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VOL. 40 | NO. 30 | Friday, July 22, 2016

Exit/In on the big screen

By Tim Ghianni

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Keith Carradine performs on the Exit/In stage in a scene from Robert Altman’s 1975 film “Nashville.”

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Exit/In made a movie-star turn in Robert Altman’s 1975 film classic “Nashville.”

The movie was filmed in the city in late July, August and early September of 1974, with the climactic scene filmed at the Parthenon in Centennial Park, just down Elliston Place from Exit/In.

Even while he was making a biting satire at the city’s expense, he did not overlook the cinematic potential of the little listening room.

“It was very exciting,” says Liz Thiels, one of the co-owners at the time. “They paid us to be a location, and we got so excited we tried to spiff the place up a lot…. All the women brought their sewing machines and made tablecloths.”

She can’t remember how many scenes for the bitingly satiric look at Music City USA – considered to be among Altman’s best films – were shot at Exit/In

“More than one,” she says.

The best-known scene featuring the club has actor Keith Carradine (now the president on the TV show “Madam Secretary”) as Tom Frank singing “I’m Easy,” a song the actor had composed.

“I’m Easy” won the Best Song Oscar and Golden Globe. The movie soundtrack – including that song – also was nominated for a Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special Grammy in 1976.

Brugh Reynolds, also a co-owner at the time, recalls Altman coming to the club for recreation as well.

“New Grass Revival was playing that night. At the end of the show, the lights came up, and Owsley (Owsley Manier, also a co-owner) and I wanted to go meet Robert Altman.

“We introduced ourselves and he said, ‘You know, that was the best jazz I’ve heard in a long time.’... To call bluegrass jazz, well he saw it through a different lens.”

He laughs, then adds “that was another thing that happened at the Exit/In that we didn’t make any money on.”

Tim Ghianni

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