Ready to Wear (1994) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Robert Altman's career path looks a bit like a roller coaster

  1. (7.79) - MASH (1970)
  2. (7.79) - Player, The (1992)
  3. (7.76) - Nashville (1975)
  4. (7.59) - Short Cuts (1993)
  5. (7.49) - Gosford Park (2001)
  6. (7.45) - McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)
  7. (7.34) - Long Goodbye, The (1973)
  8. (7.28) - 3 Women (1977)
  9. (7.05) - Vincent & Theo (1990)
  10. (6.99) - Cookie's Fortune (1999)
  11. (6.93) - Images (1972/I)
  12. (6.65) - Thieves Like Us (1974)
  13. (6.64) - Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, The (1988) (TV)
  14. (6.64) - Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982)
  15. (6.61) - Wedding, A (1978)
  16. (6.42) - Secret Honor (1984)
  17. (6.41) - Streamers (1983)
  18. (6.36) - Brewster McCloud (1970)
  19. (6.26) - California Split (1974)
  20. (6.17) - Countdown (1968)
  21. (5.87) - That Cold Day in the Park (1969)
  22. (5.76) - James Dean Story, The (1957)
  23. (5.75) - Perfect Couple, A (1979)
  24. (5.72) - Kansas City (1996)
  25. (5.71) - Gingerbread Man, The (1998)
  26. (5.46) - Fool for Love (1985)
  27. (5.34) - Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson (1976)
  28. (5.24) - HealtH (1982)
  29. (5.20) - Basements (1987) (TV)
  30. (5.19) - Aria (1987)
  31. (4.97) - O.C. and Stiggs (1987)
  32. (4.92) - Dr. T & the Women (2000)
  33. (4.82) - Popeye (1980)
  34. (4.82) - Prêt-à-Porter (1994)
  35. (4.61) - Quintet (1979)
  36. (4.49) - Beyond Therapy (1987)

His top seven films are considered classics. Four of them were made in his golden age from 1970-1975, the other three in Altman's 1992-2001 comeback. The eighties were not kind to him, to say the least. Seven of his bottom nine were made in the 1979-1987 period. The other two were this film (Ready to Wear is also known as Prêt-à-Porter), and Dr T and the Woman.

If Ready to Wear gets no respect from IMDb voters, it isn't likely to make it all up with love from critics or moviegoers, either. Rotten Tomatoes say there were 75% bad reviews, and it limped home with a $6 million domestic gross . About the only place where they sorta liked it was France, where it sold 666,000 tickets in a country with 55 million people - roughly equivalent in popularity to a $30 million film in the USA.

Although it is no classic, I don't know if Ready to Wear is all that bad a film. Its critical reception was negatively affected by unrealistically high expectations. Altman was coming off two of his top films and appeared to be back on top. He had savagely, incisively satirized the movie industry in The Player and he was expected to do the same to the fashion industry in Ready to Wear. Instead, he produced a rambling, disjointed kind of film with very little focus, and almost no bite. It did look beautiful and had some great technique. For example, some of his scenes involved placing actors in real, live fashion shows, incorporating the real events as background.

When Altman did get inside the fashion world, the movie was pretty interesting and colorful, although his satire lacked any teeth, but the great weakness of the film is that a lot of it has nothing to do with the fashion world at all. One of the many sub-plots involves two reporters (Julia Roberts and Tim Robbins) who get stuck in the same hotel room and end up making love for days. They could have been in a movie on any subject. In another peripheral story, Danny Aiello plays the part of a transvestite buyer. What the hell does that have to do specifically with the fashion industry? Altman just shoehorned Aiello's character into the fashion scene by making him a Marshall Fields buyer, but he didn't interact with any of the fashion people, so he could have been in town for a completely different purpose.


There is only some brief nudity in the first 128 minutes. Kasia Figura flashes her butt under panty hose, Tracey Ullman's butt is seen in a thong, and Sally Kellerman takes out her breasts in a pseudo-seduction scene.

But there is a monumental amount of full frontal nudity in the last five minutes, when more than a dozen gorgeous supermodels walk the runway in their birthday suits. The bald chick is Ève Salvail, the pregnant woman is Ute Lemper, and the tall black woman is Georgianna Robertson. The rest, I don't know.

I do have to admit that Aiello looks awesome in women's clothing, however, so it was worth it. That man is HOT! That reminds me of a line delivered at a Jimmy Kimmel roast by his comedienne girlfriend: "Why does Jimmy have a career? He's fat and ugly and he has no charisma. Watch your back, Danny Aiello."

DVD info from Amazon

  • Widescreen letterbox 2.35:1. Good, not great transfer.

  • no meaningful features

The highly touted sub-plot between Mastroianni and Loren was also cobbled into a fashion context. Their story was generic, and could have been plugged just as easily into any industry from arms manufacturing to convenience stores.

I think there was probably a respectable 90 minute movie in that footage somewhere on the main road, but Altman ended up with kind of a bloated 133 minute film loaded with many detours, and some scenes which were too obviously improvisational. It's rated 4.8 at IMDb. That's probably too low. It isn't that bad, but it isn't that good, either.

The Critics Vote

  • Roger Ebert's 2.5/4 was a typical score. The other ones listed at MRQE go from a low of 2/5 to a high of C+.

The People Vote ...


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this film is a C-. Good looking film, with many interesting moments and ideas, but ultimately a disjointed, rambling satire with no real bite.

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