Altman (2014) Movie Script

Let's begin again
Let's start over from the start
Let's forget the time that
you nearly broke my heart
Everywhere we've been again
Let's begin
Let's begin again
Let's forget about our pride
Pay attention to the way we feel inside
Let's give love a spin again
Let's begin
I equate films with sandcastles.
You get a bunch of mates
and you go down and say,
oh, let's build this great sandcastle.
And you build it.
And if the tide comes in in 20
minutes it's just smooth sand
and that structure you made
is in everybody's memory
and that's it.
What does it mean?
I grew up in Kansas City.
When I was 18 I became a ier
and I went overseas to the South Pacific.
I started writing letters
and I wrote a letter
to a cousin of mine who was a
woman who I didn't know really,
but she was the secretary
to Myron Selznick.
Who was one of the big agents,
David Selznick's brother.
And I'd written her this kind of funny,
cute letter and she wrote
me back and she said,
oh, Bobby, you wrote such a nice letter
you should be... you're a writer.
And I thought, well, yeah,
that's what I'll do.
When I got out of the air force
my dad was living in California.
He rented a house in
Malibu, up in the hills.
And so I move into my father's house.
A guy named George W. George
had the downstairs apartment.
I told him, I said, I'm a writer,
and he said, oh I'm gonna be a director.
We should do something together.
So we wrote a story and we sold it to RKO.
They wouldn't let me write the screenplay.
I said well can I come and
watch the film being made?
So I decided I'd be a playwright.
I wrote a play.
And I got in a car and I
was driving to New York
and I stopped in Kansas
City, which is my hometown.
And I ran in to a guy I had
known slightly in a bar
and he said what are you doing?
I said well I'm a film... film writer.
I'm writing screenplays
and I lied quite a bit.
I said I'm on my way to New York.
I'm doing my [ay-
What are you doing?
And he said I'm directing movies.
I said where?
He said well there's this place
here called the Calvin Company.
It's an industrial film place.
So I went over and I was introduced
and lied about what I had done
some more and they hired me.
Morning, Mr. Jones.
Morning Charlie.
You want me to fill 'er up today?
Yeah, and one more thing,
I'm in kind of a hurry
but I'd like to get an oil
change and a lube job.
My film school was working
in this industrial films.
I mean, I had to shoot, edit the films.
I learned all the tools.
When I was at the Calvin Company
a guy who's father owned a bunch of...
a chain of theatres in
the mid-west, in Roden,
wanted to make a movie.
And, uh, delinquents, a delinquents movie.
And that's what it was
called "The Delinquents".
So I wrote it in about three nights.
I stayed up all night
and wrote this script.
Golly, do we have to go in?
Well let's just go in for a little while.
If we don't like it we
can always leave, okay?
We made it for $65,000 and
it was really terrible.
Where you going?
But Hitchcock saw that film,
he was impressed with it.
So he called me in for a meeting
and he offered me a "Hitchcock Presents".
Mrs. Gould.
This is...
What do you think you're doing?
I'm going to call her and
tell her we're in love
and you're not going to stop me.
What number are you calling?
I did two of those.
So then I got an agent and they
got me this job on Whirlybirds.
Two boys robbed the store
and slit the owner.
Could be the same ones
who killed the old man
at the garage.
Could you intercept? Over.
We'll try, Greendale.
We shot them in two and a half days.
Every five days we would
shoot two episodes.
Tommy Thomson, who was my AD,
would pick me up in the morning
and I'd get in the car
and I'd drive out to...
way out in the valley in California
where we were shooting those things.
I'd say what are we doing today?
He'd say oh this is the thing,
and the two guys are doing this,
and there's a woman who's
cheating on her husband
and she's shot this guy, and
there's some baby chickens,
and they have all these
eggs that are gonna die
unless the helicopter gets
them and there's a dilemma.
Do they take the chickens?
Do they solve the murder?
And I'd say okay, I got it.
I was born and raised in California
and spent a lot of time at the beach.
One day a movie company put out a
call for girls who could swim.
So I tried out and ended
up getting the part.
I started getting work
and one day I got a call to
play a nurse on Whirlybirds.
The director was Robert Altman.
He looked a little hung-over.
When we were introduced
he didn't say hello,
he just said how are your morals?
And I said a little shaky, how are yours?
That was the beginning.
We went right into a fulltime relationship.
I never worked again after Whirlybirds.
He had already been married twice,
but those marriages didn't last very long
and he had three kids...
Christine, Michael, and Steven
from those earlier marriages.
And I had Konni from mine.
When they got married we moved
and my new school was having
this big father daughter dance
and I was so new and completely terrified.
Even though Bob and I didn't
know each other that well,
he came with me as my father.
He was so sweet about it.
He just wanted me to be happy.
Soon after we were married we had Bobby.
We bought a house, it was a great house
and we had lots and lots of parties.
Bob loved to throw a party.
I started in "Bonanza"
and "The Roaring 20's"
and a lot of those series.
And I became one of the
top television directors.
The more television he did
the more he realized all these
TV scripts he was given
were just the same old
thing over, and over.
By the time he was doing "Combat"
he tried to use his own
experience in the war
to make the show more true to life.
He did one episode where Vic
Morrow was shell-shocked,
but that got him into trouble.
That's my brother, my brother Joey.
And he's, he's dead.
It's all my fault.
Geeze is this guy out of it.
Walking down the road
carrying a dead German
and thinking it's his brother.
A man named Selig Seligman
produced that series
and he forbade me to make that.
He said I don't want you to do that.
Then he went out of town and...
and, uh,
I didn't have a decent script
to go in with and so we did it.
And when he saw it I was fired.
And to edit the show the
editor would come...
there was a bar there over there
on... on Washington Boulevard,
over by MGM.
I would go sit in the bar
and Vic Morrow would go to the editor
and then come and sit with me
and he says here's what he's doing.
I said well tell him do 'so
and so' and 'so and so'.
Then Vic would go back and...
And then that episode got
quite a bit of attention.
I think it won an Emmy.
He continued to push for more realism
in all of his shows, but the
producers wouldn't go for it.
In an episode of "Kraft Suspense Theater"
he wanted to cast the black
actor as a convict on the run.
And when the sponsor refused
the idea of a black character
he quit television and
bad-mouthed the sponsor.
I felt I had just done all
I could do in television,
and I felt I'd better leave.
What does Altmanesque mean?
Playing the long shot.
After burning his bridges in television,
Bob wanted to write and
direct his own films.
He thought that would give
him more creative freedom.
Around that time we adopted
Matthew and our family grew.
But we were running out of money.
When you have six children
and can't pay the milkman,
that's pretty bad.
It was our fifth anniversary and
he told me for our anniversary
we're flying to Las Vegas for the weekend,
so get ready.
I'm just going to run out to the racetrack
and I'll meet you at the airport at six.
Later, I found out he had
our last $200 in his pocket
and he'd bet it all on a
twenty-to-one long shot
and he won.
When we landed in Las Vegas he
went directly to the craps table
and won another $6000.
But if it had gone the other way
I might not be here to tell you this story.
My first film I did after
years of television
was a thing called "Countdown"
with Warner Brothers.
They sent it to me and I liked the story.
It was about going to the moon,
but Jack Warner was very
reluctant to hire me.
He thought I was a bit of a smartass.
He told me so.
I went up to his office and
sat there and he said listen,
everybody wants to put you on this picture
so I told them they can do what they want,
but I gotta tell you, you're gonna fail.
He says I don't like your work,
I don't think you get it
and I don't think you'll
do a good job on this.
But I'm going to let you do it and so.
I said well I hope I can prove you wrong.
Five, four, three, two, one, fire.
Lee, this is Chiz, do you read?
What's the story?
You'll be awhile.
Now listen, we believe that...
some arc... at the launch.
At the launch there was some arching
and you're losing electrical power.
There's no way to repair without
a risk of the retros firing
and sending you out of trajectory.
You'd never get back.
Jack Warner was out of town
and the last day of shooting he came back
and the phone rang and it was Bill Conrad.
It was the producer of this
little movie and he said listen,
don't come in Monday because Jack...
They won't let you in the studio.
Jack Warner called for your
dailies and he ran them,
Sunday and he's barred you from the lot.
And I said what do you mean
he's barred me from the lot?
I have the Directors Guild.
I get my first cut.
He says you can do any of
that legal stuff you want
and they'll let you do it, if
that's what you want to do.
But nobody's going to look at what you do
and it's all going to be changed.
He said, if you want to hear
what he said that fool,
meaning me, has actors
talking at the same time.
Two days more and we could
of had an unbeatable edge.
I know...
Those men should of been brought in...
I couldn't bring them all
in, they don't trust me.
Mr. Nogritty's calling from Washington.
I was just trying to get
the illusion of reality
and so I got fired from that
because of the overlapping dialogue.
Making your own rules.
Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau
speaking with church leaders today
said U.S. Conscientious
Objectors to the war in Vietnam
have his complete sympathy
and that Canada should be
a refuge for militarism.
Somehow Bob found backing
for an independent film
to be shot in Canada, "That
Cold Day in the Park".
He loved Canada and talked
about moving there.
He was mad at America
because of the Vietnam War.
Cut. Print that.
So I get the documents together
and was trying to sell the house,
but then lngo came into the picture.
Lngo Preminger was a talent agent
that had a script he wanted to produce.
Lngo thought Bob would be perfect for it
after he saw a short film that
Bob had made about smoking pot.
Everyone in town had turned it down,
but Bob saw something in that
script that noone else saw.
I talked to lngo Preminger for two hours
and I said if you want to make
the picture I want to make,
I'll do it.
Here's what I want. Here's what I see.
And he said okay, let's go.
Fox did not want it to be a Vietnam thing.
The war was still going on in Vietnam.
So they did not want to,
the studio did not want to come
out with that kind of picture.
I don't think I would of
gotten away with this,
except Fox at the time had two
other war films going on.
So they were concerned about
those and I was aware of that
and I said I've got to
go on the back lot there
and keep a low profile
and not draw attention.
Let nobody pay attention to me.
Elliott Gould.
How do you do?
This is???? who is the cameraman.
How are you?
You'll be playing what, Hawkeye?
We were a little minor film.
We didn't have any stars in it.
I went up to San Francisco.
There was a theater company up there,
one of those improvisational companies
and I hired most of them
as incidental players.
Yes sir.
Why don't you get ahold of Major Burns?
Tell him we're going to have
to hold a couple of surgeons
from the day shift onto the night shift.
To the surgeons,
we're sure gonna need them.
It was taking an ensemble cast
and doing it in a humorous way.
I think you will find these accommodating,
they're quite dry.
Don't you use olives?
Olives? Where the hell do
you think you are, man?
Dear God, protect our Supreme
Commander on the field.
Frank, were you on the
religious kick at home
or did you crack up over here?
I'm married, I'm happy, I love my wife.
If she was here I would be with her,
there is no question.
I wonder how a degenerated person like that
could have reached a
position of responsibility
in the army medical core.
He was drafted.
We had a script which
we used as a blueprint,
and as we would rehearse it would evolve.
If something occurred to
us that seemed to work,
we would do it.
Now when German starts coming
over here like he's hurt...
hey Scotty when he gets over to you,
we'll give you a spot and
you're going to say,
"For god sakes Gorman, this
is... get back in the game".
He says, "I've got the ball".
And then you say, "you've
got the ball, well run".
And then you say, "you've got
the ball, he's got the ball"!
Go, gm.!
What's the matter with you?
Get back in the game!
I've got the ball!
You've got the ball, well run!
Run! Run!
We were working for the laughs
and yet there was a reality to it.
People died.
Scorch, I need some more sponge clamps,
if you have them.
Give me some big hunks
of sponge or something.
We're all out of big sponges.
You'll have to use these for now.
Oh that's bleeding nice, oh,
that can't come out of there.
I can't stop that bleeding.
I can't really see,
It's like the Mississippi River down there.
I'm ready.
Nurse, you got a clamp, please?
Yes, yes sir.
Scratch my nose.
Just on... there.
There, a little harder please.
Scorch, I need some more sponge clamps,
if you have them.
Darryl Zanuck, who was the head of Fox,
was in Europe while this was being made.
He came back and we had a screening for him
and within this screening he
had come back from Europe
and he had two young European
girls that were friends of his.
And he... They came to the screening
and at the end of the screening
he said all that blood has to come out.
And I thought, oh, Christ, we're sunk.
And those girls said, oh Darryl,
that's the best part of it.
And they just supported that in such a way
that we were allowed to leave
them in for a preview.
And that audience went nuts.
And Zanuck said we're not
going to mess with this.
The picture was such a
hit it was phenomenal.
I mean, you know, with the war going on,
the timing worked.
Um, life, liberty, and
the pursuit of truth.
Now, we welcome the fifteenth
man asked to direct MASH,
Mr. Robert Altman.
My son wrote that song.
Your son wrote that song?
When he was fourteen, Suicide is Painless.
Now he's got too much money.
He's sixteen, living with a 20
year old girl in Venice and...
Do you get any kick now out of the fact
that you're a hot director
and there's all those years
that people wouldn't...
wouldn't expectorate on you?
Oh yeah.
How does it come out?
It's fun.
It's nice.
Bob became the hottest
director in Hollywood
and we built what I called our
movie star house in Malibu.
It was a new life for our family.
Everyone wanted Bob to do "MASH 2",
but Bob refused to repeat himself.
Instead he surprised everyone
by making a far out little film
called "Brewster McCloud".
It was an important time in the 70's
because this studio turned
filmmaking back to the artist
so I go to do a lot of stuff
that was certainly not the formula
that had existed before.
The McCabe script was given to
me right after I made "MASH".
The reason I like it was it was
the standard western genre.
We just twisted it a little bit.
McCabe and Mrs. Miller
is a beautiful pipe dream of a movie.
A eeting, almost diaphanous vision
of what frontier life might of been like.
It's not much like other westerns.
It's not really much like other movies.
The fact is that Altman is
dumping square conventions
that don't work anymore.
All those threadbare remnants
of the well-made play,
which American movies have clung to.
What this movie reveals is that
there's poetry in Robert Altman,
and he's able to put it on the screen.
The question is always asked...
why aren't there American
Bergmans and Fellinis?
Here is an American artist who
has made a beautiful film.
We were in Canada.
We went to Ireland.
Bob liked to shoot as far away
from the studios as possible
so he wouldn't have executives
looking over his shoulder.
I just stopped here because it's
a good wide place in the road
and I figured we can rendezvous here.
Also it looks like there's
bad weather over there.
I think we gotta go some place.
Well either direction here,
I thought while they're mounting the car
I'll drive up this way, drive up that way,
see where the weather is worse.
I got out of that damn car so
they could get it up the hill
and I said I would walk.
And they took it, so I ran
up that fucking hill.
You remember last night?
Now the kiss again.
That's when... just as long as
you do and lean right into it,
and that's when you respond,
'cause now you're going to trick him.
Yeah, that's it.
Stand by.
Hello, is your name Mrs. Altman?
Yes it is.
Oh, well I'd like to ask you a
few questions about filming.
Um, how did you meet your husband?
I met him in Hollywood
on a television series
called Whirlybirds.
He was directing it at the time.
And, uh, oh...
How do you like being
married to a film director?
Oh, find it very, very interesting.
Very unusual life and very
full of surprises day-by-day.
Yeah, and also I hear that
your children are making...
they're starting to like filming.
Yeah, they're getting very involved.
I may end up with four
little boy directors.
Bob was constantly innovating,
and in the 1970's
he developed a casual style
that was radically different
from Hollywood filmmaking at the time.
Mr. Marlowe the lights on your car are on.
Oh yeah, thanks a lot.
Excuse me I don't see any
Coury Brant cat food.
Some what?
Coury Brant cat food, it
happens to be the only...
Can you spell it for me please?
Yeah, Coury Brant, c-0-u-r...
Oh, we're all out.
Why don't you get this, Mr. All
this shit is the same anyway.
You don't happen to have a
cat by any chance, do you?
What do I need a cat for? I got a girl.
On 'The Long Goodbye' the
camera never stopped moving.
Dollying, zooming.
He wanted the action to be
caught as if by accident.
He hated things being mastered, two-shot,
hit your mark, say your line.
He wanted the feeling to be
natural and more relaxed,
Okay, Eileen,
what was Marty Augustine
doing here the other night?
How did you know?
I followed him here from my place.
He dropped by to have a word or two with me
and I was just curious to see
who else he wanted to talk to.
Oh, Roger owed him some money.
Maybe $10,000 or something.
He owes Marty?
You know what he told me Marty owed him.
We all heard what Dr. Verringer said.
He hates to part with money.
Yeah, what Dr. Verringer said.
I heard a lot of people
said that Terry Lennox
was working for Marty Augustine.
I don't believe it.
Yeah, well, that's what I heard.
Your husband ever talk about the Lennox's?
He ever talk about Sylvia Lennox.
Is your husband having an
affair with Sylvia Lennox?
Mr. Marlowe,
I don't wish to continue this
conversation about my husband.
Was your husband having an affair
with somebody you don't know
who just might of been Sylvia Lennox?
Definitely not.
Where was your husband the night
Sylvia Lennox was killed?
Bob's other big innovation was in sound.
The traditional way of recording sound
was to have a single boom mic
over the main actors heads.
But that didn't work very well
when you had a big ensemble cast.
God dammit, Denis!
That card went off the
table with the joker.
That's why you wouldn't give it up!
You are ridiculous.
You said it wasn't even close.
That's yesterday's news.
You are working together.
You're partners.
You two mother-fucking creeps...
Stop with all the language.
Anymore fighting you guys go out
of here for good, all right?
They've been consistent
winners and I'm a big loser.
You know I know how to play poker.
Oh sour grapes, honey, sour grapes.
All right, all right. Let's
get it back to normal.
Lousy punk.
You're not that good.
Oh up yours.
In "California Split" he
invented a way to use radio mics
and 8 track recorders
to simultaneously record each actor's lines
on separate channels so that he
could patrol them in the mix.
He wanted to give the audience the feeling
they were in a real place
and force them to choose which
conversation to listen to.
A dollar says you don't
know who Glenn Riggs is.
Uh, what's your name?
Vince, the name's Vince.
Vince, can you get me $30
from the cash register?
What do you want $30 for?
I need $30". In the bathroom.
Renee, I'm only the bartender
and I don't go in the cash register.
Where's Jack?
Jack went to a funeral.
Look, I've been working
here for one year, right?
Just give me a piece of
paper, chit $30 Renee.
Okay, just give it to me.
If I give you $30 and I come
up short, it'll be your ass.
Baby you were born short
and it's always my ass.
Captain midnight!!!
Now everyone records that
way, but he was the first.
His films just didn't look
or sound like anyone else's
and they still don't.
Doc. That's one.
Dopey. That's two.
Snoopy. There is no Snoopy.
There ain't no Snoopy.
Showing Americans who we are.
He was working on "Thieves Like Us"
in Mississippi, a beautiful little film
that Joan Tewkesbury wrote for him.
Joan had worked as a script
supervisor on "McCabe".
Bob, you know, would always discover talent
and give people opportunities.
Anyway, after she wrote "Thieves Like Us"
Bob asked her to go to Nashville
and keep a journal of what she saw.
Well, she landed at the
airport, got into a car
and the first thing she saw was
a car crash on the highway.
It kept her stuck for two hours
and that's how Bob opened the picture.
It was a multi-layered
story with characters
who crisscross each other
in the country music scene.
But Bob thought it lacked something.
Country music radiates
a love of this nation.
Country music therefore
has those combinations,
which are so essential
to America's character
at a time that America needs character.
At the time the whole water
Watergate thing was happening
and he hated Nixon, so he
added a political angle.
On the first Tuesday of November
we have to make some vital
decisions about our management.
Let me go directly to the point.
I'm for doing some replacement.
For mom and daddy.
Thank you.
Come on get up off your...
Wait a minute Mayor, watch your head.
Ya'll take it easy now.
This isn't Dallas it's Nashville.
This is Nashville.
You show them what we're made of.
They can't do this to us here in Nashville.
Somebody sing, sing.
Come on, I think you've been hurt.
Oh, oh.
Come on, easy, easy.
Oh man, I can't stop that blood, man.
Come on everybody sing.
It don't worry me
It don't worry me
You may say I ain't free,
you don't worry me
Don't worry me
It don't worry me
You may say, I agree, it don't worry me
It seems like so many of your films
have a tendency to explode
American myths and genres
and I just wondered, what's your
perception of American society?
She thinks, she says am
I exploding the myths
and are taking shots at
America and our culture.
Uh, I, if that's the result
of it that's what I,
that's the result of it.
But what I'm doing is simply
reflecting what I see and feel.
I live here, I was born
here, I love this country,
I love, uh, this is all I
know, it's my culture.
And, uh, I just try to show what I see.
If it's ugly, that's what I see.
Altmanesque what does it mean?
Creating a family.
By the mid 70's Bob was
riding his own wave.
He had gathered so many talented people
that he set up Lion's Gate,
a studio that would
produce independent films
to keep the people he cared about working
in between his own movies.
The first director he worked
with was Alan Rudolph.
Alan started with Bob back as the second AD
on "The Long Goodbye".
He co-wrote Buffalo Bill
and became a close friend.
And Lions Gate produced his
first film "Welcome to L.A.".
Bob's only instructions to Alan were
keep the budget low and
don't make a chase movie.
The way Bob did it, making films
was always collaborative.
His process was to bring
his friends together
and let the film evolve.
He encouraged everyone to contribute,
but for him the most important
thing was the actors.
I think the actors are the
main artistic element
in any film.
They're more important than the script.
They're more important
than the photography.
They're more important than the director
because they're the ones that do it.
So the more you can make
them your collaborator
then you're getting the best of all worlds.
I encourage actors to feel comfortable
and to know they can go further.
They can step over the edge
and I've got a safety net.
I won't let them make a fool of themselves.
I spent a lot of effort in
trying to make a family
so that the actors become a part of it.
Everybody comes to the
dailies, nobody's taking notes
and there's booze
and you find these actors
start rooting for each other.
Okay, let's go.
Your beautiful wife Antoinette
tells me that you are an art collector.
You certainly don't look
like an art collector.
You know if you're walking down the street
and somebody pointed you out and
asked me what I thought you did
and I didn't know you
I would never in a million
years guess art collector.
You could go on what's my
line and stump the panel.
I remembered we'd have these
big thanksgiving dinners
and dad made it a lot of fun for all of us.
But that and Christmas
were the only times we'd be
alone with him as a family.
Kathryn was always there for us,
but dad was always working.
For the most part, we
were not his priority.
His movies were his priority.
He loved us, but it was hard.
I did five films at Fox.
They were done almost
like independent films.
Alan Ladd was running the studio
then and he was very supportive.
He really stood up for
me and I owe him a lot.
Grace Kelly was involved in the studio.
And they had a board meeting
and she said how could you
let this Altman person
put my friend, Paul Newman,
in such a dreadful film.
And Ladd-y just said oh shut up, I quit.
And he got up and walked out
and that was the end of him over there.
"Quintet" came out, which
the critics hated.
And a week later "A Perfect
Couple" was released,
which the critics hated even more.
So he was having a pretty
bad run at the box office
and then came "health".
I never stepped into one of these things;
I hope there's a bottom.
Mr. Altman, I thought I'd
ask you a couple things
about the making of this film.
Uh the title is health...
I said the title is, the
title of the movie is health
and I was gonna ask you
if that's a particular
pre-occupation of yours
or just what they call a
property you were interested in?
No, I make lots of movies.
Uh huh and the whole subject
of health, of course,
involves a certain amount of controversy
because there are stories, exposes,
and so on about the food additives.
The sort of thing that
where things advertised
aren't what they claim to be and so on.
Will that be a point
that you'll be trying to take
satiric thrusts at in the movie?
Think you could talk about that a bit?
Uh, well, we don't have a script yet.
All right, action.
I'm having a sugar fit
By the time we completed health
there was a different management at Fox,
they believed it wouldn't make money.
We got in a little argument,
so the film was buried.
Expect the unexpected.
Robert Evans saw Annie on Broadway
and he wanted to do the movie version,
but he couldn't get the rights.
He found out that Paramount
owned "Popeye" the comic strip
and he decided to make a big budget musical
of "Popeye" instead.
After a lot of directors turned it down,
for some reason, Evans
sent the script to Bob.
I remember seeing the script on his desk
and saying to him Popeye?
It was Robin Williams' first movie
and Bob convinced the studio
to hire Shelley Duvall.
And Paul Dooley, who was in
six or seven of Bob's films.
He found the Pickle Family Circus,
who were all clowns and jugglers.
And Sweet Pea was played
by our grandson, Wesley.
Christine's son.
Wesley was born with
kind of a crooked smile.
One day, Dad noticed when Wesley smiled
he looked a lot like Popeye.
He said "See, this is
where the pipe goes in."
He was about 10 months old, he
hadn't even learned to walk yet,
and Bob had him cast as Sweetpea.
It was just one of those magical
moments in how he cast people.
Okay, everybody, stand by.
The production spent
millions building a village
into a barren hillside
and about 3 minutes into the
film things started to go wrong.
After losing 21 days of
shooting to bad weather,
going several million dollars over budget,
and the studio threatening
to pull the plug,
Bob wasn't even sure he
could finish the film.
Tonight in Hollywood, Paramount and Disney
unveil their highly anticipated
Christmas Blockbuster "Popeye",
and what a scene it was.
Good morning and welcome
to the critic's corner.
For years "Popeye"
has been one of my favorite
comic strip characters.
So, I and millions of others
have been looking forward
to the big Hollywood "Popeye"
movie with joyous anticipation.
The cast look perfect for the parts,
the writer was the estimable Jules Feifier
and the director was the imaginative,
though inconsistent, Robert Altman.
What could go wrong?
Well just about everything.
And the disappointing news this morning
is that "Popeye" is a debacle
with the characters left in ruins.
First of all, Feifier fails.
His script that shot is undistinguished
and it is without humour, but above all,
the culprit is Robert Altman
whose direction and editing are ponderous,
hesitant, and almost incoherent.
The members of this cast,
who almost seem born to play these rolls,
have been subverted by their director.
Paul Dooley who plays the
hamburger loving Wimpy
with such relish is giving nothing to do.
I mean nothing.
Zilch, zero, gornish, nada, zip.
Robin Williams has the
cartoon character down,
but much of his dialogue is unintelligible
and much of what is intelligible
is incomprehensible.
The songs by Harry Neilson are calamity.
His music is tuneless and
his lyrics are moronic.
Shelley Duvall is just wonderful,
thank goodness for Shelley Duvall.
Just think of this, for
years and years "Popeye"
has been chugalugging spinach
and when he finally gets
something to go with the spinach
it turns out to be a turkey.
The critics trashed it and
Bob took most of the blame.
It was nowhere near the blockbuster
the studios were hoping for.
The films that they want to make now,
the major companies, um, are not,
they're films that I don't want to make.
Also, I can't make.
I can't make "Superman", and
"Raiders of the Lost Arc"
and, uh, and I don't want to.
And the films I do want to
make and feel that I can make,
they don't want to make.
They want movies now that will...
there's a magic number that they
use, a hundred million dollars.
And, um, I just can't do that.
It's just the time to split, that's all
and by splitting I mean separate.
It was pretty rough, the
phone stopped ringing.
I said well where should I cut back,
or what should I do?
We can sell the house.
Move to New York.
He was pretty down.
He worried his luck had run out.
You ever bet $10,000 on a football game?
Oh yeah.
You have?
Do you win much?
I'm behind.
This has not been, the last
three years has not been good.
What does Altmanesque mean?
I would say it means never giving up.
The fact that Bob couldn't
get any movie deals
didn't stop him.
Pretty quickly he found something
he really wanted to do, live theater.
You know I still don't like
being touched or held?
When you extend your hand,
when you really give,
you lay your heart on the table
and hand someone else the hammer.
Now there might be some people
who feel this is somewhat of
a fall from grace for you
after directing major
films for so many years,
to direct a couple of small plays.
Not saying they're not good plays,
but small plays in a small theater,
off Broadway so to speak.
Well I think it's a step up.
I did four or five theater pieces.
And when I'd do one I'd say
oh, let's do another one.
So, to me, that was a very important,
big time, "I" time in my life.
I was experimenting.
I went to the University of Michigan.
I had done an opera there
a couple years before
and I didn't have the
money to produce a film,
but I came up with a scheme
of making it a course.
And so all of the crew,
except for a couple of us, were students
and they got a credit for doing this.
Yeah, let's just take this, open
it up from where he gets up
and walks out of the frame on the set.
Start on the monitors.
Now, when he gets up to leave
make your pan to the door.
My little dog, Checkers, he... PFT.
No, mother.
I did not elect myself,
they elected me not once,
not twice, but all of my goddamn life,
and they would do it again
to, if they had the chance.
Oh, sure, they said they didn't trust me.
They said let Dick Nixon
do it and I did it.
They said they wouldn't
buy a used car from me,
but they gave me the biggest
vote in American history.
And they ushed me down the toilet
and they wanted me to stay down.
They wanted me to kill myself.
Well, I won't do it.
If they want me dead,
they'll have to do it.
Fuck them! Fuck them!
Fuck them! Fuck them!
Fuck them!
I never met Richard Nixon in my life,
but I did have a couple
of exchanges with him
more than once.
He wrote a book called "Leaders",
which was a really big book.
And I was living in California at the time
and in the mail this
book, heavy book, comes.
And it was from the Ex-President
and it was inscribed in there,
it says to Robert Altman,
thank you for your years of loyal support.
And I thought, shit, I gotta burn a book.
And I really had a dilemma.
I could of torn out that page,
which ultimately I did
because I didn't want it
to be found in my archives
by one of my great
grandchildren and they say oh,
grand daddy was a big Nixon supporter.
After "Secret Honour" we sold the house
and moved to Paris.
He felt appreciated there, as
so many American Artists do.
Bob, remember that shower scene in MASH
where you made me get naked?
You get naked.
For a while now, dad had been hiring me
and my brother, Bobby, to work with him.
I started out in props
and eventually became his
production designer.
This is our ace prop man, Steve Altman.
Steve, do you have anything
to say about the production?
Hi mom.
And Bobby became his camera operator.
Working with him, it was good, I
got to see him and I got paid.
Working out of Paris he shot anywhere
he could get a deal.
Mostly small films, financed
with European money
or by the new U.S. cable channels
who gave him total freedom.
Come on right around here
and just fill in here,
make this pretty.
Give me as many people
on this side as I can.
Michael, Cynthia.
Tighten on in, everybody.
You got enough oor ground;
We will need some people now over here.
Kathy, come on up in here everybody.
We need people in here, around this area.
Okay stand by please.
Okay, action Michael.
Let there be no mistake about it,
as the people of conscience, we cannot,
we must not settle for anything
less than a comprehensive,
global boycott of South Africa.
Michael, that was terrific, I
just want to do one more please.
HBO wanted to do something
about the election.
So Garry Trudeau and I said
let's just run a guy for
President, so we did.
We took Michael Murphy,
who played Jack Tanner,
and we created a staff
and we infiltrated them
in to actual situations.
Pat, how are ya?
Nice to see you.
This is my daughter, Alex.
How are you?
Good, how are you?
Sure stirring them up in my home state.
Well Michigan is a strong one for me,
you know that Jack.
I'll say it made me glad to be a democrat;
I wouldn't want to be up against you.
Well the Republicans are
going to be tough this year
but we wish you the best.
Looking tougher all the time.
Let's go over the ground rules now.
The panel will give direct questions
to specific candidates.
What we're doing is, we
don't know what to call it
because it's not a documentary,
it's not fictional,
um, I call it experimental television.
We must stop the flow of
drugs in this country.
The number one threat on the
streets of our nation today.
Our borders are militarily inferior
in terms of being protected
from drugs trafficking...
Jesse... Jesse... As you may recall,
it was former President Nixon
who started the war on drugs,
the same former President Nixon
who couldn't seal off South
Vietnam from North Vietnam
with 500,000 troops.
America's tired of being
dragged into wars it can't win
and a war on drugs is a loser.
And any law that makes 25
million Americans criminals
is a loser.
It's time to get real.
The only way to get drugs off our streets
is through legalization.
He said it, he said it.
Did he say legalization?
There goes the street value of my stash.
I think the people, with all do respect,
are more than ready to
elect a black President,
I just don't think they're ready for you.
What did they put in his
oatmeal this morning?
This is going ballistic.
Okay, what kind of spin do we put on that?
"Tanner '88" I think is probably
the best work that I've done,
I think it's the most inventive.
Because we really did change television.
This is WNBC New York, I'm Larry Stack
and here's what's happening at 2 o'clock.
President Bush proposed to add
an additional 1.2 billion
dollars to the budget
for the war on drugs
including a 50% increase
in military spending.
You've moved back to America
after being based in Paris.
Do you think you've changed?
I don't think I've changed.
I think I just keep doing the same thing
and occasionally what I do
crosses with the general
attitude of the public
and it becomes very successful
and then I'm a failure,
and a has been, and then
I cross back again.
But I'm going straight... to me
I'm going in a straight line.
Everybody else is just going like this.
Kicking Hollywood's ass.
Most of the scripts that they
send me are studio scripts.
I mean, I'd be embarrassed
to be associated with them.
I don't think there's anything I could do
other than radically change them,
which these people don't want.
I make gloves and they sell shoes.
David Brown, the producer, told Bob
that he had a project that
Bob was born to direct
because it struck at everything
that was wrong with Hollywood.
And it was true, nobody but Bob
could of pulled off "The Player"
the way he did.
It gave him the chance to
crucify forever Hollywood's
entire way of making movies.
Griffin, Griffin hi.
Griffin hi.
A-A-Adam Simon.
I know we're not supposed to
meet until next week but...
I didn't realize we were meeting next week.
Well, yeah, I just wanted to
plant a seed in your head...
Sorry, I'm booked up,
Okay, but just picture this.
Okay, it's a planet in the
far future with two suns.
Who plays the sons?
No-no-no, suns, large solar disks.
Listen, you gotta run this
idea by Bonnie Sherow.
The pictures they make these
days are all MTV, cut cut cut.
The opening shot of Welles' "Touch of Evil"
was six and a half minutes long.
Six and a half minutes, Walter?
Well three or four anyways,
he set up that whole picture
with one tracking shot.
"The Graduate" Part ll.
Oh good, good.
Now listen, the three
principles are still with us...
Dustin Hoffman, Anne
Bancroft, Katharine Ross.
Twenty-five years later and
so are the characters.
Ben, Elaine and Mrs. Robinson.
Ben and Elaine are married, still.
They live in a big, old, spooky house
up in northern California somewhere.
And Mrs. Robinson lives with them.
Her aging mother, who's had a stroke...
Mrs. Robinson had a stroke?
Mrs. Robinson had a stroke,
so she can't talk.
Is this going to be funny?
Yeah, it'll be funny.
With a stroke?
Dark, and weird, and
funny, and with a stroke.
It's a T.V. star and she goes
to the safari, to Africa.
Are you talking about a T.V.
star in a motion picture?
No, not a real T.V. star.
It would be played by a movie star.
A movie star playing a television star.
Julia Roberts would be good.
Dolly Parton would be good.
Dolly, Dolly, yeah.
I like Goldie.
Goldie, great, because
we have a relationship.
Goldie goes to Africa.
Goldie goes to Africa.
And she becomes worshipped.
Political doesn't scare me.
Radical political scares me.
Political political scares me.
This is politely politically radical.
Is it funny?
It's funny.
It's a funny political thing.
It's a funny, and it's a thriller too.
It's a thriller.
It's all at once.
So, uh, what's the story?
Well I want Bruce Willis.
I think I can talk to him.
It's a story about a senator,
a bad-guy senator at first.
And he's travelling around the
country on the country's dime,
you know, uh, like that Sununu guy used to.
It's sort of a cynical,
political, thriller comedy.
Yeah, but it's got a heart,
uh, in the right spot
and anyways he has an accident.
An accident?
Yeah, and he becomes
clairvoyant, like a psychic.
Oh, I see.
So it's kind of a psychic,
political, thriller, comedy
with a heart.
With a heart,
and not unlike Ghost meets
Manchurian Candidate.
Go on, go on, I'm listening.
Anyway, he can start to read people's minds
and when he gets to the president's mind
it's completely blank.
Mr. Altman, is "The Player"
your revenge against Hollywood?
No, it's a very, very mild indictment.
Things aren't really like
that, they're much worse.
Mr. Altman, I have to ask you,
do you think Hollywood has
lost its' objectivity?
No, I think that Hollywood
has always maintained its' objectivity,
which is greed and making
as much money as it can
and trying to get rid of all the artists.
Of course they can't succeed in that,
so since they can't really get rid of us
we just keep popping up and going along.
And now we have the presentation
of the Palme D'or for Best Director.
The Palme D'or for Best
Director goes to Robert Altman
for "The Player".
"The Player" Robert Altman!
Thank you.
"The Player" was a huge hit in Cannes.
Everyone wanted to meet with him
and he finally found backers for a film
he had been wanting to do for years.
In "Short Cuts" Bob took a collection
of Raymond Carver's short stories
and adapted them into one
multi-layered story.
I think Bob connected with Carver's stories
because they were about the
lives of ordinary people.
The frailness of human behavior.
The randomness of things
that happen in life.
It's coming.
I know, I know, come here.
Okay, look, look it.
What's happening Howard?
We have to get under the table.
Gene, earthquake!
Get under the door, come on!
Get underneath the door!
This is Officer Gene Shepard
of the Los Angeles Police Department.
We are currently
experiencing an earthquake.
On Broadway I danced
For that Senator
They know me in London J
They know me in Paris
This is bigger than the one in '71.
Don't worry. Don't worry.
It's not the big one.
Mommy, get over here, quick!
Get down.
Just lay down, Mommy.
Just lay down.
This is it, baby! We're going out together.
This is the big one, baby.
Wasn't the big one.
If we were able to explain
any of these characters
it's the very fact that
things happen to them
and they are inexplicable
because I think that's more truthful
to the way life really is.
Altmanesque, what does it mean?
How vulnerable we are.
Talking with Robert Altman.
Well what's left of you from
the success of your diet?
Thank you.
I'm glad that you mentioned
that, people think I'm sick.
He's ill, he's lost weight.
I've lost about 35 pounds and I'm,
I got about a few more to go.
I just figured it'll add
some longevity to the...
I see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The doctor said you have an enlarged heart.
You shouldn't do this or that
and you shouldn't drink.
But it never stopped him
from doing anything.
I heard him yelling,
he's like, I think we have a problem here.
So I ran downstairs and he
couldn't remember my name.
I called the doctor and as I
was helping him get dressed,
he looks up at me and
says Konni if this is it,
it's been great.
It was a micro stroke.
He gave up drinking, that was hard.
He says the only thing I miss
about drinking is the alcohol.
He was great.
He was still fun and
funny, but he was thin.
Pret-a-Porter was difficult.
That he managed to make that
movie was an accomplishment,
but he kept on working.
Start the music and we're
bringing them through.
As soon as... As soon as these
kids who are going through
get right under here, as soon
as you lose sight of them
you're going to move on over.
"Kansas City" came out of his
memories of growing up there.
Especially of jazz music, which he loved.
But he barely made it through that film.
It was his heart, it was giving out.
The doctor said I think
you need a transplant.
And Bob said what are the odds?
He rested for a whole year.
Learning how to live with a new heart
and handle possible rejection,
and medication and a whole regimen.
I kept it quiet
because I was afraid nobody would hire me,
because there's such a stigma to it.
By his 71st birthday he looked terrific.
He was really with it and
excited to get back to work.
I love what I do.
I love the actors and what they do.
And it's just such a delight
to sit there and watch
people create something
and know that you're a part of it.
It's just... I don't ever want to stop it.
Masterful storytelling.
All right, well, what do you want to do?
Should we just shoot one
and see how bad it is?
Let's shoot one.
I mean, see how good it is.
Let's waste film.
I have a lot of stock in Eastman.
All right, let's do it.
Action servants.
"Gosford Park" was one
of Bob's masterpieces,
but it almost never got made.
We couldn't line up the financing.
It just kept falling apart.
What scared the investors
were the exact things he loved about it.
Big ensemble cast, unresolved ending.
One guy said he'd finance the film
if Bob would rewrite the ending
to make it a traditional
murder-mystery, but Bob refused.
With zero funding and no investors
he called up every A-List actor in London
and said we're making this movie.
They were like absolutely
I'd love to work with you.
We were close to shooting, the
producers are freaking out
and Bob is totally cool,
like he knows everything
is going to work out.
And then we got the call.
The British Lottery fund
agreed to back the film.
He won the lottery.
Mr. Weisman?
Mmhmm, yes.
Tell us about the film
you're going to make.
Oh, sure.
It's called "Charlie Chan in
London", it's a detective story.
Set in London?
Well, not really, most of it
takes place at a shooting party
in a country house, sort of
like this one, actually.
A murder in the middle of the night,
a lot of guests for the
weekend, everyone's a suspect.
You know? That sort of thing.
How horrid.
And who turns out to have done it?
I couldn't tell you that.
It would spoil it for you.
Yeah, but none of us will see it.
Isabelle? Isabelle?!
Robert Altman's film "Gosford Park"
is a virtuoso ensemble piece
to rival the director's
Nashville and Short Cuts,
that's masterly interweaving
of multiple characters
and subplots.
It is a contemporary equivalent
of Jean Renoir's classic
"Rules of the Game".
What makes the achievement
of "Gosford Park"
all the more remarkable is that Mr.
Altman is 76.
But the movie's cool assessment
of the human condition
implies the dispassionate overview of a man
who has seen it all.
The energy that crackles from the screen
suggests the clear sighted joie DE vivre
of an artist still deeply
engaged in the world.
I had done six... seven films
and I was so smug and proud of myself
because I thought none of these
films are alike and then,
ten... twelve films more.
I look at these things and I think,
hmmm, these really are all just
chapters of the same book.
They're just different chapters.
With "A Prairie Home Companion"
Bob was doing two things.
Returning to his youth when
he absolutely loved radio
and contemplating death.
He was joining both ends of the circle.
What are we doing?
You're on in the power milk segment
doing gold watch and chain with him.
We haven't done that for years.
Oh I'll pawn you my gold
watch and chain, love
And I'll pawn you my gold wedding ring
Excuse me;
I gotta get a head start on
getting pie eyed tonight.
I will pawn you this heart in my bosom J
Only say that you'll love me again
How about Red River Valley?
Fine, whatever you like.
Well this really isn't going
to be your last show, is it?
Every show's your last show.
Oh my god.
That's my philosophy.
Thank you, Plato.
Come and sit by my side if you love me
Do not hasten to bid me adieu
But remember the Red River Valley
And the one who has loved you
A lot of people are
wondering what you meant
with the end of the film when
the angel goes into the diner
and a lot of people go back and
forth about what it means,
what she was there for.
Well I felt it was about leaving
it open who was gonna die next.
Obviously, this film is
about death and, uh...
She was the angel of death and
she showed up for one of them
and um,
we just closed the film
before we told you which one.
Sort of like real life.
Death is the only ending that I know about.
People will come in and say oh,
does this have a happy ending?
And I say well, no.
But we can make a happy stopping place.
Right now, I'd like to toast you all,
Happy Thanksgiving.
Happy Thanksgiving!
And it's a turkey that has never
been genetically encoded.
Big Family gathering here tonight
and makes me very weepy.
He became very enamored of his family
in the last few years of his life.
We would have these get togethers
and I would catch him sitting in the corner
just looking at everybody
with that grin on his face.
It was like one of his movies.
Like he became aware that
he was in his own movie.
And he loved the cast.
What does it mean to you?
It's inspiration.
Live from Hollywood it's the
78th Annual Academy Awards.
Maverick filmmaker Robert Altman
has been nominated five times for an Oscar
without ever winning one.
Today, the Academy of Motion
Picture Arts and Sciences
is giving Altman a
lifetime achievement award
in recognition of a career
that has repeatedly reinvented the art form
and inspired filmmakers
and audiences alike.
Thank you.
No other filmmaker has gotten
a better shake than I have.
I'm very fortunate in my career.
I've never had to direct
a film I didn't choose.
I love filmmaking.
It has given me an entree to the
world and to the human condition
and for that I'm forever grateful.
Finally, I would like to thank my family,
which are all right there.
All of them.
For their love and support
through the years
and most importantly
I want to thank and applaud
my wife Kathryn Reed Altman,
without whom I wouldn't be here today.
I love you.
Thank you.
Oh, one more thing.
I'm here, I think, under false pretenses
and I think I have to
become straight with you,
uh, ten years ago... 11 years
ago I had a heart transplant.
A total heart transplant.
I got the heart of, I think,
a young woman who was
about in her late 30's.
And so by that kind of calculation,
you may be giving me this award too early
because I think I got about
40 years left on it.
And I intend to use it.
Thank you very much.
He was in preproduction on a film called.
"Hands on a Hard Body", scouting locations.
He'd been diagnosed with cancer
and he wanted to keep on working.
Chemo or no chemo.
It would have been his 40th movie.
One day, years and years
ago, just after the war,
Bob had nothing to do and
he went to a theater
in the middle of the
afternoon to see a movie.
Not a Hollywood movie, a British movie.
He said the main character
was not glamorous.
Not a babe, and at first he wondered
why he was even watching it.
But twenty minutes later he was in tears
and had fallen in love with her.
And it made him feel that
it wasn't just a movie.
Let's begin again
Let's start over from the start
Let's forget the time that
you nearly broke my heart
Everywhere we've been again
Let's begin
Let's begin again; Let's
forget about our pride
Pay attention to the way we feel inside
Let's give love a spin again
Let's begin
We gave love a chance one time
We gave up before
For love had really taken hold
So, please let's try once more
And begin again
This time try to make it last J
Let's begin again
Without worry of the past
Let's go through thick and thin again
And begin
We gave love a chance one time
We gave up before
Before love had really taken hold
Please let's try once more
Let's begin again
This time try to make it last J
Let's begin again
With no worry of the past
Let's go through thick and thin again
Let's begin