John McCabe (Beatty), gambler turned entrepreneur, finds a remote community in the 1900's Pacific Northwest, and with the help of savvy madam Constance Miller (Christie), turns it into a thriving town, built on what they both love and hold in common: vice. Soon, some determined business interests want to buy McCabe out, but he refuses, forcing an eventual showdown.
Altman's dark, ironic tale is more mood piece than classic western, painting an unidealized portrait of our country's expansion. Though we side with McCabe against the corporate interests, we realize we're actually rooting for a crooked card-shark whose relationship with a drug-addicted prostitute is anything but healthy. The movie's filled with stark, stunning visual set-pieces, and boasts one of Beatty's best performances. Peak Altman, and don't miss that finish!