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Brewster McCloud (1970)

The Houston Astrodome is a great place to shoot a movie. It’s big, it’s round, and the translucent roof lets in plenty of light. As a set, it cries out to the filmmaker, “use me”.

Robert Altman (who directed M*A*S*H) wasted the Astrodome, lots of money, and 90 minutes of the viewing audience’s time.

Owlish Brewster McCloud (Bud Cort) is a long-haired homicidal psychopath who lives in the fallout shelter at the Houston Astrodome. He is obsessed with birds and determined to fly.

A blind girl (Sally Kellerman) – who may be a hallucination or an angel or his fairy godmother – helps him kill people. Cops chase him around Houston. Girls chase him around Houston.

He makes his solo flight. He flies. He falls and dies.

There are a couple of nice bits in the movie, both in the last five minutes.

The first nice bit is Brewster’s flying sequence, which is beautiful with heart-stopping shots of Brewster soaring gracefully around the roof of the Astrodome.

The second nice bit is in the end credit sequence, which comes right after Brewster falls to his death. It’s done as a Fellini circus and the entire cast gathers in circus garb to take their final bows.

Each of the actors, in turn, steps out of character and takes a curtain call, but when it’s Brewster’s turn the camera cuts to a close-up of him lying on the ground, broken and dead. I have no idea what it’s supposed to mean, either.

Brewster McCloud
Bud Cort
Louise
Sally Kellerman
Frank Shaft
Michael Murphy
Sheriff Haskel Weeks
William Windom
Suzanne Davis
Shelley Duvall
Lecturer
René Auberjonois
Abraham Wright
Stacy Keach
Police Lieutenant Alvin Johnson
John Schuck
Daphne Heap
Margaret Hamilton
Hope
Jennifer Salt
Police Lieutenant Hines
Corey Fischer
Police Captain Crandall
G. Wood
Policeman Douglas Breen
Bert Remsen
Mrs Breen
Angelin Johnson
Eugene Ledbetter
Dean Goss
Bernard
Bill Baldwin
Professor Aggnout
Keith V. Erickson
Wendell
Ronnie Cammack

Director

Robert Altman