Brewster McCloud 1970
Director Robert Altman had one of the most commercially uneven careers in Hollywood, and this seems to have been almost deliberate: no sooner would he be riding high on a critical and financial success (M*A*S*H, Nashville, The Player) then he would turn around and direct a series of clearly uncommercial films until his credit with the studios ran dry once again. Brewster McCloud is a clear example of his uncommercial side; it was released in the same year as the massive box office hit M*A*S*H (and even shares star Sally Kellerman).
The moral of Brewster McCloud is almost annoyingly simple: if you become a grown-up, your dreams will die. But the setup is almost irresistible. Brewster (Bud Cort) lives in the Houston Astrodome, where is cared for by a mysterious mother-bird figure (Sally Kellerman). He spends his days exercising so that he will someday be powerful enough to “fly away” on the elaborate flying machine he has built.
Meanwhile, he spends his time studying birds, and in the process encounters some of Houston’s more obnoxious inhabitants, who invariably end up dead. This brings him to the attention of supercop detective Frank Shaft (Michael Murphy), who begins to piece it all together…
Throw in Rene Auberjonois as an ornithology professor who interrupts the film with increasingly eccentric commentary, plus the first film appearance of the quirky Shelley Duvall (who was discovered by Altman’s production scouts where she worked behind a cosmetics counter), and you have a movie that is, if nothing else, truly strange.
And, of course, not available on DVD.