Brewster McCloud is probably one of Altman’s most visually appealing movies. Coming rather soon after the success of MASH, this film exists as a constant reminder that 1970 afforded more cinematic experimentation. After having Odo introduce the film to us, we go to a Houston of the future that looks exactly 1970. He’s a bookish kid that lives in the fallout shelter while devising a realistic set of wings. Much like Opus and Little Dieter, Brewster wants to fly with wings that work.
Robert Altman must have been a terror back then for studios. He had enough of a mainstream appeal, but he couldn’t stop playing in the weirder parts of the sandbox. If that wasn’t enough, he only wanted to work with a handful of actors that would follow him into whatever crazy narrative. I can see bean counters enjoying the appeal of having it be the first movie shot inside the Astrodome. But, did it matter?
Fixed sets are great for smaller budgeted shoots, but it didn’t add much to the story. Neither did the circus ending, but it looked cool. I miss a time where directors went for looking cool. The substance is nice too and it’s always a pleasure to see vintage Shelley Duvall.