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William C. Altreuter
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Monday, April 24, 2006

We had a little Warren Beatty festival this weekend: CLA said she put ""Bonnie & Clyde"" on the queue, and I had called for "McCabe & Mrs. Miller". For some reason I've never really gotten Beatty, perhaps because his body of work is comparatively small, and spread out over a long enough period of time that it is hard to remember what he did in each role to make it distinctive. "Bonnie & Clyde" is full of those sorts of moments: there is a scene where he speaks to a waitress which captures exactly the secret of his charm: he turns his attention on her so intensely that for just that moment it looks like they are the only two people in the room.

In McCabe & Mrs. Miller he does something else well-- he plays a character that moves from opaque to slightly dim (but cadgy)to poetic to stubbornly heroic or heroicly stubborn-- all with a subtle, light touch. Like a lot of Altman the movie is atmospherics-- but it takes a lot of actorly ability to create a distinct character though the mumbling and the murky soundtrack, and Beatty was completely up to it.

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