Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Nashville (1975)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Nashville (1975)

In maverick director/producer Robert Altman's country-western character study - a classic, multi-level, original, two and a half-hour epic study of American culture, show-business, leadership and politics - one of the great American films of the 1970s; the director miraculously interwove and criss-crossed the lives and destinies of 24 different characters in a free-flowing tapestry or kaleidoscope - especially in the opening sequences, during a five day (long weekend) period in Nashville, Tennessee (the "Athens of the South") in 1976, culminating in an outdoor gala fund-raising concert and political rally for unseen US Presidential candidate Hal Phillip Walker (Thomas Hal Phillips) running for the populist Replacement Party:

  • in the opening sequences, most of the major characters were introduced as they converged on Nashville, including:
    • Grand Ole Opry country superstar Haven Hamilton (Henry Gibson), first appearing in a recording studio singing the ultra-patriotic song "200 Years" about the Bicentennial
    • British reporter Opal (Geraldine Chaplin) representing the BBC and working on interviews for a radio documentary; she became one of popular singer Tom's many sexual conquests
    • white gospel singer Linnea Reese (Lily Tomlin), married mother of two deaf children
    • mentally and physically-frail country singer Barbara Jean (Oscar-nominated Ronee Blakley), arriving at the local airport with her concerned husband-manager Barnett (Allen Garfield); after fainting, she required hospitalization
    • Connie White (Karen Black), Barbara Jean's rival country singer, causing Barbara Jean and her manager-husband to worry that Connie would replace her
    • Pfc. Glenn Kelly (Scott Glenn), a Vietnam War veteran and obsessed Barbara Jean fan
    • a popular folk singing trio known as "Bill, Mary, and Tom" - with the hit song "It Don't Worry Me"; singers Bill (Allan F. Nicholls) and Mary (Cristina Raines) were married, while the womanizing Tom Frank (Keith Carradine) played guitar, but aspired to be a solo artist; Mary was having sex on the side with the promiscuous Tom, causing disruptions in her relationship with her husband Bill
    • skinny, teenaged groupie Martha (Shelley Duvall), renamed "L.A. Joan," purportedly in town to visit her uncle Mr. Green (Keenan Wynn) and hospitalized Aunt Esther, who died within a few days
    • the so-called Tricycle Man (Jeff Goldblum), a mute and quirky individual who eventually hooked up with Martha
    • John Triplette (Michael Murphy), Walker's presidential campaign consultant, and one of the organizers of the concluding Parthenon concert

Haven Hamilton (Henry Gibson)

Opal (Geraldine Chaplin)

Connie White (Karen Black)

Married Folk Singers Bill (Allan F. Nicholls) and Mary (Cristina Raines)

Martha (Shelley Duvall) - L.A. Joan

The Tricycle Man (Jeff Goldblum)

Pfc. Glenn Kelly (Scott Glenn)

Mr. Green (Keenan Wynn)

John Triplette (Michael Murphy)
  • after her hospital discharge, during an Opry Belle matinee public concert sequence, the vulnerable star singer Barbara Jean appeared in a white, bridal-type gown with her brown flowing hair arranged with pink ribbons; she first performed "Tapedeck in His Tractor" (The Cowboy Song) with great energy, followed by her second impassioned song "Dues" that told of hurt in an embattled marriage; between songs and a few false starts, she began to unravel as she reminisced about a phone-in radio show, and then remembered her grandmother and her childhood - the band behind her impatiently waited for her to finish her lunatic, nostalgic ramblings about the burdens of her life and how her mother pushed her into a singing career when she was very young, before she was hustled off the stage
  • throughout the film, black limousines haphazardly appeared, carrying unseen presidential political party candidate Hal Phillip Walker (Thomas Hal Phillips) (for the Replacement Party) and his entourage, including organizer John Triplette (Michael Murphy) and Delbert "Del" Reese (Ned Beatty)
  • folk singer Tom seductively sang his new solo number "I'm Easy" to a crowd in the Exit Inn - with the camera slowly showing the faces of aroused female audience members (including L.A. Joan, Mary, and Opal) and married gospel singer Linnea Reese seated in the back; Tom dedicated the song to someone special in the audience; Linnea met up afterwards for sex in his hotel room
  • desperate wannabe Sueleen Gay (Gwen Welles) - a dim-witted, red-haired, tone-deaf, lower-class airport cafe waitress, aspired to be a singer. She had been invited to appear at an all-male political, Walker fund-raising smoker (that she thought was a singing engagement, but instead was a stag party). She descended from the ceiling on a stage - wearing a provocative green dress and promised to sing "I Never Get Enough" - "about a girl who never gets enough." Shamelessly, the amateur, tone-deaf singer began her flat-tuned song off-key. She also sang a second song titled "When I Love You" before the misogynistic crowd
  • with the promise of appearing the next day at Walker's political concert by "Del" Reese, Sueleen agreed to embarrassingly perform a bump-and-grind striptease. It was a clumsy, inept, asexual un-dressing in front of the crowd, including removing the socks-padding from her bra and tossing them into the hooting group of spectators before going topless to satiate the crowd. Thoroughly humiliated by the show's end, she had stripped off her dress, bra, and her yellow panties (also tossed to a cheering male) before running off
  • in the concluding tragic and shocking sequence at a country music festival/political rally for Walker at the Parthenon (with a billowing American flag serving as the mammoth backdrop for the concert), Barbara Jean sang a duet on stage with country-star host Haven Hamilton, titled "One, I Love You"

Duet: "One, I Love You"

Barbara Jean: "My Idaho Home"
At Parthenon Concert, Haven Hamilton (Henry Gibson) with Country Singer Barbara Jean (Ronee Blakley)
  • Barbara Jean also performed her personal solo song "My Idaho Home" (a wistful song about her mother and father); when she was finished, Haven circled around her with his arms in a Victory position (with one hand grasping a bouquet of white carnations for her) and nodded toward the appreciative applause for her song, and then presented the beloved, pure-spirited singer with the flowers
  • two gunshots rang out - Barbara Jean fell backwards mortally wounded (seen only at a distance), and Haven, who had selflessly tried to shield her, sprawled on top of her with a bloody gunshot wound in his upper right arm; after the arbitrary killing and panic broke out, Kenny Frasier (David Hayward) - the demented assassin in the crowd (with a violin case carrying the weapon) - was subdued by shocked onlookers including Pfc Kelly, wrestled to the ground, and soon hauled off by state police
The Assassination of Barbara Jean On-Stage
  • Haven grabbed the microphone after the unexpected disaster and rallied the crowd to be calm by singing: "You all take it easy now. This isn't Dallas. It's Nashville. This is Nashville. You show 'em what we're made of. They can't do this here to us in Nashville. OK everybody, sing. Come on somebody, sing. You sing"
  • the dying Barbara Jean was quickly replaced with unknown aspiring singer-songwriter and performer Winifred, aka 'Albuquerque' (Barbara Harris); earlier in the film, she had separated from her unsupportive husband Star (Bert Remsen), 'Albuquerque' calmed the crowd with "It Don't Worry Me" and rose to the occasion as a new star, to rally the crowd with her stirring, healing anthem of passivity

Barbara Jean (Ronee Blakley) - Her Arrival at Nashville Airport

Folk Singing Trio: Bill and Mary and Tom

Mary's Promiscuous Affair with Tom

Kenny Frasier (David Hayward) With Violin Case in Front of Walker Campaign Posters

Concert Performance of "Dues" by Barbara Jean Before Suffering A Breakdown

Barbara Jean's Worried Manager-Husband Barnett (Allen Garfield)

Folk Singer Tom (Keith Carradine): "I'm Easy"

Linnea Reese (Lily Tomlin) - Aroused Listening to Tom Sing

After the Show, Linnea Had Sex with Tom

Sueleen Singing Before Strip-Tease

The Parthenon Music Festival and Political Rally

Following the Shooting, 'Albuquerque' (Barbara Harris) Sang: "It Don't Worry Me"


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