Mojo (UK) - - What Goes On! -

It was the big­gest night in the history of Nashville’s Martin 100 Oaks The­atre. Opened in 1966 at 719 Thomp­son Lane, it was fa­mous for its use of rock­ing chairs – though one for­mer man­ager blamed his early de­par­ture from the job on the fact that he couldn’t stand them fall­ing to bits any longer. But that Fri­day evening, all 741 seats were filled as the cit­i­zens of Mu­sic City set­tled down to the gala pre­miere of Robert Altman’s coun­try mu­sic epic Nashville. A sprawl­ing mu­sic biz and po­lit­i­cal satire, the film had opened at two New York the­atres in June to largely glow­ing re­views. Hol­ly­wood Reporter raved: “Never be­fore has an Amer­i­can movie had quite the tex­ture, the den­sity of both vi­su­als and of mu­sic. It’s the most epochal event since Ci­ti­zen Kane.” The New York Times agreed: “Robert Altman’s Nashville is the movie sen­sa­tion that all other Amer­i­can movies this year will be mea­sured against. It’s a film that a lot of other direc­tors will wish they’d had the bril­liance to make.” While the movie, which had 24 ma­jor roles and 27 songs, was mak­ing a me­dia im­pact, in Ten­nessee there were rum­blings, and sus­pi­cions that maybe Altman’s view of coun­try wasn’t favourable to Opry­land. Ronee Blak­ley’s Bar­bara Jean char­ac­ter was re­puted to be based on Loretta Lynn, while Henry Gib­son’s por­trayal of Haven Hamil­ton did no favours to lu­mi­nar­ies like Roy Acuff and Porter Wagoner. It was noted that Merle Kil­gore, the co-writer of Ring Of Fire and best man at Johnny Cash and June Carter’s wed­ding, was the only coun­try mu­si­cian of note listed in the main cast. Even so, many Nashville no­ta­bles ar­rived at the Martin that hot Fri­day night keen to see how they’d been por­trayed by Hol­ly­wood. Out­side the the­atre 4,000 peo­ple as­sem­bled along­side the red car­pet, as ma­jor- ettes the Ten­nessee Twirlers en­ter­tained and mayor-elect Richard Ful­ton and Sher­iff Fate Thomas stood ready to wel­come Blak­ley, Gib­son and co-stars Keith Car­ra­dine and Dave Peel, though di­rec­tor Altman was ab­sent, work­ing on his next pic­ture. As limos pulled up, Mu­sic City’s stars waved at the fans. “Hey there’s Brenda Lee,” some­one yelled, as the diminu­tive star be­mus­edly de­scended from one ve­hi­cle. The ar­rival of such as Webb Pierce, Roy Acuff, Ron­nie Mil­sap, Bil­lie Jo Spears, Jeanne Pruett, Del Wood, Jody Miller and Min­nie Pearl kept fans cheer­ing, while the Sil­ver Spurs band,


The old man and Ten­nessee: Robert Altman (left) presents scenes from Nashville (clock­wise from left) ac­tors Lily Tom­lin and Keith Car­ra­dine; Karen Black; Ronee Blak­ley (at podium) and Henry Gib­son (in Nudie suit); film poster; Car­ra­dine and Brenda Lee...

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