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A Prairie Home Companion
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A Prairie Home Companion (2006) More at IMDbPro »

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A Prairie Home Companion -- 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.


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Garrison Keillor (screenplay)
Garrison Keillor (story) ...
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Release Date:
9 June 2006 (USA) See more »
Radio like you've never seen it before. See more »
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
6 wins & 20 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
This is Altman in his element See more (279 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Marylouise Burke ... Lunch Lady

Woody Harrelson ... Dusty

L.Q. Jones ... Chuck Akers

Tommy Lee Jones ... The Axeman

Garrison Keillor ... GK

Kevin Kline ... Guy Noir

Lindsay Lohan ... Lola Johnson

Virginia Madsen ... Dangerous Woman

John C. Reilly ... Lefty

Maya Rudolph ... Molly

Tim Russell ... Stage Manager

Sue Scott ... Makeup Lady

Meryl Streep ... Yolanda Johnson

Lily Tomlin ... Rhonda Johnson
Tom Keith ... Himself - Sound Effects Man
Jearlyn Steele ... Herself
Robin Williams ... Himself
Linda Williams ... Herself
Prudence Johnson ... Herself
Richard A. Dworsky ... The Guys All-Star Shoe Band - Piano, Organ, Bandleader (as Richard Dworsky)
Pat Donohue ... The Guys All-Star Shoe Band - Guitar
Andy Stein ... The Guys All-Star Shoe Band - Violin, Saxophone
Gary Raynor ... The Guys All-Star Shoe Band - Bass
Arnie Kinsella ... The Guys All-Star Shoe Band - Drums
Peter Ostroushko ... Featured Musician - Mandolin / Fiddle
Butch Thompson ... Featured Musician - Clarinet
Christopher K. Grap ... Axeman's Chauffeur

Debbie DeLisi ... Lobby Usher
Bob Douglas ... Musician Extra
Adam Granger ... Musician Extra
Bill Hinkley ... Musician Extra
John Koerner ... Musician Extra
Judy Larson ... Musician Extra
Dan Newton ... Musician Extra
Jon Pankake ... Musician Extra
Dick Rees ... Musician Extra
Becky Schlegel ... Musician Extra
Pop Wagner ... Musician Extra
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Kati Batchelder ... Radio Show Fan (uncredited)
Donna Marie Beard ... Radio Show Fan (uncredited)

Ray Beasley ... Radio Show Fan (uncredited)
Rita Cannon ... Radio Show Fan (uncredited)
Michael Cook ... Radio Show Fan (uncredited)

Rachel Grubb ... Radio Show Fan (uncredited)
Freddy Hall ... Radio Show Fan (uncredited)

Leon Hiland ... Fitzgerald Audience (uncredited)
Amanda Hofman-Frethem ... Radio Show Fan (uncredited)
Geoffrey Hofman-Frethem ... Smoker (uncredited)

Punnavith Koy ... Smoker (uncredited)
Kayla Laursen ... Fitzgerald Audience (uncredited)

John Murray ... Theater Audience Member (uncredited)
Connie Newville ... Radio Show Fan (uncredited)
David O'Neill ... Stage Hand (uncredited)
Lisa Pechmiller ... Radio Show Fan (uncredited)
Joseph Andrew Schneider ... Yolanda's Biggest Fan (uncredited)
Joel Thingvall ... Fitzgerald Audience (uncredited)

Jim Westcott ... Stage Hand (uncredited)

Directed by
Robert Altman 
Writing credits
Garrison Keillor (screenplay)

Garrison Keillor (story) &
Ken LaZebnik (story)

Garrison Keillor  radio program "A Prairie Home Companion" (uncredited)

Produced by
Robert Altman .... producer
Wren Arthur .... producer
Joshua Astrachan .... producer
Gerard Cafesjian .... co-executive producer (as Gerard L. Cafesjian)
Lowell Dubrinsky .... associate producer
Frederick W. Green .... co-executive producer
Tony Judge .... producer
David Levy .... producer
Patty Payne Green .... co-executive producer
John Penotti .... executive producer
Bill Pohlad .... executive producer (as William Pohlad)
George Sheanshang .... executive producer
Fisher Stevens .... executive producer
John Stout .... co-executive producer (as John H. Stout)
Cinematography by
Edward Lachman  (as Ed Lachman)
Film Editing by
Jacob Craycroft 
Casting by
Pam Dixon  (as Pam Dixon Mickelson)
Production Design by
Dina Goldman 
Art Direction by
Jeff Schoen  (as Jeffrey Schoen)
Set Decoration by
Tammara Melloy 
Tora Peterson 
Costume Design by
Catherine Marie Thomas 
Makeup Department
Bridget Cook .... hair department head
Teri Demarest .... swing hair/makeup (as Teri E. Demarest)
Kim Greene .... makeup artist (as Kimberly Greene)
Natalie A. Hale .... key makeup artist
J. Roy Helland .... hair stylist: Ms. Streep
J. Roy Helland .... makeup artist: Ms. Streep
Felicia Linsky .... makeup artist: Ms. Tomlin
Roxanne Wightman .... key hair stylist
Marlene D. Williams .... hair stylist: Ms. Tomlin (as Marlene Williams)
Dina Dainty .... makeup day-player (uncredited)
Production Management
Thomas Campbell .... production manager: The Fitzgerald Theater
Julie Hartley .... unit production manager
Brian G. Sanderson .... general manager: The Fitzgerald Theater
Kate Gustafson Sanderson .... general manager: Prairie Home Productions
Tim Williams .... head of production: GreeneStreet Films
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Vebe Borge .... first assistant director
Dave Halls .... second assistant director
Art Department
Ben Barraud .... property master
Curtis Bellows .... painter
Paul Berglund .... property assistant
James Andrew Brick .... leadman
Adam Chase .... painter (as Adam S. Chase)
Erin Coscio .... stagehand: The Fitzgerald Theater
Jim DePaulis .... stagehand: The Fitzgerald Theater (as Jim Depaulis)
Patrick Dzieweczynski .... stagehand: The Fitzgerald Theater
Alan Frechtman .... head carpenter: The Fitzgerald Theater (as Al Frechtman)
Kelly Hemenway .... graphic designer (as Kelly Rae Hemenway)
Luther Hill .... painter
Anne Hyvarinen .... lead scenic
Catrin Magnusson .... art department coordinator (as S. Catrin Magnusson)
Sarah Regan .... painter
Mary Reitz .... stagehand: The Fitzgerald Theater
Shannon Schaefer .... art department assistant
Theo Sena .... on-set dresser
Gary Surber .... swing (as Gary C. Surber)
Chris Thickins .... art department assistant
Phil Vandervaart .... signwriter
Adam VanWagner .... art department assistant (as Adam Van Wagner)
William A. Wilson .... painter (as William Wilson)
Dan Zimmermann .... stagehand: The Fitzgerald Theater
Matthew Richard Harris .... graphic designer (uncredited)
Sound Department
Gina Alfano .... adr editor (as Gina R. Alfano)
Michael Barry .... re-recording mixer
Chris C. Benson .... p.a. mixer (as Chris Benson)
Rachel Chancey .... assistant sound editor
Martin Czembor .... re-recording mixer
Michael DeMark .... sound effects recordist (as Michael De Mark)
Caoimhe Doyle .... foley assistant
Mariusz Glabinski .... sound editor
John Glaeser .... sound utility
Johnny Hagen .... audio: electronic press kit
Michael Holmstrom .... sound mix engineer
Nick Huston .... additional sound equipment
Bobby Johanson .... adr mixer
Jason Keillor .... sound engineer: Prairie Home Productions
Bruce Kitzmeyer .... sound editor
Dan Korintus .... sound editor
Goro Koyama .... foley artist
Drew Kunin .... production sound mixer
Avi Laniado .... sound mix engineer
Terrance Laudermilch .... sound re-recordist
Andy Malcolm .... foley supervisor
Anna Malkin .... foley recording asisstant
Eric McAllister .... assistant sound editor (as Eric Mcallister)
Eliza Paley .... supervising sound editor
Michael Primmer .... boom operator
Peter Schneider .... additional sound equipment
John L. Sims Jr. .... sound recordist
Steve F.B. Smith .... sound consultant: Dolby
Don White .... foley recording mixer
Robin Wilds .... foley assistant
Phillip Fuller .... sound mix technician (uncredited)
Andy Malcolm .... foley artist (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Steven Hintz .... special effects (as Steve Hintz)
Kevin G. Miller .... special effects assistant
Camera and Electrical Department
Tom Adair .... camera operator: electronic press kit
Robert Reed Altman .... camera operator
Peter Biagi .... camera operator (as Pete Biagi)
Peter Clemence .... best boy grip
Eddie Cohen .... gaffer: electronic press kit
Christopher DeBlau .... electrician (as Christopher Deblau)
John W. DeBlau .... gaffer (as John W. Deblau)
Julie Donovan .... first assistant "b" camera
Tom Franchett .... best boy electrician
Joseph Gallup .... grip
Melinda Sue Gordon .... still photographer
Tony Hanson .... day player: grip/electrician
Jamie Heuton .... day player: camera department
Travis Hottinger .... day player: grip/electrician
Christopher Hultgren .... day player: grip/electrician (as Chris Hultgren)
Scott D. Jolstad .... grip
Kevin Karpinski .... day player: grip/electrician
Jim Kindt .... day player: grip/electrician
Cole Koehler .... camera production assistant
Ted Lichtenheld .... day player: camera department
Michael Lindquist .... second assistant camera
Chris Malone .... additional electrician
James McMillan .... key grip
Rick Neff .... day player: camera department
Rory Olson .... day player: grip/electrician (as Rory D. Olson)
Michael Pagan .... lead crane operator: Super Technocrane (as Michael M. Pagan)
Jason Painter .... day player: camera department
Craig Peterschmidt .... second crane operator: Super Technocrane
David S. Pope .... dolly grip
Dave Schnack .... additional first assistant camera (as David Schnack)
Ryan Sheridan .... high-definition imaging technician
Joseph Slagerman .... electrician (as Joe Slagerman)
Randall Smith .... second assistant camera
Steve Speers .... "a" camera first assistant
Michael St. Hilaire .... additional camera operator
Jeff Stonehouse .... day player: camera department
Jeff Villars .... dolly grip
Peter Vongrossmann .... grip
Michael Wangen .... stage lighting: The Fitzgerald Theater
Wilson Webb .... additional electrician (as Wilson R. Webb)
Michael Winn .... day player: grip/electrician
Dan Zimmermann .... spotlight operator: The Fitzgerald Theater
Casting Department
Lisa Bol .... extras casting assistant
Debbie DeLisi .... extras casting
Gloria Kim .... extras casting intern
Mary Moga .... extras casting intern
Amber Lee Olivier .... extras casting intern
Jay Runquist .... extras casting intern
Andrew Stewart .... extras casting assistant
Carrie Bush .... extras casting assistant (uncredited)
Kelly Gilpatrick .... extras casting assistant (uncredited)
Jeremy Gustafson .... extras casting assistant (uncredited)
Todd B. Johnson .... extras casting assistant (uncredited)
Kaari Moen .... extras casting assistant (uncredited)
Michael Sung-Ho .... extras casting assistant (uncredited)
Brian Walstad .... extras casting assistant (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Mickey Carleton .... assistant costume designer
Laura Downing .... key costumer
Mary Hansmeyer .... seamstress
Hannah Myers .... costume intern
Jane E. Myers .... costume supervisor (as Jane Myers-Williams)
Lisa Powers .... seamstress
Editorial Department
Michael Balabuch .... digital intermediate project manager (as Mike Balabuch)
Don Ciana .... lab timer
C.J. Gardella .... post-production assistant (as CJ Gardella)
Matthew H. Giordano .... second assistant editor (as Matthew Healey Giordano)
Zach Kirshner .... editorial intern
Anthony Kounouklos .... on-line editor
Jane Rizzo .... first assistant editor
Tim Stipan .... digital colorist
Michael Tyner .... editorial intern
Christian Zak .... digital intermediate producer
Richard Rowntree .... assistant to post-production consultant (uncredited)
Music Department
Dan Chouinard .... musician: additional rehearsal pianist
Martin Czembor .... post music mixer
Richard A. Dworsky .... music arranger (as Richard Dworsky)
Paul Gerike .... music copyist
Sam Hudson .... post music mixer (as Samuel Hudson)
Sam Hudson .... production music mixer (as Samuel Hudson)
Garrison Keillor .... additional lyrics: "Tishomingo Blues", "Happy Baked Beans", "Powdermilk Biscuit Theme"
Annette Kudrak .... supervising music editor
Thomas Scheuzger .... post music recordist
Kathryn Slusher .... music librarian: Prairie Home Productions
Transportation Department
Curtis Wade Anderson .... driver (as Curtis Anderson)
Richard W. Anderson .... driver
Michael Arnold .... transportation captain (as Michael Hallett Arnold)
Bobby Jo Cawley .... transportation coordinator
Jesse Ehman .... transportation assistant
James M. Kelly .... driver
Leo Skudlarek .... driver (as Leo M. Skudlarek)
Other crew
Erin Acker .... assistant production coordinator (as Erin M. Acker)
James Ahern .... film recorder
Ethan Anderson .... set production assistant
Paul Thomas Anderson .... stand-by director
Topper Anton .... stand-in
Randall Balsmeyer .... title designer
Bill Bard .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership
Michael Battle .... assistant to cast (as Michael Brandon Battle)
Debra Beck .... logistics manager: Prairie Home Productions
Sarah Brooks Lindahl .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership
Megan Alicia Brown .... extras assistant (as Megan Brown)
Gerard Cafesjian .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership
Dru Anne Carlson .... script supervisor (as Drucilla Carlson)
Matthew Carlson .... office production assistant
Vicki Cherkas .... head of business and legal affairs: GreeneStreet Films
Katrina Cicala .... assistant: Garrison Keillor (as Katrina Cicala-Saracino)
Bruce Cole .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership
Laura Comerford .... insurance services: AON/Albert G. Ruben Co.
J. John Corbett .... title designer
Ralph Costanza .... print coordinator
Nell Drake .... payroll accountant
Joshua Dupre .... caterer (as Joshua Dupré)
Camie Eugster .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership (as Camie)
Jack Eugster .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership
John B. Finn .... post-production accountant: JFA Inc. (as John Finn)
Ami Francis .... payroll accountant
Heather Garfinkle .... set production assistant
Tessa Gauer .... assistant craft service (as Tessa M. Gauer)
Amanda Stanton Geddes .... marketing: Prairie Home Productions
Molly Getty .... assistant: Robert Altman
Kelly Gilpatrick .... stand-in
Hayden Goldblatt .... assistant to producers
Kay Gornick .... permissions and contracts: Prairie Home Productions
Christopher K. Grap .... production coordinator
Kristin Hammargren .... assistant craft service
May Chan Hanegan .... legal services
Tiffany Hanssen .... special projects: Prairie Home Productions
Pete Hayes .... post-production accountant: JFA Inc.
Erin Heidenreich .... sales agent
Karen Heithoff .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership (as Karen)
Ken Heithoff .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership
Steven E. Helland .... legal: Frederikson & Byron, P.A.
Mary Hogan Bard .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership
Poul Holm .... craft service
Heather Holst .... legal services
Ben Jacoby .... assistant craft service
Bruce Johnson .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership
Jean Johnson .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership (as Bruce)
Todd B. Johnson .... stand-in
Marty Jurek .... production assistant: day player
Jason Keillor .... special projects: Prairie Home Productions
Elaine Killian .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership
George Killian .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership (as George)
Neil W. Kimmelfield .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership
Brian Kornreich .... business and legal affairs executive: GreeneStreet Films
Fred Krohn .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership
Anita Kunin .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership (as Anita)
Myron Kunin .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership
Mary Lawless .... manager of business and legal affairs: GreeneStreet Films
Andrea Lazard .... office production assistant (as Andrea Johnson)
Leland T. Lynch .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership
Maeve Mannion .... production accountant
Kristi J. Marchessault .... legal: Frederikson & Byron, P.A.
Jolynn Martin .... assistant: Mr. Pohlad, River Road Entertainment
Anthony Maslow .... caterer
Andrea McAvey .... production assistant: Prairie Home Productions
Luke McCarter .... stand-in (as Luke Mccarter)
Timothy McDowell .... for Sandcastle 5 Productions
Mary Moga .... extras wrangler
John L. Morgan .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership
Anne Marie Murphy .... script clearance: Eastern Script
Tim Nelson .... set production assistant
George Nicholis .... film publicist
Simon Nuchtern .... continuity and spotting: Katina Productions
Dana O'Keefe .... sales agent
David O'Neill .... archivist: Prairie Home Productions
Mary Olson .... stand-in
Patty Payne Green .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership
Lawrence Perlman .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership (as Lawrence)
Linda Perlman .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership
Roger Poirier .... caterer (as Roger J. Poirier Jr.)
Michael Reinarts .... head of business affairs: River Road Entertainment
Rachel V. Richardson .... first assistant accountant
Scott Rivard .... technical director: Prairie Home Productions
Kathy Roach .... production assistant: Prairie Home Productions
Marilyn Rothschild .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership (as Marilyn)
Steve Rothschild .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership
Michael Schaeffer .... set production assistant
Eve Schoukroun .... international sales
Jerry Schwalbach .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership
Sue Schwalbach .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership (as Sue)
Daniel Silverman .... film recorder
Jon Steinhorst .... set intern
John Stout .... legal: Frederikson & Byron, P.A. (as John H. Stout)
John Stout .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership
Marcia Stout .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership (as Marcia)
Raymond Stout .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership
Teri Stout .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership (as Teri)
Jill Sweiven .... stand-in
Cerah Tymoshuk .... assistant craft service
Dana Wagner .... key set production assistant
Pop Wagner .... lasso trainer
Brian Walstad .... extras wrangler
Albert Webster .... stage manager: Prairie Home Productions
Shane Wethers .... audience services manager: The Fitzgerald Theater
Molly Whipple .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership (as Molly)
Trey Whipple .... member: The Prairie Film Limited Partnership
Allison Williams .... production assistant
Allison Williams .... set intern
Kori E. Wilson .... assistant: Meryl Streep
Jake Yuzna .... stand-in
Julia Alexander .... legal counsel (uncredited)
Jonathan Mankuta .... stand-in (uncredited)
Joel Thingvall .... stand-in (uncredited)
Daniel Villagomez .... credits administrator (uncredited)
Paul Thomas Anderson .... special thanks
Louis Bacon .... acknowledgment: GreeneStreet Films gratefully acknowledge the contributions of
Scott Bailey .... special thanks
Linda Bjorklund .... special thanks
Tom Blanck .... special thanks
Debbie Burgwald .... special thanks
James Caccavo .... acknowledgment: GreeneStreet Films gratefully acknowledge the contributions of
Bruce Carlson .... special thanks: The Schubert Club
Sam Cohn .... special thanks
Brian Collins .... acknowledgment: GreeneStreet Films gratefully acknowledge the contributions of
Joe Culligan .... special thanks
Molly Culligan .... special thanks (as Molly)
Naoufal El Abbassi .... the producers wish to thank
Tom Erbes .... special thanks: Dunrite EFX
Dennis Flaherty .... special thanks (as Deputy Mayor Dennis Flaherty)
Sarah Fossen .... special thanks: State of MN
Jim Gardner .... special thanks
Michael Garfinkle .... acknowledgment: GreeneStreet Films gratefully acknowledge the contributions of
Tresa Garr .... special thanks
Kathy Garretson .... special thanks: US Bank
Michael Gordon .... acknowledgment: GreeneStreet Films gratefully acknowledge the contributions of
Henry Grant .... special thanks
Evan Greenspan .... special thanks
Jon Hallberg .... special thanks (as Dr. Jon Hallberg)
Randall Herrera .... special thanks
Nick Huston .... special thanks: sound
The Johnson Girls .... acknowledgment: production acknowledges the kind permission for the use of their name
Randy Kelly .... special thanks (as Mayor Randy Kelly)
Mary Kiritschenko .... special thanks
Mike Krueger .... special thanks
David Liptak .... acknowledgment: GreeneStreet Films gratefully acknowledge the contributions of
Melissa Mattson .... special thanks
Monique Maxwell .... special thanks
Bruce Mears .... special thanks: VP Operations, Minnesota Business Academy
Greg Meyers .... special thanks
Shain Miller .... special thanks
Carol Mintz .... special thanks
Christopher R. Nelson .... special thanks (as Sgt. Christopher R. Nelson)
Nancy Nicholson .... special thanks (as Nancy Nicholson and Family)
Chuck Paton .... special thanks
Joseph Petri .... acknowledgment: GreeneStreet Films gratefully acknowledge the contributions of
Christopher Pia .... acknowledgment: GreeneStreet Films gratefully acknowledge the contributions of (as Chris Pia)
Tom Radtke .... special thanks (as Sgt. Tom Radtke)
Lois Smith .... special thanks
Josh Sprague .... special thanks
Jordan Sramek .... special thanks: The Rose Ensemble
Maria Toso .... special thanks (as Maria)
Victor Toso .... special thanks
Leslie Vadnais .... special thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Rated PG-13 for risque humor
105 min
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Argentina:Atp | Australia:PG | Canada:PG (British Columbia) (Canadian Home Video rating) | Finland:K-3 | Germany:0 | Hong Kong:IIA | Hungary:16 | Iceland:L | Ireland:PG | Netherlands:AL | Portugal:M/12 | Singapore:PG | South Korea:12 | Sweden:Btl | Switzerland:7 (canton of Geneva) | Switzerland:7 (canton of Vaud) | UK:PG | USA:PG-13 (certificate #42472)

Did You Know?

For insurance purposes, and in the event that 80-year-old director Robert Altman was unable to finish shooting the film, Paul Thomas Anderson was employed as a standby director.See more »
Continuity: When we first see Yolanda in her dressing room, her dress is beige with a reddish jacket. Then she is on stage but her dress is now red with the same reddish jacket.See more »
[first lines]
Radio Announcer:Market reports today, barrows and gilts uh two hundred twenty to two hundred sixty pounds, they're lower at forty dollars uh sows are steady three hundred five hundred pounds thirty four to thirty seven dollars going over to feeder cattle, beef steers - one hundred twenty to one hundred fifty dollars and two hundred to three hundred
[fade out]
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Inherent Vice (2014)See more »
Coffee JingleSee more »


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148 out of 198 people found the following review useful.
This is Altman in his element, 21 May 2006
Author: samseescinema from United States

A Prairie Home Companion

rating: 3.5 out of 4

In truth, I'm not one to worship Robert Altman. His films—barring the rarities—have been, for me, mostly inconsequential. They're wispy and lighthearted and mostly nonchalant. They work, but on a momentary basis; acting like a bubble that bursts the second the lights go up. Most of the same can be said about A Prairie Home Companion. Only, this time is simply works better.

Garrison Keillor who penned the "A Prairie Home Companion" radio show also works the fingers behind the typewriter for its film adaptation. His script has a kind of "concentrated structure" to it; it's duration running throughout "A Prairie Home Companion's" final live broadcasted show. He balances onstage performance between backstage interactions, the camera smoothly swirling amongst the audience, the stage, and the inner workings of the theatre.

If Altman flashed the negative to achieve a washed-out look for The Long Goodbye, he did quite the opposite for A Prairie Home Companion. The cinematography is rich and sensational, often whirling between different sets in long, gorgeously extended shots. This isn't your typical backstage DV debacle; but the work of a director at the very height of his career.

The cast is yet another stunning ensemble, most of them probably flocking to Altman's direction. Beat this: Meryl Streep, Woody Harrelson, Kevin Kline, Lily Tomlin, Virginia Madsen, Tommy Lee Jones, Lindsay Lohan, John C.Reilly, and Garrison Keillor. Yeah. The beauty of the film is that none of these actors quite seem to be acting. Attribute this to Altman's classic overlapping dialogue, but don't forget to bow your heads to the performers as well. Often I'm annoyed by Altman's stubborn persistence with overlapping dialogue. I'll argue that when Altman should be trying to make cinema, he insists on imitating real life. But with A Prairie Home Companion, the overlapping dialogue is mandatory. Altman's best when he's making a film mostly about people and not about story. This is most obvious here. My one complaint with the film is its aversion to storyline. But this isn't too much of a problem because A Prairie Home Companion is, if nothing else, about the people of the radio show. This is a story about human beings, where overlapping dialogue is only expected.

The story finds itself toeing the line with magical realism. Virginia Madsen plays The Dangerous Woman, who Guy Noir (Kevin Kline) first describes as a femme fatale, and later as an angel. As she convinces us of her divinity, Noir finds a way to use her as an assassin to ward off the buyers of the radio show. This fantasy element works only to heighten the vibrancy of the rest of the film, where feet stay firmly planted to reality. Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin play the singing sisters Yolanda and Rhonda Johnson, with Lindsay Lohan as their gloomy daughter Lola. The three, as contrasting as the actors are on paper, flit about in a realm of familial nostalgia, with Lola penciling out her suicidal songs and scoffing beside their make-up mirrors. John C. Reilly and Woody Harrelson are Dusty and Lefty, the singing cowboys who crack dirty jokes backstage and jerk the chain of censorship with Al (Tim Russell), the stage manager. Chuck Akers (L.Q. Jones) and Evelyn (Marylouise Burke) are the elderly lovebirds who chase a potentially fatal lovemaking. And holding all these characters together is Garrison Keillor, whose nostalgia is matched only by his pragmatism and lack of sentimentality towards the show's demise. His performance is probably the most memorable, as the picture is fuller when he strolls about within it, offering truth to the blind antics of some of the other roles with his endless cache of stories.

A Prairie Home Companion's bubble doesn't burst as the lights go up. Instead, we find ourselves wishing the show would go on and the performers keep up doing their crazy little acts. This is Altman in his element; where humans are meant to be portrayed as humans. It's still lighthearted and mostly nonchalant, sure, but it's also about nostalgia and reminiscence, and the beauty that surrounds a family built behind the red curtains and a WLT microphone.

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