Open main menu

A Prairie Home Companion is a 2006 American ensemble comedy film directed by Robert Altman and is his final film. The film 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 its small budget.

A Prairie Home Companion
A film poster with photographs of the cast surrounding a microphone
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Altman
Produced byRobert Altman
Fisher Stevens
Written byGarrison Keillor
StarringWoody Harrelson
Tommy Lee Jones
Garrison Keillor
Kevin Kline
Lindsay Lohan
Virginia Madsen
John C. Reilly
Maya Rudolph
Meryl Streep
Lily Tomlin
Music byGarrison Keillor
CinematographyEdward Lachman
Edited byJacob Craycroft
Distributed byPicturehouse
New Line Cinema
Release date
Running time
106 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$10 million[1]
Box office$26 million

The film features an ensemble cast including Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Tommy Lee Jones, Woody Harrelson, Lily Tomlin, Garrison Keillor, Virginia Madsen, John C. Reilly, and Lindsay Lohan.



In Saint Paul, Minnesota, the long-running live radio variety show "A Prairie Home Companion" prepares for its final broadcast. 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 or not 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.

The show is visited by an otherworldly "Dangerous Woman" (Virginia Madsen), revealed to be a listener who died during 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 declares the show too old-fashioned to keep on the air. Though Asphodel escorts him from the theater to an untimely demise, the show is still cancelled.

Years later, the former cast reunites at Mickey's Diner with plans for a farewell tour. Their conversation pauses as they are joined by Asphodel.


Production notesEdit

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 usual venue for the radio show). Filming ended on July 28, 2005.[2][3][4][5]



A Prairie Home Companion opened the 2006 South by Southwest film festival on March 10, then premiered in St. Paul, on May 3, 2006, at the Fitzgerald Theater, which had projection and sound equipment brought in for that 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, and it garnered an 82% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. 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",[6] and later added the film to his "Great Movies" list.[7]

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".[8]

Desson Thomson from The Washington Post fell in between, saying in a review headlined "Honey, You Could Ask for More" (a reference to the theme song of the radio show and film) that while the movie had its strengths, it was weaker than it should have been.[9]


Meryl 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.

Box officeEdit

The film had a successful limited release in the United States and grossed $20,338,609 domestically and $25,978,442 worldwide.


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
AllMusic     [10]

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 listingEdit

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 performanceEdit

Chart (2006) Peak
US Billboard 200[11] 160
US Billboard Top Country Albums[11] 35
US Billboard Top Independent Albums[11] 10
US Billboard Top Soundtracks[11] 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. A Prairie Home Companion Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released on May 23, 2006, by New Line.


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

External linksEdit