Nashville | 1975
Apart from the hairstyles, this satire on the country music biz, steering between scathing and affectionate, hasn’t dated at all. It’s quintessential Robert Altman: a bustling cast of 24 central characters, chaotically overlapping dialogue and celebrity cameos (Elliott Gould, Julie Christie). It all looks so random but, of course, it’s not. Altman’s brilliance lies in homing in on those killer moments that define characters in an instant.
And where else could it have been made but the Capital of Country Music? (though today, I suppose there’s every chance that finance might have sent the whole shoot to Vancouver).
The climactic rally of the ‘Replacement Party’, which culminates with the assassination attempt on fading singing star Barbara Jean (Ronee Blakley), was filmed at Nashville’s replica of Athens’ Parthenon. It’s not carved from marble (it’s cast in concrete), but it has something the Greek original doesn’t have – the Elgin marbles. OK, plaster casts of the Elgin marbles. And since Altman’s movie was filmed, a 40-foot-tall statue of Athena has been added.
The – full-scale – replica of the Greek temple was originally built for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition of 1897. You’ll find the Parthenon in Centennial Park, west of the city.
Nashville’s position grew out of the Grand Ole Opry radio show. And what country biopic would be complete without its Opry scene? If you’re visiting Nashville, you’ll want to visit the Ryman Auditorium, 116 Opry Place, one-time home of the Grand Ole Opry (which moved out to a purpose-built Opry House in the Opryland USA complex in 1974).