Cinema: Romance of the Road

THIEVES LIKE US

Directed by ROBERT ALTMAN

Screenplay by CALDER WILLINGHAM, JOANTEWKESBURYand ROBERT ALTMAN

Robert Altman's recent movies (M*A*S*H, McCabe and Mrs. Miller and The Long Goodbye) are like model kits. Each one comes in little pieces, some of which are lovingly and intricately fashioned. Each is made to scale for a specific genre: the service comedy, the western, the private-eye melodrama. Altman encloses no instructions, though. That is the challenge and the catch, and accounts in part for the appeal his films exercise for many critics. It is not that Altman movies are open-ended so much as that they are any-ended. They...

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