Kansas City is the Altman movie that time and most people forgot. Robert Altman made a film nearly 25 years ago that said a lot about politics and female identity issues. Jennifer Jason Leigh takes the lead as Blondie. Blondie loves her man, but also wants to make a name for herself among the low-life and High Class. What’s a girl to do?
Robert Altman in the 1990s is such a mixed bag. You have highlights with The Player and Short Cuts. Then, you’ve got things like the Branagh detective movie he made. How did a film like Kansas City slip through the cracks? Well, it came out during the height of the Miramax Revolution. Fine Line was the indie side for New Line Cinema which was the genre wing of Warner Brothers. So much corporate inbreeding that I’m still shocked that no one ended up with flipper babies.
What Jennifer Jason Leigh did with Altman’s material is craft a feminist take on the classic gangster tale. Hell, the only other person who holds their own in the matter is Harry Belafonte as the gangster Seldom Seen. Seldom Seen and Blondie work the angles in Kansas City from different perspectives. Blondie just wants respect and to have the sanity of her life restored.
Seldom Seen works as a peacekeeper in a time when peace is in short supply. The gangster kingpin holds Blondie’s husband hostage not because he’s a threat. But, because Johnny O’ Hara is a screw-up that threatens to undermine the city’s successes. Knowing that she has no allies in the underworld, Blondie then empowers the women of the wealthy to enforce influence over the Kansas City mob. Back and forth it goes until there is a final payoff.
Arrow Films always finds surprising releases. What I dig the most out of this one is the commentary, featurettes and exclusive booklet you get with this release. Quite the impressive release for a Blu-ray debut. Check out the screenshots to get a sense of the A/V Quality. I’d highly recommend this release!