Ebert’s plot description:
“A sometime rock singer and a middle-aged Greek-American businessman who meet through a videotape computer dating service…
The movie’s mostly about the perfect couple of the title, a matching of Second City veteran Paul Dooley and Broadway actress Marta Heflin. He’s part of a genuinely bizarre family presided over by a ruthless Greek father who requires compulsory attendance at such family rituals as concerts and dinners. She plays a somewhat forlorn member of a music group, ‘Keepin’ em Off the Streets,’ which is part rock band, part extended communal family.” Continue reading
By Roger Ebert / January 1, 1974
They meet in a California poker parlor. One wins, despite a heated discussion with a loser over whether or not a dealt card hit the floor. They drink. They become friends after they are jointly mugged in the parking lot by the sore loser.
They did not know each other before, and they don’t know much about each other now, but they know all they need to know: They’re both compulsive gamblers, and the dimensions of the world of gambling equal the dimensions of the world they care anything about. It is a small world and a flat one, like one of those maps of the world before Columbus, and they are constantly threatened with falling over the edge.
They’re the heroes (or at least the subjects) of “California Split,” the magnificently funny, cynical film by Robert Altman. Their names are Bill and Charlie, and they’re played by George Segal and Elliott Gould with a combination of unaffected naturalism and sheer raw nervous exhaustion. We don’t need to know anything about gambling to understand the odyssey they undertake to the tracks, to the private poker parties, to the bars, to Vegas, to the edge of defeat, and to the scene of victory. Their compulsion is so strong that it carries us along. Continue reading
This serial killer suspense thriller by Robert Altman was originally broadcast as an episode of Kraft Mystery Theater, then expanded into a longer cut and released to theaters. It stars Charles McGraw, Ted Knight, and Carroll O’Connor, among others, and features an orchestral musical score by John Williams (billed as “Johnny Williams”) before he became famous with his scores for Jaws, Star Wars, and Superman. Continue reading
From two American masters comes a movie like no other
While helicopters overhead spray against a Medfly infestation a group of Los Angeles lives intersect, some casually, some to more lasting effect. Whilst they go out to concerts and jazz clubs and even have their pools cleaned, they also lie, drink, and cheat. Death itself seems never to be far away, even on a fishing trip. Continue reading