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Monday, February 20, 2017

"I never knew what I wanted, except that it was something I hadn't seen before."

Altman.jpg


1970 MASH; Brewster McCloud
1971 McCabe & Mrs. Miller
1973 The Long Goodbye
1974 Thieves Like Us; California Split Yes
1975 Nashville
1976 Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson
1977 3 Women
1978 A Wedding
1979 Quintet ; A Perfect Couple
1980 Health; Popeye
1981 Endless Love
1982 Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean
1983 Streamers
1984 Secret Honor
1985 Fool for Love; O.C. & Stiggs
1987 Beyond Therapy; Aria
1990 Vincent & Theo
1992 The Player
1993 Short Cuts
1994 Prêt-à-Porter
1996 Kansas City
1998 The Gingerbread Man
1999 Cookie’s Fortune
2000 Dr. T & the Women
2001 Gosford Park
2003 The Company
2006 A Prairie Home Companion


Robert Altman was born on this day in 1925. I count my blessings that I was alive when he made movies. He and Peter Greenaway are the only directors whose works I went way out of my way to see. It took me two tries to see Health, for example, in first release.

I showed up for the first screening at the Clinton Street Theater in Portland, Oregon. The could afford to show Altman movies- most of which never made big numbers- because they had the rights to The Rocky Horror Picture Show for Oregon, and that movie’s fans made it a weekly costume party.

But even the Clinton Street drew the line at showing Health to one guy. Keep the concession stand open on the off chance I might come out for some Raisinets?

Well, OK, I said, and when I came back three nights later I had eleven friends in tow.

Cookie’s Fortune remains one of the great portrayals of what makes small town life so dear to insiders and so incomprehensible to visitors. Gosford Park turned the stately home mystery into a whimsy of detection and a sharp-eyed upstairs-downstairs social commentary. 3 Women is brilliant. Ditto MASH; McCabe; The Player. A Wedding dissected the Great Traditional American Event.

Even his flops (alas, poor Popeye), were more interesting than most successful films.

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