Movie: McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971)

Any Deadwood fan should check this movie out, as many of the show’s plots are identical to the plots of this film. This is a ‘northern’ western film interesting for not only it’s weather changes during the movie, but the fact that (like Deadwood) the set was built as the movie was filmed following the plotline of a tiny mining thorp becoming a small town.

The plot follows a gambler named McCabe who comes upon a mining ‘town’ that is nearly all men. He sets upon the idea to set up a whorehouse that begins as a row of tents (same as Deadwood) and then commences to invest in a building for gambling and prostitution. He is propositioned by a Mrs. Miller, a whore and junkie (though this is a secret to him) to help run his whores as he is having issues dealing with the women. He eventually agrees, and agrees to build a bath house to which all the men must go before setting to fucking allowing Mrs. Miller to bring higher class whores to the town, which she does.

This set up becomes profitable and (again like Deadwood) some stock company attempts to buy him out with interest in the mining area. There is ZERO law in the town and no government presence, so when he rebuffs the original offer from the stock company, they simply send three men to kill him.

The film is notable in a couple of ways. Given that this is a movie about whoring, there is nudity, fully naked women, but none of the scenes are sexual in nature at all to the point where I would say it’s not too bad for kids over 11 or so. It’s just ‘naked ladies’ and all the sex is implied or discussed only, usually in a humorous fashion.

Secondly, there are guns and killing in the film, but ZERO gun fights as Hollywood usually understands them. Every shooting in the film is either a back shot or a sneaky shot on someone tricked or unawares in some way. In fact, only three characters are shot facing their attacker! This is likely far closer to the reality of the old West than what we see in even other deconstructionist films of this era such as The Wild Bunch (1969).

While this film runs 2 hours, there are some long scenes that could have been shorter and some short scenes that should have been played out more. One of the whores goes crazy and slices up one of her customers– but the reasons and resolution of this are never touched on again. Everyone that sees this can easily notice the similarities with Deadwood, and even that with it’s gaps in some of the plots, that this may have inspired the creation of the series in the first place!

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