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Gabbard, K. (1997). Kansas City: Altman's Jazz History Lesson. Psychoanal. Rev., 84(4):635-639.

(1997). Psychoanalytic Review, 84(4):635-639

Kansas City: Altman's Jazz History Lesson

Krin Gabbard, Ph.D.

Robert Altman's Kansas City died a quick death at the box office in the fall of 1996. The director has never made feel-good movies, but Kansas City is grim even in comparison with Altman's other films. Reviewers complained about the one-note performance of Jennifer Jason Leigh, who must carry the film while engaging in a continuous imitation of Jean Harlow. It's hard enough to endure Jean Harlow for an entire film, let alone an actress playing a sociopath who wants to be Jean Harlow. Altman probably sealed the film's fate by making Leigh's character the most likable in the film. Almost all the other characters run the gamut from annoying to despicable. Although he returned to his home town and painstakingly re-created the Kansas City of 1934 where he was an impressionable child of 12, Altman's film does not express much affection for the place.

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