California Split - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

California Split Reviews

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½ July 16, 2011
Another Altman classic. Elliott Gould and George Segal are compulsive gamblers. Funny and sad at the same time, masterful sound design and a loose narrative that works in the film's favour.
April 20, 2011
A good watch, not only for the humor value
½ February 28, 2011
Loose, stereotypical Altman film about two compulsive gamblers who work well together when they're not bickering. The film comes down to contrasting these two very different personality types, and how they handle the winning streak that concludes the film.
February 26, 2011
charming goofballs... elliott gould is as garrulous as ever. almost makes me want to go to reno. almost.
½ February 13, 2011
California Split is second-tier Altman, meaning that it's no Long Goodbye or McCabe and Mrs. Miller, but still pretty fantastic. I love the laid-back, messy vibe. The looseness does lead to a few dull patches, but for the most part California Split is incredibly refreshing. Eliot Gould is hilarious, and even the minor characters cluttering the corners of the film almost always are colorful and interesting. Definitely give this one a shot if you are an Altman fan.
December 8, 2010
One of Altman's lesser-known works, but pretty damn good for all of that. Gould and Segal are two sides of the same coin: compulsive gamblers on the look-out for the next big game, incapable of quitting or of living their lives outside of gaming tables or racetracks. Gould does not shut up, keeping an ongoing dialogue going with either himself or anyone who will listen. Segal says almost nothing. Ultimately Gould seems to be the happier of the two, existing almost purely on the adrenalin of his addiction. Perhaps one of the best films about compulsion ever made.
October 14, 2010
Classic Altman. George Segal and Elliott Gould--god the '70s!!!!--are both terrific here as two guys who meet and bond over gambling. Loose and rambling but quite charming. Gould is especially outstanding. You really wanna hang out with these guys, and the two "ladies of the night" Gould lives with. A terrific surprise.
½ August 28, 2010
Altman supo como contar esta historia, talvťz no sea la mas compleja, pero se las arregla para darnos un vistazo al mundo de los jugadores/apostadores compulsivos y a adentrarse en su siquis, Altman tiene el control del ritmo y del mood, al terminar de ver California Split uno no puede evitar pensar que acaba de ver una pelicula de un verdadero autor. George Segal y Elliot Gould dan buenas actuaciones.-
July 23, 2010
Charlie (Elliott Gould) and William (George Segal) play two excessive gamblers. They hit the poker tables, horse races, etc. pretty much anything which they can gamble on. Charlie is a fast talking manic who is always just looking for the big score. William has come under some trouble and owes his bookie a lot of money. We follow these two men as they gamble and drink all day long, everyday.

This film stylistically is much more tame then most of Altman's work. It is not nearly as flashy, but it does pack the emotional sadness which most of his films have. The film is really about the shallowness involved with gambling and how people that need to do such things really do so because they are missing something in their life. Must of the film is absolutely hysterical as we follow Charlie and William from poker table to bar to race track to bar, well you get the point. Elliott Gould is great in this film, as William; he is hysterical and really gives maybe even a better performance than in The Long Goodbye. The film is all fun until the final scene, where William begins to realize the error of his ways.

This is just another strong flick from Altman, its hilarious, fun, and sad all at the same time. Ironically enough, it really did make me want to go gamble...
½ June 26, 2010
Two guys meet in a California poker parlor. They did not know one another before, and they don't know much about one another now, yet they know all they need to know: They're both compulsive gamblers, and the extent of the universe of gambling match the extent of the universe they care anything about. It is an insular world and a flat one, and they are always menaced with careening over the tipping point. They're the lions of this rambling, non-judgmental film by Robert Altman. Their names are Bill and Charlie, and they're played by Elliott Gould and George Segal with candid realism and unadulterated fussy weariness. We don't require any knowledge about gambling to grasp the adventure they pursue to the tracks, to the private poker parties, to the bars, to Vegas, to the gallows of failure, to the scene of triumph. Their obsession is so vigorous that it moves us along.

We‚??re amused by their hangovers, their bruises nursed with hot shaving cream, the loopy part-time prostitutes who supply them with breakfasts of Froot Loops and beer. We coast smoothly through the racket of their friends, nonchalantly presented through Altman's penchant for overlapping dialogue and downplayed visual openers, so that we're not so much shown new characters as guided to suppose we were already familiar with them. And since Joseph Walsh's screenplay is amusing and Segal and Gould are genuinely engrossing, we have a good time.

However then there are scenes that assume darker implications, like at one point, at the craggy fringe of sleep, inebriated, conquer, Bill and Charlie stick hopelessly to a bar and rather gravely bet with one another on the names of the Seven Dwarfs. And at another time, trapped with their winnings in yet another parking lot by yet another mugger, this one armed, they hand over half their winnings and bet him that's all they have. As California Split rambles along we find that Altman has not made a farce about gambling. He's taken us into an American vision, and all the people we met along the way felt and looked authentic. This movie smacks of a musty rotating fan.

As always, Altman stocks his movie with eccentric peripheral characters, people who have by some means grown to parody themselves. At the exclusive poker game, Gould stands at the bar, analyzes the table, and in a whisper sizes up each player. He's correct about them, but he and we have never seen them before. We know he's right as these people bear their idiosyncrasies and fates on their faces. So do the hookers played with a sort of kindheartedness by Ann Prentiss and Gwen Welles. So does one of their customers who's a middle-aged man who likes drag as much as he's frightened of the cops causing a scene painfully mixed of tragic and comic character. Altman's movies invariably appear brimming and abundant, one way or another. We don't have the sense of a stationary screen into which painstakingly delineated characters are inducted single-file as much as a camera delving into a simmering surf of berserk civilized commotion.

I also saw The Long Goodbye just before this, which looks like a noir, sounds like a noir, but it‚??s not a noir. I don‚??t know what California Split looks and sounds like, certainly not a comedy, but in its own weird, subversive way, it is a comedy. What Altman comes up with is occasionally a sense of naturalism. At the end of California Split we‚??ve seen something about organized gambling in this country we hadn‚??t seen before. He draws his visual approach from a deeply conscientious soundtrack, employing ambient sound with painstaking delicacy so that our ears inform us we're moving through these people, rather than that they're taking turns talking to us. Indeed, this is the first film ever to use eight-track stereo sound that wasn‚??t shot in Cinerama. It worked.
½ May 3, 2010
once in a while there are movies where the dialog just flows. you don't even realize you are watching a movie, it just feels natural. This is one of those. Gould is brilliant and carries this movie all the way through.
February 14, 2010
Overall a good movie. But I have noo idea how to classify it or think about it. A completely different movie than what I've usually seen. I guess that is why it appealed to me.
December 31, 2009
One of Altman's lesser-known films, about a pair of compulsive gamblers. Awash with his signature improvisational acting and people talking all over each other, it's also got kind of a Cassavetes fly-on-the-wall feel to it. But I didn't think it had much spark to it, only a few moments really stand out and the rest feels like treading water. However, the killer ending is unexpected and fulfulling. Elliot Gould exudes charisma as usual, George Segal is a bit stiff.
December 17, 2009
California Split is an amazing picture and a great picture and a funny one too. Altman is in his filmmaking command and finally I think he gets it right. The picture is about two men who meet at a poker club and both are into gambling and fast luck. Elliott Gould and George Segal are both perfect for their roles. When I watched California Split I noticed that gambling is not the solution it's a problem and pretty soon one has to fold their cards and put away on betting on the throughbreds.
½ November 3, 2009
"California Split" invites viewers to laugh at the saturated world of compulsive gambling, while getting them too close to feel any sort of comfort while doing it. The film is so skilled in balancing its unique blend of abashment and anxiousness that it actually replicates the feeling one gets while gambling. A major work by Altman, that doesn't get nearly the amount of acclaim it deserves.
October 8, 2009
Robert Altman rolls the dice with Elliott Gould and George Segal.

California Split (1974) - 7.5/10
Director - Robert Altman
Starring - George Segal, Elliott Gould, Ann Prentiss, Gwen Welles, Ed Walsh, Joseph Walsh, Bert Remsen

Bill (George Segal) and Charlie (Elliott Gould) are compulsive gamblers. Bill is on a losing streak; his marriage is on the rocks and he's about to lose his job. Charlie is a loose cannon living with two hookers (Ann Prentiss and Gwen Welles). The two men become buddies and hope that together they can turn their fortunes around.

"California Split" isn't considered to be one of Robert Altman's most significant works. That said it probably doesn't deserve to be one of his most forgotten works either. After five years of deconstructing genres Altman created an almost freestyle film. The narrative is loose, the improvisation manic and plot is virtually non-existent. And for the most part it works remarkably well because Altman is so in tune with the atmosphere of the film. From the opening scene the viewer feels like they are in the same smoke-filled room as Bill and Charlie. We become distracted by the faces, the noises, the livliness of the room. It certainly has a documentary feel to it. And Altman wastes no time in developing the quirks of the two main characters, assuring the viewer that we won't be wasting our time following these two guys. In fact when the films reaches a lull it almost seems intentional; the guys just lose steam for awhile.

Obviously Altman is a confident filmmaker, but even so this wouldn't work without the chemistry of the two leads. George Segal and Elliott Gould play off each other incredibly well. As genuine as the friendship appears, you can also sense how fragile it is, afterall these are complusive gamblers. One truly funny and telling scene show the two men drinking at a bar when one issues a bet; can you name the seven dwarfs? Eliott Gould has the best lines and he's comedic gold in this film. George Segal's character has more of an arc serving as the conscience of the film.

Fans of Altman will certainly appreciate "California Split" but I don't think you have to be an Altman fan to enjoy it. The film not only serves up its share of laughs, but it's also offers one of the best depictions of gambling seen on film.
September 27, 2009
A bit too scattered, and there are some downright boring stretches. Decent cast, but it just lacks focus. A little too talky at times as well. Still, some great scenes here and there.
September 27, 2009
A bit too scattered, and there are some downright boring stretches. Decent cast, but it just lacks focus. A little too talky at times as well. Still, some great scenes here and there.
Super Reviewer
September 21, 2009
a stellar tragicomic buddy film about compulsive gamblers. extremely natural, even by altman standards. elliott gould at his manic peak
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