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November 21, 2006

Robert Altman, RIP

Nuts. Robert Altman has passed away. I interviewed him once when I was full-time movie critic, and I'm here to tell you he's probably one of the smartest people I ever interviewed in the film industry, as well as disarmingly practical and modest about what he was doing with his films and his life. He was 81, so you can't exactly say he was taken too soon. You can say that the film industry is not likely to see a director like him again.

For those of you who don't know too much about him, a Wikipedia article. He'd be remembered for M*A*S*H* alone; that there was also McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Nashville, The Player and Gosford Park (among many others) is a hell of a bonus.

Posted by john at November 21, 2006 11:46 AM

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KevinQ | November 21, 2006 12:27 PM

That's really sad. I really enjoyed A Prairie Home Companion, and M*A*S*H is a classic. He will be missed.


Steve Buchheit | November 21, 2006 12:35 PM

Wow, there goes a whole pacel of vision. He kept working at what he loved, that's a good lesson for all of us.

Martin Wagner | November 21, 2006 12:35 PM

Yes, I also noted his passing. A damn shame. We've lost one of the great ones.

Tim Walker | November 21, 2006 12:57 PM

From all the interviews I ever saw with Altman, he impressed as one of those people I'd like to emulate when I (notionally) grow up: level-headed, self-deprecating, generous, and constantly seeking to do something new with his work. I was especially impressed by his Oscar speech, when he thanked the nameless young woman whose heart was transplanted into him years ago.

Chang who is inkredduloose! | November 21, 2006 01:22 PM

Oh, fuck.

I love Altman. Shit.

I'm gonna go get A Priarie Home Companion now and cry.

"The Player" was such a big film for me as was "Short Cuts." Both came out when I was in college and for various reasons impacted me immensely.

Also his film version of "O.C. & Stiggs" was critical in my youth. I think I can recite it word for word.

Oh, this is soo sad.

Thank You, Mr. Altman.

Jenny Rae Rappaport | November 21, 2006 01:41 PM

Oh that just sucks. I loved "Gosford Park".

PixelFish | November 21, 2006 02:26 PM

I saw that this morning...That's too bad. I'm sorry he's gone.

I love M*A*S*H and not just because Donald Sutherland was grade-A yumminess as Hawkeye.

I wanted to see the Prairie Home Companion, but somehow missed its theatrical run.

andrew | November 21, 2006 02:27 PM

Not a good week.

In the last seven days we have had the deaths of:

Ference Puskas*
Milton Friedman
Bo Schembechler
Robert Altman

While very different folks, these were giants in their respective fields. I mourn each of them in their own ways.


*For the non-soccer viewing folks, Ferenc Puskas was the great hungarian/spanish footballer who lead the Hungarian national team to the finals of the 1954 world cup. He also scored 4 goals for Real Madrid in the 1960 European Cup final.

joe | November 21, 2006 03:15 PM

In interviews, Altman always struck me as knowing exactly where he stood in his career, outsider-status and all. Prairie Home Companion had the sort of elegiac tone you'd expect from a fellow who knew he was reaching the end of his time. Almost like he knew.

John Scalzi | November 21, 2006 03:29 PM

Well, he was 81. I don't think he was under any illusions that he'd last for decades. Even so, it's sad.

Scott Mactavish | November 21, 2006 03:37 PM

'Bob' (as the cool LA kids call him) took great joy in playing 'the maverick' but was about as inside as you can get.

I never had the pleasure of working with him, but have many friends that did. And across the board, he was known as a good guy. That in itself is somewhat of a maverick trait given the egomaniacal traits of directors that demand (and receive) final cut.

Steve Brady | November 21, 2006 04:10 PM

He was 81, so you can't exactly say he was taken too soon.

Of course, he was still making good movies.

joe | November 21, 2006 05:13 PM

Ron over at GalleyCat discusses the book deal that Altman made with Jonathan Karp's new imprint just last month. Now that would've been a memoir worth reading.

Martyn Taylor | November 21, 2006 05:46 PM

This mourning thing is getting a bit much.

My Altman favourite is McCabe & Mrs Miller, for exactly the reasons why it wasn't a great commercial success.

Damn, we can't afford to keep losing people like him.

Scott Mactavish | November 21, 2006 07:03 PM

Damn, we can't afford to keep losing people like him.

Indeed. If John Sayles kicks the bucket, I'll have to get a job at the Quickie Mart.

Laurie Mann | November 21, 2006 07:51 PM

The Player is one of my favorite movies.

Even his lesser works like Popeye were fun.

His forray into SF...well, not so much fun.

Tom Becker | November 21, 2006 08:19 PM

Had to check the Altman story you did way back in 1992 for "The Player." Nice job. Altman was always a favorite interview for movie critics.

John Scalzi | November 21, 2006 08:23 PM

For everyone else, Tom Becker here was my editor at the Fresno Bee back when I was writing movie reviews. And also, since he was my first real pro editor, he had to put up with a lot of my juvenile crap. Basically, I owe him big.

Buck | November 21, 2006 09:54 PM

Whereas Renny Harlin (Exorcist: The Beginning, Deep Blue Sea, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Cutthroat Island, Cliffhanger, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane)still lives. And I'm supposed to believe that there is a higher power at work?

Actually, I think "Vincent and Theo" was one of my favorites.

MikeB | November 22, 2006 11:27 AM

My bad - posted the same link because I wasn't looking - (insert suitably embarassed emoticon)

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