Robert Altman

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Robert Altman
Robert Bernard Altman
Birthday
BirthplaceKansas City, Missouri, United States
Died
Occupation
Film director and screenwriter

Altman, Robert,

1925–2006, American film director, b. Kansas City, Mo. One of the most original talents in late-20th-century American filmmaking, he created complex, often loosely plotted movies marked by brilliant and often huge ensemble casting, sharply delineated characters, overlapping dialogue, and an edgy spontaneity. Altman began his career writing for radio and magazines, made industrial and sports films (1946–56), and worked in television, directing episodes of some of the best-known television series of the late 1950s and early 60s. After directing several forgettable feature films, Altman scored his first success with M*A*S*H (1970), a Korean War comedy-drama that implicitly criticized the Vietnam War. Throughout the 1970s he enjoyed an unusual degree of creative control and independence as he directed numerous idiosyncratic films, including Brewster McCloud (1970), McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971), Thieves like Us (1974), and Three Women (1977).

Altman's second major commercial success, Nashville (1975), a sprawling, multilayered drama set in the world of country music, is widely considered his masterpiece. In the 1980s he turned to theater and theatrical adaptations in Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (play and film, 1982), Streamers (1983), and Fool for Love (1985). He returned to popular and critical favor with the film The Player (1992), a witty skewering of the Hollywood movie scene that features one of the most spectacular tracking shots in movie history. Altman struck directorial gold again in Gosford Park (2001), a witty, stylish, and multileveled social comedy–murder mystery set in a 1930s English country estate, which displays his ensemble technique and his keen awareness of class and sexual conflicts. Among Altman's other movies are Vincent and Theo (1990); Short Cuts (1993); Kansas City (1996); The Company (2003), a drama inspired by the Joffrey BalletJoffrey Ballet,
one of the major American dance companies. It was founded in New York City in 1956 by the dancer-choreographer Robert Joffrey. From 1956 to 1964 it made yearly tours of the United States.
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; and the elegaic A Prairie Home Companion (2006), his last film. In addition, he directed two mock political documentaries for television, the series Tanner '88 (1988) and Tanner on Tanner (2004), both with screenplays by Garry TrudeauTrudeau, Garry Beekman
, 1948–, American political cartoonist, b. New York City. Since its debut in 1969, his comic strip "Doonesbury" has satirized contemporary events, personalities, and lifestyles, and because it has addressed such controversial issues as Watergate, the
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. Altman was also a screenwriter and producer. In 2006 he was awarded an Academy Award for lifetime achievement.

Bibliography

See biography by P. McGilligan (1989); M. Zuckoff, Robert Altman: The Oral Biography (2009); Robert Altman: A Guide to References and Resources (1984); studies by G. Plecki (1985), H. Keyssar (1991), and D. O'Brien (1995).

Altman, Robert

(1925–  ) movie director; born in Kansas City, Mo. After serving in World War II as a pilot, he took up writing for radio and magazines and then produced industrial films. His first feature movie was The Delinquents (1957) and he went on to direct plays and series episodes for television. After two forgettable feature films, he gained instant recognition for M*A*S*H (1970) and went on to direct and/or produce a series of highly individualistic movies, noted especially for their simultaneous layers of dialogue. Impatient with Hollywood's conservative and commercial approach to moviemaking, he effectively moved to Europe, although he would return to America to make such movies as Nashville (1975) and The Player (1991).