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A Prairie Home Companion (film)

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A Prairie Home Companion
A film poster with photographs of the cast surrounding a microphone
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Altman
Screenplay byGarrison Keillor
Story by
Based onA Prairie Home Companion
by Garrison Keillor
Produced by
CinematographyEdward Lachman
Edited byJacob Craycroft
Music byGarrison Keillor
GreeneStreet Films[1]
River Road Entertainment[1]
Sandacastle 5[1]
Distributed by
Release dates
  • February 12, 2006 (2006-02-12) (Berlin)
  • June 9, 2006 (2006-06-09) (United States)
Running time
106 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$10 million[2]
Box office$26 million

A Prairie Home Companion is a 2006 American musical comedy film directed by Robert Altman and is his final film. It is a fictional representation of behind-the-scenes activities at the long-running public radio show of the same name. The film received mostly positive reviews and was a moderate box-office success on a small budget. The film features an ensemble cast including Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, Garrison Keillor, Kevin Kline, Lindsay Lohan, Virginia Madsen, John C. Reilly, Maya Rudolph, Meryl Streep, and Lily Tomlin.


In Saint Paul, Minnesota, the long-running live radio variety show A Prairie Home Companion prepares for its final broadcast, unbeknown to the listening audience. The radio station's new parent company has scheduled the show's home, the storied Fitzgerald Theater, for demolition, and dispatched "the Axeman" to judge whether to save the show.

In between musical acts, and under the watchful eye of PI Guy Noir (Kevin Kline), the show's denizens mingle and reminisce, including: the singing Johnson Girls, Yolanda (Meryl Streep), her sister Rhonda (Lily Tomlin), and daughter Lola (Lindsay Lohan); cowboy duo Dusty (Woody Harrelson) and Lefty (John C. Reilly); pregnant PA Molly (Maya Rudolph); the Stage Manager, Makeup Lady, and Sound Effects Man (real life Radio Acting Co. members Tim Russell, Sue Scott, and Tom Keith); and the show's creator and host, Garrison Keillor (often called "GK").

The show is visited by an otherworldly "Dangerous Woman" (Virginia Madsen) in a white trench coat revealed to be Lois Peterson, a listener who died in a car accident while listening to a past broadcast, now returned as the angel Asphodel; she lends comfort to the cast and crew for the show's ending and the death of the elderly Chuck Akers (L. Q. Jones) backstage.

The Axeman (Tommy Lee Jones) arrives and swiftly declares the show too old-fashioned to keep on the air. Asphodel escorts him from the theater to an untimely demise, but the show is still canceled.

Years later, the former cast reunites at Mickey's Diner with plans for a farewell tour. Their lively conversation pauses as Asphodel enters the diner.


Production notes[edit]

To receive insurance for the shoot, Robert Altman had to hire Paul Thomas Anderson as a "backup" director to observe filming at all times and be prepared to take over for Altman in case of his incapacity.

Using the working title The Last Show, principal photography for the film began on June 29, 2005, at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota (the radio show's usual venue), and ended on July 28, 2005.[3][4][5][6]


Box office[edit]

The film grossed $20,338,609 domestically (in a limited release) and $25,978,442 worldwide.

Critical response[edit]

A Prairie Home Companion opened the 2006 South by Southwest film festival on March 10, then premiered on May 3, 2006, at the Fitzgerald Theater, which had projection and sound equipment brought in for the purpose. The film's stars arrived in ten horse-drawn carriages. Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News anchored his newscast from neighboring Minneapolis, Minnesota, that night so that he would be able to attend.

Critics' general reaction to the film was favorable. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 82% based on 197 reviews, with an average rating of 7.12/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "The final film by the great Robert Altman, A Prairie Home Companion, the big screen adaptation of Garrison Keillor's radio broadcast showcases plenty of the director's strengths: it's got a gigantic cast and plenty of quirky acting and dialogue."[7] Roger Ebert awarded the film four out of four stars, saying, "What a lovely film this is, so gentle and whimsical, so simple and profound",[8] and later added the film to his "Great Movies" list.[9]

Michael Medved (himself a radio host) gave the film one and a half stars out of four, saying, "The entertainment value stands somewhere between thin and nonexistent" and "[it may be] the worst movie ever made that pooled the talents of four (count ‘em – four!) Oscar winners".[10]

Desson Thomson from The Washington Post fell in between, writing in a review headlined "Honey, You Could Ask for More" (a reference to the radio show's theme song) that while the movie had its strengths, it was weaker than it should have been.[11]


Streep won the Best Supporting Actress Award from the National Society of Film Critics for her role; Altman was also posthumously nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Director.


A Prairie Home Companion
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
ReleasedMay 23, 2006 (2006-05-23)
RecordedFitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota
LabelNew Line
Professional ratings
Review scores

A Prairie Home Companion is the soundtrack the 2006 film A Prairie Home Companion. It was released on May 23, 2006 via New Line Records.

Track listing[edit]

1."Tishomingo Blues"Garrison Keillor, Spencer WilliamsGarrison Keillor1:58
2."Gold Watch and Chain"A. P. CarterGarrison Keillor and Meryl Streep2:39
3."Mudslide"Pat DonohueThe Guys All-Star Shoe Band3:06
4."Let Your Light Shine on Me"Blind Willie JohnsonGarrison Keillor, Robin and Linda Williams and Prudence Johnson2:50
5."Coffee Jingle"Keillor, Kate MacKenzieGarrison Keillor and Jearlyn Steele0:52
6."Summit Avenue Rag"Richard DworskyThe Guys All-Star Shoe Band2:44
7."Guy's Shoes"DonohueThe Guys All-Star Shoe Band0:42
8."Whoop-I-Ti-Yi-Yo"Keillor, TraditionalWoody Harrelson and John C. Reilly2:32
9."Coming Down from Red Lodge"Peter OstroushkoThe Guys All-Star Shoe Band1:55
10."You Have Been a Friend to Me"CarterL. Q. Jones2:27
11."Old Plank Road"Robin and Linda WilliamsRobin and Linda Williams2:50
12."My Minnesota Home"Stephen Foster, KeillorMeryl Streep and Lily Tomlin3:38
13."A Bunch of Guys"DworskyThe Guys All-Star Shoe Band2:01
14."Slow Days of Summer"KeillorGarrison Keillor3:02
15."Frankie and Johnny"Keillor, TraditionalLindsay Lohan2:05
16."Waitin' for You"DonohueThe Guys All-Star Shoe Band2:41
17."Jens Jensen's Herring"Keillor, TraditionalThe Guys All-Star Shoe Band0:47
18."Red River Valley"TraditionalGarrison Keillor and Jearlyn Steele3:23
19."Strappin' the Strings"Andy SteinThe Guys All-Star Shoe Band2:27
20."Goodbye to My Mama"KeillorMeryl Streep and Lily Tomlin3:28
21."Bad Jokes"KeillorWoody Harrelson and John C. Reilly4:42
22."The Day Is Short"Dworsky, KeillorJearlyn Steele3:13
23."Atlanta Twilight"DworskyThe Guys All-Star Shoe Band2:36
24."Red River Valley"/"In the Sweet By-and-By"TraditionalCast Ensemble3:20
25."Guy Noir"KeillorThe Guys All-Star Shoe Band2:26

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (2006) Peak
US Billboard 200[13] 160
US Billboard Top Country Albums[13] 35
US Billboard Top Independent Albums[13] 10
US Billboard Top Soundtracks[13] 7

Home media [edit]

The DVD was released on October 10, 2006. Special features included deleted scenes, a behind-the-scenes documentary, and commentary by Altman and Kline.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Brunette, Peter (13 February 2006). "A Prairie Home Companion". Screen Daily. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  2. ^ Nat Segaloff, Final Cuts: The Last Films of 50 Great Directors, Bear Manor Media 2013 p 26
  3. ^ The film was the second major picture (after North Country, starring Charlize Theron and Harrelson) to be filmed in Minnesota in 2005.[citation needed]
  4. ^ Indie Wire Archived June 11, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Kaufman, Peter. "Radio for the Eyes". The Washington Post.
  6. ^ Carr, David (July 23, 2005). "Lake Wobegon Goes Hollywood (or Is It Vice Versa?), With a Pretty Good Cast". The New York Times.
  7. ^ "A Prairie Home Companion (2006)". Retrieved 25 May 2020 – via www.rottentomatoes.com.
  8. ^ "A Prairie Home Companion". Chicago Sun-Times. June 8, 2006. Archived from the original on July 22, 2012. Retrieved June 10, 2006.
  9. ^ "A Prairie Home Companion (2006)". Chicago Sun-Times. November 12, 2008. Archived from the original on September 27, 2012. Retrieved November 13, 2008.
  10. ^ Michael Medved's Movie Minute Archived 2008-03-11 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Thomson, Desson (June 9, 2006). "Honey, You Could Ask for More". The Washington Post.
  12. ^ Monger, James Christopher. "A Prairie Home Companion [New Line] – Original Soundtrack". AllMusic. Retrieved September 13, 2013.
  13. ^ a b c d "A Prairie Home Companion [New Line] – Original Soundtrack | Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved September 13, 2013.

External links[edit]