Seven Dwarfs – California Split (1974)

I only just saw California Split yesterday but it’s been buzzing around in my head ever since. I can’t stop thinking about the casual, breezy tone Altman creates. Both performances by George Segal and Elliott Gould are fantastic. I keep returning to this scene, it struck me immediately at being quite special. It’s the moment that the film sucked me in and had me completely. It feels so natural and of the moment that I wouldn’t be surprised if it was improvised by Segal and Gould on the spot. The way they both bounce the dialogue off of each other is wonderful. Gould even fucks up at one point (“that’s four”) but it’s an honest fuck up and totally works, especially as Segal remains in character and corrects him without missing a beat. Or perhaps this was all entirely scripted? With Altman’s films you never can tell which is part of their magic. What makes them great is that he could allow for moments like this, he’d let them slip through the cracks and become part of the intentional fabric. Fantastic.

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