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Kansas City (1996)

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A pair of kidnappings expose the complex power dynamics within the corrupt and unpredictable workings of 1930s Kansas City.

Director:

Robert Altman
3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jennifer Jason Leigh ... Blondie O'Hara
Miranda Richardson ... Carolyn Stilton
Harry Belafonte ... Seldom Seen
Michael Murphy ... Henry Stilton
Dermot Mulroney ... Johnny O'Hara
Steve Buscemi ... Johnny Flynn
Brooke Smith ... Babe Flynn
Jane Adams ... Nettie Bolt
Jeff Feringa Jeff Feringa ... Addie Parker
A.C. Tony Smith A.C. Tony Smith ... Sheepshan Red (as A.C. Smith)
Martin Martin Martin Martin ... 'Blue' Green
Albert J. Burnes Albert J. Burnes ... Charlie Parker
Ajia Mignon Johnson Ajia Mignon Johnson ... Pearl Cummings
Tim Snay ... Rally Speaker
Tawanna Benbow Tawanna Benbow ... Rose
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Music | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Official Sites:

Fine Line

Country:

France | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 August 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Канзас Сити See more »

Filming Locations:

Kansas City, Kansas, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$19,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$432,183, 18 August 1996, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,353,824, 22 September 1996

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,500,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"Kansas City" 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 »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Carolyn Stilton: [saying her husband's pet name for her] Pussy.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Directors: The Films of Robert Altman (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

 
improvise
23 February 2006 | by RanchoTuVuSee all my reviews

Jennifer Jason Leigh plays a desperate woman who tries to rescue her boyfriend (Dermot Mulrooney) from the hands of local black mobsters led by Harry Belafonte, who have made him a prisoner after he robbed one of them. She kidnaps the laudnum addicted wife (Miranda Richardson) of a Roosevelt political adviser (Michael Murphy) in an effort to somehow get enough leverage to achieve her goal. The Kansas City of the Depression setting looks pretty real and wide open, not only for crime but also political fraud. Robert Altman made a great character for Steve Buscemi as a brutal political operative who's assigned to get out the vote by any and all means possible, including the use of baseball bats, but he failed to give him enough space. Nonetheless, he's just another part of this mosaic of the period, and does well enough with the meager scenes he has. Jennifer Jason Leigh is at the film's center while social, political, and economic forces swirl around her. She affects a Jean Harlow persona throughout the film, and in one scene is actually in a theater watching a Jean Harlow film. The tough girl act conceals her real life existence as yet another victim of the Great Depression of the 1930's. By the end of the film she appears on screen with her hair dyed platinum blond and in an all white evening gown, actually becoming the famous actress who died so young. While the film meanders around, going into and out of crooked politics, race, teen pregnancy, drugs, etc...and in and out of the Hey-Hey Club with the ongoing birth of blues and bebop, the ending that punctuates the kernel of a plot is quite an exclamation point and is well worth the wait.


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