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Overview for Robert Altman
Robert Altman

Robert Altman



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Also Known As: Died: November 20, 2006
Born: February 20, 1925 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Kansas City, Missouri, USA Profession: Director ...


Named a Knight of the Legion of Honor in 1996.

After "Popeye", which Altman still refuses to acknowledge was the failure critics labeled it, he changed his style. The master of the ensemble movie, he was often reduced to a cast of five, or two, or even--in the case of his extraordinary Richard Nixon monologue film, "Secret Honor"--just one. The blithe deconstructionist of screenplays, he stuck almost religiously to texts by David Rabe and Harold Pinter. The mixed celebrator/debunker of male camaraderie, he began to focus more on women and gay themes. He went from wide-screen to regular aspect ratio, foggy colors to sharp contours. The Altman of the 80s was often a very different director from the Altman of the 70s: arguably less inventive, but far more exacting, less of a virtuoso, more of a polished craftsman." --Michael Wilmington in Los Angeles Times, November 11, 1990.

"When you can direct great individual scenes, you can end up with some beautiful pearls. Then you can say, 'O.K., put them on a strand'. And you put them on a strand, and something is missing. It's just not a beautiful necklace. Altman is one of the few directors I've worked with who makes beautiful necklaces, not just the pearls." --Jack Lemmon on Altman's style of directing, from Interview, October 1993.

On Hollywood studio executives, Altman was quoted in The Hollywood Reporter (January 9, 2002): "I don't think I know any of their names. They make shoes, I make gloves."

"If there is any aspect of Robert Altman's work that fascinated me more than any other, it is his grasp of visual narrative. He has the eye of a choreographer grafted onto the brain of a dramatist, the heart of a dancer and the soul of a poet. So, he can steer the audience through incredibly complicated scenes, in which many different actors all have their own agenda and yet, somehow, and I don't know how, make it all perfectly clear on the screen. Part of this comes from a genuine love of, and respect for, actors. This is, believe me, rare among directors and as a result the cast all strive to do their best in the certain knowledge that their contribution is being appreciated (it really is) but, even so, how he can throw the camera at five or six different things going on at once without losing the thread of any of them must remain something of a sacred mystery." --"Gosford Park" screenwriter Julian Fellowes at

"I try to give them [actors] confidence and try to earn their trust...and I won't let them make fools out of themselves. In other words, I will protect them so they are not afraid to go over the top."- Altman Entertainment Weekly 2002

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