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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>
The movie is partially based on a true incident. In 1933, Mary McElroy, the opium-addicted daughter of Henry McElroy, Kansas City's City Manager, was kidnapped from her home by a group of amateur kidnappers. After a $30,000 ransom was paid, Mary McElroy was released unharmed. Her four kidnappers were later caught and sentenced to life in prison. See more »
When Governor Guy Park is telephoned about the kidnapping, he suggests notifying the state police. Missouri has no state police (only Highway Patrol). See more »
He's got a lot of customers.
Those aren't customers, those are voters. They ship 'em from all over the state. Each of 'em vote ten, twelve times. Used to get their names outta the cemetary, but I don't even think they bother anymore.
[to crowd of men]
You'll be exercising your God-given right to vote. However, you'll be voting the way I tell you to vote, and as many times as I tell you. That understood? Understood? Shut up!
Democrats do that?
Democrats? They're what they're paid to be. This is ...
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I happen to like this film... apparently quite a bit more than most people. I even still have a copy of it on VHS somewhere. First and foremost is the music. Absolutely INCREDIBLE old time jazz. The best scene to me is clearly the 'battle' between the sax players at the club. The music in the club throughout the movie and the background score during the non-club scenes is about as good as it gets. And I'm not really a huge jazz guy though I have always liked the Miles Davis - John Coltrane type stuff. This is my favorite non - Angelo Badalamente (sp?)film score. Seriously, see this flick just for the music alone.
And, see it for Miranda Richardson who is AWESOME in this movie. I think she really steals the show in this one. J. Jason Leigh is solid and plays the part of a not too bright, not very successful midwest girl decently. Also, Harry Belafonte is great as Seldom Seen and he just looks and sounds the part so well. Steve Buscemi, Dermot Mulroney and the woman who plays J. Jason Leigh's sister are all quite good in supporting roles, and Michael Murphy is perfect for the part of the slightly confused, yet somewhat powerful husband to the kidnapped Richardson character.
The clothes, cars, and look of the film is nicely done (cmon it IS an Altman picture!!!) and really does make you feel as if you are in Missouri circa 1935-1940. Add to that a slightly twisted ending and you have a really good and def. underrated film that I really want to see again... on DVD this time to REALLY crank up the music scenes. I give Kansas City 7.5/10
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