Images from Warner Bros.
Shelly Duvall is an incredibly prolific actress, producer and writer with a career spanning decades. She is best known for playing quirky and eccentric characters, but the talented veteran has consistently demonstrated that she can master the big dramatic roles that are demanded of her.
After 20 years of inactivity, Duvall returns to the big screen in writer-director Scott Goldberg’s upcoming indie horror film. The forest hills. In celebration of Duvall’s return to acting, here is a ranking of her best films and TV shows from her long career.
12. Buffalo Bill and the Indians or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson
Buffalo Bill is a unique and iconic film that turns the Western genre on its head. The film sends a clear message about how American history is often false and fictionalized to make the heroes seem more heroic. It shows how Buffalo Bill tried to convince Sitting Bull to corroborate his false stories about the American West, but Sitting Bull refuses as he is morally upright and good. Duvall plays the President’s wife, Frances Cleveland, in a relatively minor role.
Based on the 1897 play, Cyrano of Bergerac, Roxanne is a cute and quirky romantic comedy about a firefighter named CD and his weirdly long nose. He helps one of his colleagues woo the woman he is interested in, Roxanne, by writing her letters. As CD continues to pretend to be his colleague to impress Roxanne, she falls in love with CD instead, although she doesn’t realize it yet. Duvall plays Steve Martin’s supportive and slightly meddlesome godsister who helps the couple eventually get together.
10 Brewster McCloud
Brewster McCloud was the first of many projects directed by Robert Altman and starring Shelly Duvall. The dark comedy follows a young introvert who lives in the Houston Astrodome’s nuclear fallout shelter. He’s trying to build himself a pair of Icarus-style wings. Duvall plays a seductive temptress named Suzanne, who distracts Brewster from his goal and ends up selling him to the police.
9. thieves like us
thieves like us Set during the Great Depression, it follows a group of three men as they travel the southern states robbing banks. One of the thieves, Bowie, falls in love with a woman named Keechie, played by Duvall. Keechie is a sweet and naive young woman, but Bowie’s job puts a strain on their relationship as he refuses to stop stealing. Duvall’s solid portrayal of the character was perfect for the tragic tone of this crime drama.
8th. bandits of time
Duvall’s part in bandits of time probably only counts as a cameo, but the film is so much fun and popular that it had to be on the list. The film follows a young boy who embarks on a time traveling adventure with a group of thieves who commit robberies throughout the story. Duvall plays a medieval woman whom the bandits meet when they land in their time. She only has a few lines in this scene, but watching her play a shocked aristocrat was highly entertaining.
7. tall tales and legends
Shelly Duvall created tall tales and legends as her second children’s anthology series, and she also starred as a host in every episode. The show adapted various folk tales and stories, particularly those of American descent. The show received critical acclaim and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award. It aired on Showtime and The Disney Channel.
6. McCabe and Mrs. Miller
McCabe and Mrs. Miller is a revisionist western film starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie and directed by Robert Altman. Set in the Wild West, the film follows a gambler and a prostitute who decide to become business partners and open a brothel together. The film was praised for its subversion of conventional tropes in Western films and was selected by the Library of Congress to be preserved in the US National Film Registry.
5. Annie Hall
Duvall only plays a small part in it Annie Hall, but she was undoubtedly a scene thief. The film follows a man named Alvy who is still in love with his ex, Annie Halll. A year after their breakup, he tries to figure out what went wrong. Duvall plays a slightly neurotic woman who Alvy goes on a date with while he tries to figure out if he still wants to be with Annie. It’s that disaster date that brings him back to Annie and Duvall, who have embraced the role, playing their character’s obsession with Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger.
4. Fairy Tale Theatre
Fairy Tale Theatre was Duvall’s first foray into children’s television, and the anthology series featured live-action retelling of popular fairy tales, particularly by Hans Christian Anderson, the Brothers Grimm, and other popular authors. Each episode flipped the stories and featured Duvall as host and narrator, with celebrity guest appearances in many roles.
3. 3 women
Another collaboration between Duvall and Robert Altman, 3 women is a complex and captivating drama about identity, femininity and friendship. The film was praised for its surrealistic tone as well as its perfect blend of humor, satire, drama and other genres. Duvall’s character, Mildred, is a loud and self-absorbed spa clerk, and she and a colleague named Pinky, played by Sissy Spacek, begin an unlikely friendship that becomes the emotional core of the film.
It’s hard to pin down Nashville in a genre as the film contains elements of a musical, satirical comedy, drama and more. The film, directed by Robert Altman, is set in Nashville, Tennessee and follows the lives of several people involved in the country and gospel music scene as they prepare for a gala concert for the President. Duvall plays a country music groupie named Martha, and her genuine devotion to the male singers is sure to put a friendly smile on everyone’s face.
1. The glow
Duvall’s role in Stanley Kubrick’s The glow is still considered one of her best performances. Duvall starred as a wife and mother in the chilling film, which followed a family working as hotel janitors and falling victim to dark influences. Her son begins to have psychic experiences while her husband slowly loses his mind and suffers from murderous insanity. The glow Often hailed as one of the best horror films of all time, it is a classic not only in genre but in film.