UCLA Festival of Preservation
That Cold Day in the Park
dir. Robert Altman, US, 1969, 35mm, 112 min.
By 1969, Robert Altman was a prolific
director of episodic television, craving a transition to feature filmmaking,
but facing a steep climb toward his goal. His first few feature outings had not
sufficiently captured the imaginations of audiences or the film industry to
sustain a feature career.
That Cold Day in
the Park represented a daring gambit in this
context: quiet and cryptic, it displayed Altman’s iconoclastic fascinations: a
sensitivity to schisms within supposed “normalcy,” a fascination with female
subjectivity, and the construction of atmospheres as expressive of
psychological states. Sandy Dennis portrays Frances Austen, a young spinster
who occupies an apartment in Vancouver. There she listlessly entertains a
suitor several years her senior, and engages in rote domestic routines. From
her window one day, Frances spies a young man (Michael Burns) on a park bench
outside, visibly cold and wet. Inviting him inside, she shows the handsome
stranger, who is apparently mute, every hospitality—food, clothes, profuse
conversation, and a room of his own. Little does she realize that her charming,
receptive listener has a complex life of his own, to which he escapes nightly
through his bedroom window. The stage is set for conflict as Frances’
loneliness takes on a ferocity that drives the story to a harrowing conclusion.
35mm preservation print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive
Preservation funding provided by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and The Film Foundation
Preserved in cooperation with Paramount Pictures from the 35mm acetate original picture and track negatives, and a 35mm magnetic track. Laboratory services by YCM Laboratories, Audio Mechanics, DJ Audio.