gould, Julie Christie, Vassar Clements and Howard K. Smith, all playing themselves. Gould and Christie were passing through Nashville when Altman added them. Altman himself plays Bob, an unseen producer who in the beginning of the film is producing Haven Hamilton's song "200 Years." He can be heard on a speaker when Hamilton gets agitated by Frog's inept piano playing.

Analysis and themes

In a 1995 academic article published in American Quarterly , Paul Lauter, a professor of American Studies at Trinity College, compared the film to "a poststructuralist theoretical text", adding that "it invites, indeed valorizes, contradiction and seems designed to resist closure." [13] As a result, he explained, "interpretations of the film have been wildly divergent and evaluations contradictory." [13]

Political content

Film scholars Yoram Allon, Del Cullen, and Hannah Patterson describe Nashville as an "epic study of ambition, greed, talent, and politics in American culture, with the country and western music businesses serving as a microcosm of American society." [14] Ray Sawhill of Salon views the film as reflective of the 1970s' political climate, writing that the film "comes across as a piece of New Journalism; it's like Norman Mailer's reports from conventions and rallies. Altman is using Nashville metaphorically—he's really talking about politics. I wish he didn't make that quite so explicit. There's a reference to Dallas and a few to the Kennedys, as well as some red-white-and-blue visual cues, that the film could have done without. Still, the result is an X-ray of the era's uneasy political soul. What it reveals is a country trying to pull itself together from a nervous breakdown." [15]


Sawhill suggests that the film is preoccupied with "a populist culture driving itself mad with celebrity" and presents Nashville as a "provincial New York or Hollywood, as one of the places where the culture manufactures its image of itself." [15] He cites the various recording and communication devices present as evidence of this: "wires, phones, intercoms, cameras, mikes, speakers—seem to be everywhere; so does the machinery of publicity and fame. We watch the city recording itself, playing itself back to itself and marketing that image to itself. We eavesdrop on the culture's conversation with itself. We're watching people decide how they want to see themselves and how they want to sell themselves." [15]



"[Connie and Barbara Jean] are the personification of Nashville rivalries...  the prototype of what Nashville music wanted its women to look like. Tammy Wynette. Dolly [Parton]. These women are tough, but my God they believe in religion. Dolly is up at four in the morning writing her songs and saying her prayers and she is not bullshitting you about that. There is great heart to these women."

—Screenwriter Tewkesbury on the basis of Connie and Barbara Jean [16]

The original screenplay for Nashville was written by Joan Tewkesbury, who had collaborated with Altman on several of his films, including McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971) and Thieves Like Us (1974). [17] She had proposed a Nashville-set film to Altman prior to his filming of McCabe & Mrs. Miller; he became interested in the setting and sent Tewkesbury to Nashville in the fall of 1973 to observe the area and its citizenry. [18] Tewkesbury's diary of her trip provided the basis for the screenplay, with many observations making it into the finished film, such as the highway pileup. [19] However, as with most Altman projects, much of the dialogue was improvised with the script acting as a "blueprint" dictating the actions of the characters and the plot. [20]

Tewkesbury, who was working as an instructor at the University of Southern California, rewrote her screenplay several times. [21] In the original draft, the film opened with a scene featuring Tom on the street in New York City prior to his arrival in Nashville. [22] Tewkesbury had been partly inspired to write the film based on her observations of the music industry being geographically "pulled apart. The country-western thing had suddenly exploded in Nashville, but [musicians] still had to come to New York for getting paid, and business deals." [16] None of Tewkesbury's incarnations of the screenplay featured any death scenes, but Altman, who had a "penchant for the tragic denouement," proposed the idea that Barbara Jean would be assassinated in the finale. [23]

Numerous characters in Nashville are based on real country music figures: Henry Gibson's Haven Hamilton is a composite of Roy Acuff, Hank Snow, and Porter Wagoner; Ronee Blakley's Barbara Jean is based on Loretta Lynn [16] ; the black country singer Tommy Brown (played by Timothy Brown) is based on Charley Pride [16] ; and the feuding folk trio is based on Peter, Paul and Mary; within the trio, the married couple of Bill and Mary were inspired by Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert, who later became Starland Vocal Band. [24] Keith Carradine's character is believed to be inspired by Kris Kristofferson, and Karen Black's Connie White was conceived as a composite of Lynn Anderson (who herself spoke unfavorably of the film after its release [25] ), Tammy Wynette, and Dolly Parton. [16] Other characters were based or inspired on real persons: Linnea was inspired by Louise Fletcher, who had appeared in Altman's Thieves Like Us (1973), and who had two deaf parents. [26]


Ronee Blakely 1976.JPG
Karen Black Five Easy Pieces 1970.jpg
Ronee Blakley and Karen Black were cast as Barbara Jean and Connie, the respective country music rivals

As with most of Altman's feature films, he cast the roles using unorthodox methods, forgoing standard auditions and instead basing his decisions off meetings with individual actors. [27] Geraldine Chaplin, daughter of Charlie Chaplin and Oona O'Neill, was the first to be cast, appearing in the role of Opal, the chatty journalist who has arrived from out of town to cover the gala. [28] Screenwriter Tewkesbury, who had based the character of Opal on herself, selected Chaplin for the role long before the production had even secured funding. [29] Altman flew Chaplin from her residence in Switzerland to Nashville, and she toured the city with Tewkesbury in preparation for the role. [30]

Several Altman regulars were cast in the film, among them Keith Carradine as Tom, the dashing folk singer who woos several of the female characters, [31] and Shelley Duvall as Martha, the young groupie. [11] Both Carradine and Duvall had had minor roles in McCabe & Mrs. Miller, and had co-starred in Thieves Like Us. [32] Through Carradine, Altman met Allan Nicholls, Carradine's co-star from a Broadway production of Hair . [31] After a meeting, Altman offered Nicholls the role of Bill. [31] Cristina Raines, Carradine's real-life girlfriend at the time, was given the role of Mary, the female counterpart in Bill and Tom's folk trio. [33]

Karen Black was cast in the role of glamorous singer Connie White after having approached Altman to appear in a prior film, the psychological thriller Images (1972). [34] Black, who had been writing and singing songs in the interim, was cast in Nashville after performing several original songs for Altman. [35] The role of Barbara Jean had not been filled when filming was about to commence. Ronee Blakley, a singer-songwriter from Idaho with no acting experience, [36] was in Nashville at the time and took on the role at the last minute, having been hired to write several songs for the film. [37] Barbara Harris, primarily a stage actress, was given the role of fledgling singer Winifred, [38] while Gwen Welles was cast as Sueleen, a waitress who longs to be a singer. [39]

In the role of Linnea Reese, the gospel singer and dedicated mother, Altman cast Lily Tomlin, who at the time had no prior film experience, having worked exclusively in television. [40] "When I got the script, I didn't even know what part I was being considered for," Tomlin recalled. "But I thought, I could play any one of these parts. Even the boys." [40] Ned Beatty was cast as Del, Linnea's lawyer husband. [41] Robert Duvall was initially sought for the role of Haven Hamilton, the country superstar, but he declined the role based on Altman's low salary offer. [42] Instead, Altman cast Henry Gibson in the part. [42] Altman struggled finding an actor to portray Bud Hamilton, the Harvard-graduate son of country superstar Haven. [43] While preparing for his role as Haven, Gibson began taking guitar lessons in Santa Monica, and met David Peel, a guitar instructor, who bore a significant resemblance to him. [43] After meeting with Peel, Altman cast him as Bud. [44]


The film was shot on location in Nashville in the summer of 1974 on a budget of $2.2 million. [45] In late June, the cast began arriving in Nashville; Carradine and Raines traveled together from Los Angeles, while Beatty arrived and hitched a camper where he resided along with his wife through the duration of the shoot. [46] Beatty recalled an early meeting in which Altman had the cast convene prior to filming: "Bob gets us together in this room. We're all ready to start the movie. And he said, 'Look, I want you to have fun with this. There is only one thing we have to remember. Every character in this movie loves one character. Every one of these characters loves Barbara Jean.' Well, within a short time Ronee Blakley was the only actor in the film who was universally disliked." [36] Throughout the shoot, Altman and Blakley had several disputes regarding her character, and Blakley sometimes rewrote her scenes to Altman's dismay. [36]

The Parthenon in Nashville, location of the climactic final scene
The Parthenon in Nashville, location of the climactic final scene

Locations featured in the film include the Nashville International Airport, [47] and the Exit/In, a Nashville club which screenwriter Tewkesbury had frequented during her trips there. [48] The scene in which Carradine's character performs "I'm Easy" was shot at this club. [48] Altman's log cabin-style house on the outskirts of Nashville was used as the home of Haven and Lady Pearl. [49] The film's climactic assassination sequence, which takes places at the Parthenon, was originally intended to take place at the Ryman Auditorium. [50] However, Altman was forced to change the locale when he was unable to secure access to the then-recently shuttered Ryman Auditorium. [50] Walker, the climactic assassination, the political theme and various associated characters (such as Haven Hamilton) do not appear in the earliest versions of the script, and were integrated into the screenplay throughout filming. [51]

All of the musical scenes featured in the film are actual live concert footage. [52]

The hospital scenes centered on Barbara Jean were filmed in a local hospital that had been closed; one floor of it was refurbished for use in filming.

Nearly all of the extras in the film were Nashville locals. Many of them were not actively participating in the film but simply happened to be at the location where the cast and crew were filming at the time. Recording session legend Lloyd Green ("Mr. Nashville Sound") can be seen playing pedal steel guitar in the opening studio scene. Jeff Newman, also known for the pedal steel, is sitting next to him playing a banjo.


Nashville's opening title sequence was designed by the film title designer Dan Perri, who had recently enjoyed his big break with his work on The Exorcist (1973). Under Altman's direction, Perri based the film's unusual, kitschy title sequence on low-budget K-Tel Records television commercials, and bought in Johnny Grant to provide the loud, brash voiceover. Perri later went on to design titles for a number of other major Hollywood pictures, including Taxi Driver (1976), Star Wars (1977), and Raging Bull (1980). [53]

Altman had enough footage to produce a four-hour film, and assistant director Alan Rudolph suggested he create an expanded version of Nashville to be shown in two parts, "Nashville Red" and "Nashville Blue", but the film ultimately remained intact. [54] After a rush of critical acclaim, ABC expressed interest in a proposal for a 10-hour miniseries of Nashville, based on the footage not used in the final cut, but plans for the project were scrapped. [54] The additional footage has not been made available on DVD releases.

However, in a 2000 interview with The A.V. Club, Altman disputed the claim that he had several hours worth of deleted scenes to cut another feature-length film (or two) out of. Altman claimed that there "were no deleted scenes" and that "almost everything we shot is in that film". Altman further stated the unseen, extra footage that wasn't used in the final cut of the film was mainly music and not much else.


Many of the actors and actresses in the film composed the songs they performed in the film. Blakley wrote several tracks, including "Bluebird", performed by Timothy Brown, and "Tapedeck in His Tractor" and "My Idaho Home", performed by Blakley herself. [55] Karen Black also wrote "Memphis" and "Rolling Stone", the two songs she performed in the character of Connie White. [56] Carradine wrote and performed "I'm Easy," which won an Academy Award for Best Original Song [57] and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song - Motion Picture. [58] Additionally, Carradine wrote "It Don't Worry Me", which is heard on the soundtrack throughout the film, and is the closing number performed by Barbara Harris onstage at the Parthenon. [59]

Composer Richard Baskin composed songs for Henry Gibson to sing in character as Haven Hamilton. [39] Several Nashville session musicians also took part in the music recording and in the film itself, including violinist Vassar Clements [60] and guitarist Harold Bradley.

While the music featured in the film was viewed in the Nashville music industry as mean-spirited satire, [61] the songs have achieved a cult-status among alternative country musicians. In 2002, the album, A Tribute to Robert Altman's Nashville was released, featuring interpretations of the film's songs by Canadian alt-country figures, including Carolyn Mark, Kelly Hogan and Neko Case.

ABC Records issued a motion picture soundtrack to the film in 1975, featuring the various original musical numbers. [62] It was reissued by MCA Nashville in 2015. [63]

Non-album tracks

  • "Yes, I Do," composed by Richard Baskin and Lily Tomlin; performed by Lily Tomlin
  • "Down to the River," written and performed by Ronee Blakley
  • "Let Me Be the One," written by Richard Baskin; performed by Gwen Welles
  • "Sing a Song", written by Joe Raposo
  • "The Heart of a Gentle Woman," written and performed by Dave Peel
  • "The Day I Looked Jesus in the Eye," written by Richard Baskin and Robert Altman
  • "I Don't Know If I Found It in You," written and performed by Karen Black
  • "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," traditional
  • "Honey," written and performed by Keith Carradine
  • "I Never Get Enough," written by Richard Baskin and Ben Raleigh; performed by Gwen Welles
  • "Rose's Cafe," written and performed by Allan F. Nicholls
  • "Old Man Mississippi," written by Juan Grizzle
  • "My Baby's Cookin' in Another Man's Pan," written and performed by Jonnie Barnett
  • "Since You've Gone," written by Gary Busey, performed by Allan F. Nicholls, Cristina Raines and Keith Carradine
  • "Trouble in the U.S.A.," written by Arlene Barnett
  • "In the Garden," written by C. Austin Miles, performed by Ronee Blakley


Box office

The film was a box office success, with theatrical rentals of $6.8 million in North America by 1976. [64] According to a piece in Film Comment "it is still amazing to me that the impression was so prevalent in the cultural reaches of Manhattan that Nashville was one of the year's commercial blockbusters rather than, as it was, the twenty-seventh highest-grossing film of the year." [65] The film grossed approximately $10 million in the United States. [2]

Critical response

Nashville received significant attention from critics, with Patrick McGilligan of The Boston Globe writing that it was "perhaps the most talked about American movie since Orson Welles' Citizen Kane . [66] Pauline Kael described it as "the funniest epic vision of America ever to reach the screen". [67] Gene Siskel, Roger Ebert, and Leonard Maltin gave the film four-star reviews and called it the best film of 1975. In his original review, Ebert wrote "after I saw it I felt more alive, I felt I understood more about people, I felt somehow wiser. It's that good a movie." [68] On August 6, 2000, Ebert included it in his The Great Movies compilation. [69]

Vincent Canby of The New York Times praised the film's music as "funny, moving and almost nonstop" as well as its "well‐defined structure, [in which] individual sequences often burst virith the kind of life that seems impossible to plan." [70] Writing for the New York Daily News , Harry Haun praised the film's attention to detail and characterization, noting: "I have seen Nashville 4½ times, and I'm still discovering dimensions that had eluded me." [71] Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times praised the humor, which he noted as ranging "from slapstick to satire," and commended the film as "the most original and provocative American movie in a very long time." [72]

According to film critic Ruth McCormick, however, after an initial wave of praise, a critical backlash ensued. "Robert Mazzocco in The New York Review of Books, Greil Marcus in The Village Voice and John Malone in The New York Times wrote articles that ranged from debunking the hype and calling Nashville superficial and overrated, to absolutely hating the film for its aesthetic shortcomings or its purported pessimism, cynicism and sexism." [73]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 93% based on 54 reviews, with an average rating of 8.76/10. [74]


The film was widely despised by the mainstream country-music community at the time of its release; many artists believed it ridiculed their talent and sincerity. [25] Altman felt they were mad because he chose not to use their music in favor of letting the actors compose their own material. However, he stated the movie has since become popular in the city among more recent generations. [75]

The film garnered further attention in 1980 due to its climactic shooting scene of Barbara Jean, as it predated, but eerily mirrored, what would be the murder of John Lennon. In an interview on 2000 DVD release, Altman remarks that after Lennon's death, reporters questioned the director about Nashville and its harbinger of the assassination of a music star.

Robert Altman: "When John Lennon got assassinated, I get a call immediately from the Washington Post and they said, 'Do you feel responsible for this?' and I said 'What do you mean, responsible?' 'Well, I mean you're the one that predicted there would be a political assassination of a star.' 'And I said 'Well, I don't feel responsible,' but I said, 'but don't you feel responsible for not heeding my warning?' The statement here is, these people are not assassinated because of their ideas or what they do. They're assassinated to draw attention to the assassin. And in political assassinations, in their sort of warped minds, they know that they are going to have a certain amount of people who said 'that son of a bitch [the politician] should have been shot,' because there's such heat about it. But actually what they are doing is killing somebody who's in the public eye and is some sort of an icon. Because this feeling that by doing that, committing that assassination they draw the attention to themself, and they make themselves consequently important. Ah, and it's no surprise to me, the Lennon assassination, because this is what all that is, and I don't think we have seen the end of it either." [76]

Home media

Paramount Home Video released Nashville on VHS and DVD in 2000. [77] In 2013, The Criterion Collection released a Blu-ray edition of the film featuring a new scan and supplemental features, including an archival commentary with Altman as well as archival interviews, and a new documentary piece. [77]


Nashville received numerous awards and nominations from various critical organizations, including a total of 11 Golden Globe nominations, which, as of 2019, are the most ever received by one film. It also received four nominations in a single acting category; this was and remains unprecedented for major film award shows.

It won a BAFTA Film Award for Best Sound Track. Altman won for best director from: Cartagena Film Festival; Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards; National Board of Review; National Society of Film Critics Awards; and the New York Film Critics Circle Awards. Lily Tomlin was awarded the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress.


Plans were discussed for a sequel set 12 years later and titled Nashville 12, and most of the original players agreed to appear. In the script for the sequel, Lily Tomlin's character, Linnea, is running for political office; and Barnett now managing Connie White and obsessed with a Barbara Jean impersonator. [78]

Contemporarily, Nashville is regarded in critical circles as Altman's magnum opus, [3] [4] as well as one of the greatest films of all time. [79] In 1992, Nashville was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". In 2007, the movie was ranked No. 59 on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies - 10th Anniversary Edition list; it did not appear on the original 1998 list. The song "I'm Easy" was named the 81st Best Song of All Time by the American Film Institute (AFI). In 2013, Entertainment Weekly ranked it the ninth-greatest film in history. [80]

See also

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