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Man Mitchell Zuckoff has woven together Altman's final interviews; an incredible cast of voices including Meryl Streep Warren Beatty Paul Newman among scores of others; and contemporary reviews and news accounts into a riveting tale of an extraordinary life. This is good I only read most of it but I really really liked it

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Robert Altman

Robert Altman visionary director hard partying hedonist eccentric family man Hollywood legend comes roaring to life in this rollicking oral biography After an all American boyhood in Kansas City a stint flying bombers in World War II and jobs ranging from d. Bob The minute I say what a movie I ve made is about I ve narrowed everyone else s view of it If I say what it means to me its range to some event is limited to the viewer from that point onPaul Newman He was an original Being an original means that you re standing out there on thin ice sometimes But at least he was out there skating while everybody else was waiting for cold weatherA If you were to die and come back as a persdon or thing what do you think it would beA I m immortalWhat can I come away with after reading this monumental story of a life like Altman s Well simply he was one of the most tenacious artists of the 20th century And somehow he was able to navigate a system and work consistently that by all accounts could have kicked him out in the late 1970s much less the 80 s when he was in the wilderness It is exhaustively detailed and the interviews are illuminating This is a man who was seen to be uncompromising and perhaps difficult but there were too many contradictions to pin him down so easily One page you may see a man who has a ferocious temper and to put it mildly not suffer fools kindly or even just someone who doesn t know their shit or a studio exec yeah definitely one of those The next you see someone who is like a big lovable bear of a man who was happy to make films and lived by the Kurosawa maxim It is wonderful to create It s fascinating for me on a film buff type level simply to understand just how long it took for him to get his big break while he did make a couple of low budget B movies in the mid 1950s he was mostly relegated to TV until 1968 and really made his commercial breakthrough at 44 with MASH I d think a lot of other directors might just be happy to stay a carpetbagger in TV not to mention a very different time when a TV director didn t or couldn t have much personality to bring to a piece of filmmaking But I didn t realize or haven t seen simply out of not seeking them out that on this early industrials and then the TV shows he was already developing his tastes and style and craft And he always thought he had it in him which is inspiring the confidence Altman had at the worst of times is what gets an artist through and for all of the uh you know drinking gambling etc family issues he was always plugging away And eventually it paid offAND YET I also didn t comprehend just how much he was able to how can I say it get away with in the 70 s MASH basically bought him 10 years in Hollywood including a five picture deal with FOX thanks to Alan Ladd Jr ironically the guy who stood up for George Lucas with Star Wars the kind of movie that heralded in the unkind to auteurs 1980s that Altman suffered through and none of those movies maded money indeed one of them HealtH isn t available on video so I ve not seen it and basically none of the movies he made after MASH until oddly enough Popeye made any money Yet he could get the stuff done he wanted he had some wild and unruly but amazing collaborations with a variety of writers and actors not least of which Warren Beatty Joan Tewksbury and Paul Newman and changed how a film could be made or really how it could be percieved to be made Follow the script to the letter Why Make something else up if YOU think it works better Often that led to magical moments of cinema Other times well I haven t watched uintent in a while And another irony that I found fascinating Popeye really his first major studio production in many years was seen as a failuredisappointment in the industry and managed to kind of blackball him for another decade with the exception of OC and Stiggs which frankly I might ve liked a little on that it was said he was unhappy making it and I can t imagine he EVER revisited it and yet he also said in one of those sweeping remarks I love all my films they re my children so did he love that little bastard OC and Stiggs too I dunno but the FOX films they didn t really hurt him as much The giant percieved not even really a failure costs it seems than the little money lossesI loved reading this book despite taking a while with it I think the early part his early years right before Countdown I put the book down for some dumb reason or another maybe because I was getting impatient with it Not a fault of the author who got the interviews but with myself really But once I got into the sections of Countdown and That Cold Day in the Park I devoured this in a week I love getting lots of insight into process but also how being prepared enough gets one to be open enough to let things anything happen and to be intuitive and trusting and loving yes loving enough of actors as creators to bring their work to the table At the same time it s also absorbing as a personal saga of how he stayed married for all those years to Kathryn and the very real and honest problems he had as a father or lack thereof as an artist who saw his art as paramount than his family Further along with this are tumultuous sections about an affair with Faye Dunaway who never appeared in his films fyi and the producer Scotty Bushnell who is or less a Bad Guy or Bad Woman in this story as the close producer Altman wouldn t let go also that she wouldn t leave So as an Altman fan before this was further illuminating but I d think if you re just getting into his work this has a great structure and just so many voices to keep one interested and keep one wanting to check out mostall of his works And what helps is there are other critical voices as well movie review excerpts for example but other random interviews and things like bits from DVD commentaries and archive interview bits so it s not all just Altman family or friends or actors or writers You come away from this understanding all the why he was important as a filmmaker groundbreaking the kind that can be tried to be repeated or mimicked but is hardimpossible to do but also how he was as a man and there s no easy way to pin him down on that He could be cruel a bastard but also kind and generous and warm He managed to not fuck up his career too bad on drugs drink seemed worse for him that pot and he stuck to his guns creatively and professionally I had no idea for example he turned down 5 million to direct MASH 2 as he was pissed off about the TV series but also how many other films he planned to make seuels of Ie Nashville 2 Short Cuts 2 and I agree when he refutes the whole Comeback notion from the 90 s since he had really never left A couple of other tidbits I m surprised the book didn t have maybe just a couple of sections or a page on the fact that Altman was on the top board of NORML which is the national weed organization Kind of a big deal I d think that he smoked enough and was enough of an advocate to reach that position or how that even happened Kevin Spacey is a fucking asshole and I hope he burns in hell even if I didn t know about EVERYTHING ELSE this book would make me think that Beyond Therapy has zero written about it Good it sucks The story behind making TANNER 88 I wish had a little detail personal preference but what is here is fascinating The 93 Oscars ceremony story was a hoot I d get baked too if I knew I d not be winning Yeah Go Clint

Mitchell Zuckoff ¿ 4 Read

Og tattoo entrepreneur to television director Robert Altman burst onto the scene in 1970 with MASH He reinvented American filmmaking and went on to produce such masterpieces as McCabe Mrs Miller Nashville The Player Short Cuts and Gosford Park In Robert Alt. Superb oral biography of a true American original I ll be honest before picking up this book I d only seen a handful of Altman s films but after only a couple of chapters I knew I d want to see of them soon I highly recommend the audiobook version which makes the oral biography aspect of the book come to life


10 thoughts on “Robert Altman

  1. says:

    Writing this oral biography of Robert Altman was an amazing achievement for my favorite nonfiction author Mitchell Zuckoff I have the book but I decided to listen to the audiobook and use the book for clarification and to see the photos Mitchell interviewed many actors who worked with Altman over the years along with relatives friends producers film critics etc The list was exhaustive He worked closely with Altman hims

  2. says:

    A very good book in terms of getting even insight into Altman the man Incidentally or not??? he was a serious weed smoker but now I know he toked into his old age Pot brownies at the Oscars

  3. says:

    Bob The minute I say what a movie I've made is about I've narrowed everyone else's view of it If I say what it means to me its range to some event is limited to the viewer from that point onPaul Newman He was an original Being an original means that you're standing out there on thin ice sometimes But at least he was out there skating while everybody else was waiting for cold weatherA If you were to die and come back as a persdon or thing w

  4. says:

    Superb oral biography of a true American original I'll be honest before picking up this book I'd only seen a handful of Altman's films but after only a couple of chapters I knew I'd want to see of them soon I highly recommend the audiobook version which makes the oral biography aspect of the book come to life

  5. says:

    I have a fondness for episodic backstories when it comes to film biographies I count among my favorites King Cohn by Bob Thomas and The Wit and Wisdom of Hollywood by Max Wilk This work has the same feel using interviews from family friends actors actresses and Altman himself to give us a glimpse of his journey

  6. says:

    A fascinating biography told appropriately in a chorus of voices eminently readable It's a fitting tribute to a brilliant director maybe the best America has produced

  7. says:

    This is good I only read most of it but I really really liked it

  8. says:

    A very good book written through the many voices of people who lived and worked with Altman The chronological approach works well the portrait that emerges is that of a conflicted man with the temperament of a rascal and the ability to direct actors in a new and generous way The choice of creating a complex multifaceted portrait through many sometimes contradictory points of view is great and does Altman justic

  9. says:

    Good series of recollections from friends and family of Robert Altman with commentary on the filmmaker's life and artistry This isn't the definitive biography Altman deserves or was planning at the time of his death but it does shed some light on certain important events and films focusing mainly on his attitude and style as a director as well as his generosity and compassion for working with actors The book glosses over a few fi

  10. says:

    Very interesting book very interesting life Well written well done