American iconoclast

By Michael Roberts

 

"I am not an expert. That is someone else's job. If I were expert, the approach would be all wrong. It would be from the inside. I am a blunderer. I usually don't know what I am going into at the start. I go into the fog and trust something will be there."
~ Robert Altman

By the time of Altman's first smash hit he was a veteran of nearly 20 years in the industry, having gone to California to try his hand at screenwriting,  after spending WWII as a pilot, and eventually ending up as a TV director. A couple of undistinguished features led to him being low on a list of potential directors for Ring Lardner Jn's M*A*S*H,  and after most passed on the anarchic war comedy, he got his chance with a big budget feature. Its runaway success propelled him into the first rank of American cinema directors and he managed to carve a career that saw him exit and re-enter that stratosphere several times.

"Making a movie is like chipping away at a stone. You take a piece off here, you take a piece off there and when you’re finished, you have a sculpture. You know that there’s something in there, but you’re not sure exactly what it is until you find it.”
~ Robert Altman

The American New Wave, or American Renaissance era of movie brat dominated invention that reinvigorated American cinema and blew away the old Hollywood suited Altman's aesthetics perfectly and through the '70s he embodied that movement more than anyone, despite the fact he was old enough to be their father. Always at the cutting edge of his own artistic vision he created a body of work second to none, full of brilliant hits and interesting misses.

 

also recommended;

Short Cuts

M*A*S*H

3 Women

Gosford Park

Buffalo Bill and the Indians

For fans only;

Images

best avoided:

Pret A Porter