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Brewster McCloud (1970)

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.

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2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Brewster McCloud
... Louise
... Det. Lt. Frank Shaft
... Weeks
... Suzanne Davis
... The Lecturer
... Abraham Wright
... Officer Johnson
... Daphne Heap
... Hope
... Officer Hines
... Det. Capt. Crandall
... Officer Douglas Breen
Angelin Johnson ... Mrs. Breen
Dean Goss ... Officer Ledbetter
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Storyline

Brewster is an owlish, intellectual boy who lives in a fallout shelter of the Houston Astrodome. He has a dream: to take flight within the confines of the stadium. Brewster tells those he trusts of his dream, but displays a unique way of treating others who do not fit within his plans. When the fateful day arrives, and he enters the dome with his fanciful construction of bird wings, Brewster is surrounded by the police. Will he be caught before he attempts to fly? Written by Rick Gregory <rag.apa@email.apa.org>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

THIS MAY BE OVER YOUR HEAD. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Fantasy

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 August 1971 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Brewster McCloud's (Sexy) Flying Machine  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Johnson is seen driving west on the Southwest Freeway (U.S. 59) in one scene of the film - at the time of filming, there was a road sign where eastbound traffic had to exit northeast. This particular exit is known to Houstonians as the Spur 527. This stretch of the Southwest Freeway was completed in May 1961; as of February 2004, plans are underway to reconstruct the freeway below grade level (in other words - the freeway will be in a trench). The freeway reconstruction was completed in June 2006. See more »

Goofs

During the opening credits, the studio name, the production company, and the films title appear two different times in the first minute. See more »

Quotes

Weeks: There are times, Bernard, when a man works best alone. This is one of those times.
Suzanne Davis: What did he mean by that?
Bernard: I don't know, but it's something
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the credits, all the actors turn up as Circus Performers and are introduced by the Ring Master - ending with Bud Cort, who lies dead in the center ring. See more »

Connections

References The Wizard of Oz (1939) See more »

Soundtracks

The Star Spangled Banner
Written by Francis Scott Key and John Stafford Smith
Performed by Margaret Hamilton and the Jack Yates High School Band
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User Reviews

 
Quite unlike anything you'll ever see!!!
25 September 1999 | by See all my reviews

This oddball Altman film came out in the same year as M*A*S*H, but the two movies are stylistically very different. BC employs a conventional plot structure, whereas M*A*S*H featured an episodic style. Also, the latter film is best defined by its irreverent humor and hedonistic characters. Brewster McCloud, on the other hand, is more of a zany fantasy inhabited by bizarre characters who are not as sympathetic as the M*A*S*H characters.

Differences aside, the two films do have some traits in common. Many of the same players are in both films (Bud Cort, Sally Kellerman, G. Wood, Michael Murphy, John Schuck, Rene Auberjonois, and Corey Fischer). Also of note, BC is the debut of Shelley Duvall and marks the first of her many projects with Robert Altman. Moreover, both films have a detached narrator-type device which creates a middle ground in between the viewer and the main characters. In M*A*S*H, it was the camp PA system; in BC, it's the eccentric ornithologist/lecturer character. Lastly, both films make subtle statements about certain flaws in modern America. In M*A*S*H, this can be seen in the incessant ridiculing of the US military and US foreign policy. In BC, use of civil rights era gospel music and pithy references to Spiro Agnew and Nixon poke fun at American hypocrisy and ignorant conservatism.

The Houston Astrodome is without question a major character in BC. The protagonist (played by Cort) has one ambition in life: to take flight with a pair of wings he himself constructs. He lives in the bowels of the dome and spends his time there designing and building the instrument of his dream. He's always in danger whenever he leaves his "home" and the protection of his guardian (Kellerman). Whether he goes to the zoo or to a dome tourguide's apartment, he is in danger of being harmed by bigoted, violent people. In a sense, Brewster is not a member of the human race, but rather a bird trapped in human form. He finds haven in the Astrodome, but this is temporary and confining. He ultimately wants the freedom that "real" flight will provide him.

The themes of freedom and temptation are important in this film. Brewster longs for freedom, but is hindered in his realization of his dream by various characters and personal mistakes. Brewster can potentially "fly away", but there is one important condition. He can never have sex with a woman. If he does, he won't be able to achieve flight because his female guardian (Kellerman) will no longer protect him. But in typical human fashion, he falls for a girl. This character (Duvall) is his eventual downfall - literally! In the end, the film conveys the message that humans are never truly free. We are always controlled or confined by something, be it other people or our own desires or even the roof of the Astrodome. The dream of achieving flight is a metaphor in this film for man's incessant but futile wish to be free.

If you have no interest in these plot or thematic elements, Brewster McCloud is still worth watching just because of its bizarre humor, recurring jokes, and odd characters. Listen carefully, for there are many subtle jokes and satirical remarks. The trademark Altman audio style is used consistently throughout and if you listen carefully, you're bound to hear something funny or witty. When watching this one on video, be sure to crank the volume up high so that you clearly hear all the layers of Altman's "thick" sound mix. The ending - the final ten minutes of the film - is very memorable and provides a great finish to all the previous events. Unlike so many films, this movie's ending is neither anticlimactic nor corny, but rather profound and dramatic. You won't forget it!

Robert Altman created an absorbing, humorous, zany, and profound film in BC. To succeed in all these areas is no small feat. This film is a breath of fresh air when compared to the tripe Hollywood churns out on a weekly basis in 1999. I praise the work of Robert Altman. He's one of the few American directors in the past thirty years who's made interesting, unconventional, challenging, and highly entertaining films on a consistent basis and with his own unique style. It's a shame that only a few of his films (invariably M*A*S*H, Nashville, The Player, and Short Cuts; very rarely McCabe and Mrs. Miller) can be found in video stores. The obscure gems like Brewster McCloud (Thieves Like Us and Three Women also fall into this category) are nearly impossible to see, unless you buy the videos off the internet. Considering all the garbage produced by Hollywood nowadays, I advocate a revival of all the Robert Altman films made between 1969 and 1977 ("A Wedding" (1978) marks the beginning of the decline of his work, some might say). Oh, well. It never hurts to dream. Every once in awhile, a great Altman flick is shown on premium cable. I guess that is as good as it will get.


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