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Robert Altman
biography, filmography and DVDs by the American director

Updated on November 22, 2006; last update on August 11, 2009
 
Robert Altman died on November 20, 2006 at the age of 81 at Los Angeles' Cedar Sinai Medical Center from cancer related complications. His latest film, A Prairie Home Companion, was release in June 2006. Robert Altman had been nominated for an Oscar five times, but only won the Academy's honorary lifetime achievement award in 2006.

Article added on August 15, 2002
Biography of Robert Altman
 
Robert Altman was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on February 20, 1925, as the oldest son of a wealthy insurance salesman. At six, the Roman-catholic boy entered St. Peters Catholic school and spent a short time at a Catholic high school before he went to Rockhurst high school where he began to experiment with a tape recorder. Afterwards he went to Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, MO which he attended through Junior College. In 1945, he enlisted in the Air Force and became a copilot of a B-24. At 20, he wrote short stories and screenplay drafts.

After his discharge from military service, Robert Altman worked for the Calvin Company. There, in the 1950s, he began making industrial and sports documentary as well as employee training films and advertisements. He left the Calvin Company in 1955.

His debut as a director of a feature film came in Kansas City with the teenage gang drama The Delinquents. The same year, together with his friend George W. George, he co-directed the documentary feature The James Dean Story.
 
From 1956 to 1964, Robert Altman worked for several TV companies. Alfred Hitchcock gave him a chance as director of episodes of his television series Alfred Hitchcock presents. Robert Altman went on to direct other TV series such as The Millionaire and Bonanza. His 1964 episode of the Kraft Suspense Theatre series about a serial killer was expanded to the feature-length Nightmare in Chicago. In 1968, he directed the feature film Countdown, a taut space drama. A year later followed the enigmatic thriller That Cold Day in the Park. In 1963, he founded his own production company Lion's Gate which he had to sell in 1981.
 
In 1969, Robert Altman was offered the script for the black comedy-drama about surgeons in a Korean War medical unit, M*A*S*H (1970). It was not only his breakthrough with a larger public and a global box office success, it also won him the Palme d'Or at the Cannes International Film Festival.
 
In 1970 followed his quirky fantasy Brewster McCloud and in 1971 his reinvention of the American Western genre with McCabe & Mrs. Miller, a film about the building of a frontier bordello.
 
In 1973 he explored film noir with his adaptation of Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye. It was followed a year later by Thieves Like Us, a film about the Depression and the communion of two male gamblers on a spree, California Split. Images (1972) and and 3 Women (1977) were haunting explorations of the interior lives of women. 1979 saw the release of a romantic comedy, A Perfect Couple and a social satire, HEALTH. He also directed a comic-book adaptation, Popeye (1980).
 
Robert Altman's second major commercial success came in 1975 with Nashville, a sprawling drama set in the world of country music in which he displayed his talent for working with large ensemble casts, a talent he also used in A Wedding (1978), Short Cuts (1993) and Gosford Park (2001). Nashville won him Oscar Nominations for Best Film and Best Director; awards for Best Film and Best Director came from the National Society of Film Critics.
 
In the 1980s, Robert Altman turned to the theater and theatrical adaptations with movies such as Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (play and film, 1982), Streamers (1983) and Fool for Love (1985). In 1987, he shot TV versions of Harold Pinter's The Dumb Waiter and The Room. A year later followed a television staging of Herman Wouk's original play The Caine Mutiny Court Martial.
 
Robert Altman's five episode HBO series Tanner '88 about a fictional candidate, shot among actual politicians in the real-life 1988 elections, won him an Emmy Award for directing.
 
He shot biopics such as Buffalo Bill and the Indians (1976) and Vincent and Theo (1990) about the painter Vincent Van Gogh and his brother. In 1984, Altman's fictionalised private history of Richard Nixon, Secret Honor, was released. 
 
In 1992, Robert Altman returned to popular and critical favor with The Player, a dark, comic and subtle film about the Hollywood movie scene. The dramatic Short Cuts (1993) was Oscar nominated for Best Director and won a Golden Globe for Best Ensemble Cast. Another critical and comic film followed with Prêt-à-porter (1994), a farce about the haute-couture fashion scene which was less convincing. Incidentally, Altman lived partly in Paris from 1985 to 1992.
 
Among his more recent films are the rather pale gangster-themed Kansas City (1996), its documentary companion film Robert Altman's Jazz '34: Remembrances of Kansas City Swing (1997) and contemporary comedies of Southern manners, the ensemble piece Cookie's Fortune (1997) and Dr. T and the Women (2000), and the film noir The Gingerbread Man (1998). Another masterpiece, probably his best film so far, came in 2001 with Gosford Park.
 
Robert Altman's work goes against Hollywood conventions and methods. The independent maverick tries to unmask questionable aspects of American life and its glitter and glamour worlds in satirical, often quasi-documentary films. He favors parallel actions over linear narration and encourages improvisation. He is a master in working with large ensemble casts.
 
Robert Altman also works as a screenwriter and producer and has successfully staged operas such as Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress. He has produced films such as Welcome to L.A. (1977), The Late Show (1977), Remember My Name (1978), Rich Kids (1979), Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (1994), Afterglow (1997) and Trixie (2000).
 
Order Robert Altman movies on DVD from Amazon.com.





Selected filmography of Robert Altman
Films as a director, (mostly) for the big screen. Order Robert Altman movies on DVD from Amazon.com.
 
The Company, 2003 (released 2004). With Neve Campbell, James Franco, Malcolm McDowell. Order the DVD from Amazon.com.
 

Gosford Park, 2001. Get it on DVD from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr, Amazon.ca, Amazon.de.
 

Dr.T and the Women, 2000. Get it on DVD from Amazon.com, Amazon.fr, Amazon.de, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon Canada.
 
Another City, Not My Own, 1999.
 
Cookie's Fortune, 1999. Get it on DVD from Amazon.fr, Amazon.de, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon Canada.
   

The Gingerbread Man, 1998. Get it on DVD from Amazon.com, Amazon.fr, Amazon.de, Amazon.co.uk.
 
Kansas City, 1996.
 
Jazz '34 aka Robert Altman's Jazz '34, 1996.
 
Ready To Wear/Prêt-à-Porter, 1994. Get it on DVD from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca.
 
Short Cuts, 1993. Oscar Nomination for Best Director; a Golden Globe for Best Ensemble Cast.
 
The Player, 1992. Oscar Nomination for Best Director; Golden Globe awarded as Best Film and Tim Robbins for Best Actor; awarded Best Director and Tim Robbins as Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival. Get it on DVD from Amazon.com, Amazon.fr, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon Canada.
 
Vincent & Theo, 1990.
 
Tanner '88, 1988.
 
Beyond Therapy, 1987.
 
Aria, 1987.
 
Fool For Love, 1985.
 
Secret Honor, 1984.
 
Streamers, 1983.
 
Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, 1982.
 
Popeye, 1980.
 
Health, 1980.
 
A Perfect Couple, 1979.
 
Quintet, 1979.
 
A Wedding, 1978.
 
Three Women aka 3 Women, 1977. Shelley Duvall awarded Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival; Sissy Spacek awarded Best Supporting Actress by the New York Film Critics.
 

Buffalo Bill And The Indians, 1976. Get it on DVD from Amazon.de, Amazon.ca.
 

Nashville, 1975. Oscar Nominations for Best Film and Best Director. Awarded Best Film and Best Director by the National Society of Film Critics. Get it on DVD from Amazon.com, Amazon.ca.
 
Thieves Like Us, 1974.
 
California Split, 1974.
 
The Long Goodbye, 1973. Get it on DVD from Amazon.com.
 
Images, 1972. Susannah York was awarded Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival.
 

McCabe And Mrs. Miller, 1971. Get it on DVD from Amazon.com.
 
Brewster McCloud, 1970.
 
M*A*S*H, 1970. Awarded with the Palme d'Or as Best Film at the Cannes Film Festival; awarded Best Film by the National Society of Film Critics; Oscar nominations for Best Film and Best Director. Get it on DVD from Amazon.com, Amazon.fr, Amazon.de, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca.
 
That Cold Day In The Park, 1969.
 
Countdown, 1968.
 
The Delinquents, 1957.
 
Better Football, 1954. Documentary.
 
The Builders, 1954. Documentary.
 
The Last Mile, 1953. Documentary.
 
King Basketball, 1952. Documentary.
 
Modern Football, 1951. Documentary.

Order Robert Altman movies on DVD from Amazon.com.

Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
English Politics History Art Film Music Lifestyle Travel
Français Politique Histoire Arts Film Musique Artdevivre Voyages

Index  Advertise  Werbung  Links  Feedback
© Copyright www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.