Kansas City (1996)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Music  |  16 August 1996 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.3/10 from 3,435 users   Metascore: 57/100
Reviews: 43 user | 31 critic | 23 from Metacritic.com

Robert Altman's jazz-scored film explores themes of love, crime, race, and politics in 1930s Kansas City. When Blondie O'Hara's husband, a petty thief, is captured by Seldom Seen and held ... See full summary »


Watch Trailer
0Check in

On Disc

at Amazon

Top 25 Trivia Items From the Last 25 Years

Here are some amazing facts and figures to deepen your appreciation of the movies you love.

See the full list

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 24 titles
created 06 Oct 2012
list image
a list of 45 titles
created 06 Jul 2014
a list of 40 titles
created 18 Aug 2014
a list of 34 titles
created 11 months ago
a list of 25 titles
created 3 months ago

Related Items

Search for "Kansas City" on Amazon.com

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: Kansas City (1996)

Kansas City (1996) on IMDb 6.3/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Kansas City.

User Polls

3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Conflict arises in the small town of Holly Springs when an old woman's death causes a variety of reactions among family and friends.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Glenn Close, Julianne Moore, Liv Tyler
The Company (2003)
Drama | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Ensemble drama centered around a group of ballet dancers, with a focus on one young dancer (Campbell) who's poised to become a principal performer.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Neve Campbell, James Franco, Malcolm McDowell
Fool for Love (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

May is waiting for her boyfriend in a run-down American motel, when an old flame turns up and threatens to undermine her efforts and drag her back into the life that she was running away from. The situation soon turns complicated.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Sam Shepard, Kim Basinger, Harry Dean Stanton
Streamers (1983)
Crime | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Four young soldiers waiting to be shipped to Viet Nam deal with racial tension and their own intolerance when one soldier reveals he's gay.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Matthew Modine, Michael Wright, Mitchell Lichtenstein
A Wedding (1978)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The daughter of a Louisville truck driver marries the scion of a very wealthy family, but reception at the family estate is boycotted by the invited guests.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Carol Burnett, Desi Arnaz Jr., Paul Dooley
Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

An introverted loner living in the bowels of the Astrodome plots to develop - with the aid of a mysterious guardian angel - a pair of wings that will help him fly.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Bud Cort, Shelley Duvall, Sally Kellerman
Comedy | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A cynical Buffalo Bill hires Sitting Bull to exploit him and add his credibility to the distorted view of history presented in his Wild West Show.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Paul Newman, Joel Grey, Kevin McCarthy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

Lawyer Rick Magruder has a one-night-stand affair with caterer Mallory Doss. He becomes hooked on her, and when he learns her nut-case father Dixon is threatening her, he puts the weight of... See full summary »

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Embeth Davidtz, Robert Downey Jr.
Comedy | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A look at what goes on backstage during the last broadcast of America's most celebrated radio show, where singing cowboys Dusty and Lefty, a country music siren, and a host of others hold court.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Lily Tomlin, Meryl Streep, Woody Harrelson
Quintet (1979)
Drama | Mystery | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  

During a future ice age, dying humanity occupies its remaining time by playing a board game called "Quintet." For one small group, this obsession is not enough; they play the game with living pieces ... and only the winner survives.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Paul Newman, Vittorio Gassman, Fernando Rey
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A down on his luck gambler links up with free spirit Elliot Gould at first to have some fun on, but then gets into debt when Gould takes an unscheduled trip to Tijuana. As a final act of ... See full summary »

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: George Segal, Elliott Gould, Ann Prentiss
Secret Honor (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A fictionalized former President Richard M. Nixon offers a solitary, stream-of-consciousness reflection on his life and political career - and the "true" reasons for the Watergate scandal and his resignation.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Philip Baker Hall


Cast overview, first billed only:
Henry Stilton
Johnny O'Hara
Johnny Flynn
Babe Flynn
Nettie Bolt
Jeff Feringa ...
Addie Parker
A.C. Tony Smith ...
Sheepshan Red (as A.C. Smith)
Martin Martin ...
'Blue' Green
Albert J. Burnes ...
Ajia Mignon Johnson ...
Pearl Cummings
Rally Speaker
Tawanna Benbow ...


Robert Altman's jazz-scored film explores themes of love, crime, race, and politics in 1930s Kansas City. When Blondie O'Hara's husband, a petty thief, is captured by Seldom Seen and held at the Hey Hey Club, she launches a desperate plan to release him. She kidnaps the wife of a powerful local politician in an attempt to blackmail him into using his connections to free Johnny. Despite this being election time, he risks exposure by putting the political machine into action to free Johnny and thereby save his wife. Mrs. Stilton, meanwhile, has befriended Blondie and is impressed by her love and devotion to Johnny, especially in contrast to her own loveless marriage. Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Kansas City, 1934. Anything could happen here. One night it did.


Crime | Drama | Music | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, and for some violence and drug use | See all certifications »


Official Sites:




Release Date:

16 August 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Канзас Сити  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$19,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$432,183 (USA) (16 August 1996)


AUD 61,051 (Australia) (1 November 1996)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Harry Belafonte improvised or wrote most of his own dialog. See more »


After his wife is kidnapped by a robber's wife, Stilton uses a phone to enlist the aid of the governor to free the robber, who is being held by some Kansas City jazz club characters he ripped off. And the governor complies, even though Stilton never identifies the robber by name, the name of the people who were robbed or even the name of the club were the robber is being held captive. See more »


Seldom Seen: If my mother was alive, she'd cut your balls off. Woman went right to the point. She never, ever missed a beat.
See more »


Referenced in The 78th Annual Academy Awards (2006) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Rich Textured Visuals
12 February 2012 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

A kidnapping and a robbery move the plot forward in a film that's less about plot than about cultural ambiance. "Kansas City" is mostly a cinematic expression of place and time. It's 1934, when gangsters and jazz ruled and Blacks and Whites went their separate ways.

Visuals are very dark. And though the film is in color, tints are muted, which conveys a nostalgic, sentimental mood. The thin plot takes place largely at night. And the plot alternates with dark interior scenes at the Hey Hey Club, a risqué, all-Black speakeasy where an all-Black band jives free-form jazz, and where illegal gambling fills the back rooms.

None of the characters are sympathetic. But I don't think they're supposed to be. They're archetypes, models of desperate people in desperate times. A gun-wielding gangster's girl named Blondie (Jennifer Jason Leigh) wants to be like Jean Harlow. Mrs. Stilton (Miranda Richardson) is a wealthy, spaced-out politician's wife. Seldom Seen (based on a real-life person and played by Harry Belafonte) is the cigar smoking godfather who rules the dark, smoky Hey Hey Club with an iron fist and who likes to stand around giving lectures to people.

The script's dialogue is mostly subtext, with message directed less at other characters than at viewers. And, as in other Altman films, then-current politics dance around the edges of the seedy story. The overall tone mixes depression with desperation.

For me this is an easy film to judge. The characters and plot I cared for not at all. Jennifer Jason Leigh was painful to watch. And though the jazz is performed with great competence, its free-form, improvisational style is too contemporary to reflect the 1930s. On the other hand, Miranda Richardson gives a fine performance. Attention to detail in costumes, sets, props, and storefront exteriors make the film come alive with era realism. And lighting is absolutely terrific.

If you go into this movie expecting a deep story and well-constructed plot, you'll be disappointed. Absorb the overall texture of the film's visuals. "Kansas City" is a terrific visual portrait of a specific place at a specific time.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
What is the date at which the movie is set? mouton1890
movie lonnellrobinson
real musicians spotted ... ctrl-z-jones
Odd question but is "Kansas City" ever actually uttered in this movie? calcaylor
Discuss Kansas City (1996) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: