With Cookie's Fortune, ROBERT ALTMAN magnifies an extraordinary career, rare not only for its scope (film, television, theatre and opera), but also for its achievements (see appendix for nominations and awards)
With Cookie's Fortune, ROBERT ALTMAN
magnifies an extraordinary career, rare not only for its scope
(film, television, theatre and opera), but also for its achievements
(see appendix for nominations and awards).
Altman began his career making industrial and documentary films
at the Calvin Company in his native Kansas City. His first feature
film was the teenage gang drama, The Delinquents (1957),
followed by the documentary The James Dean Story. He then
worked for many years as a television director on such series
as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Millionaire, The Roaring
Twenties, Bonanza, Bus Stop, Combat and Kraft Suspense Theatre,
before making his next film, Nightmare in Chicago (1964),
the story of a serial killer's three-day rampage.
Following the taunt space drama Countdown (1968, with James
Caan and Robert Duvall) and the enigmatic thriller That Cold
Day in the Park (1969), Altman leapt to international acclaim
with his irreverent black comedy about surgeons in a Korean War
medical unit, M*A*S*H (1970). The film won Cannes' coveted
Palme D'Or, attained global box-office status, and established
Altman as a major American directorial talent.
Altman then directed the quirky fantasy Brewster McCloud
(1970), and his ground-breaking reinvention of the American
Western, McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971), bold for its revolutionary
overlapping dialogue, distinctive cinematography, a soundtrack
of Leonard Cohen songs, and a story that hinged on the building
of a frontier whorehouse. In the ensuing years, he has successfully
explored such diverse themes as pulp noir (inventively reworking
Raymond Chandler) in The Long Goodbye (1973); the depression-era
Thieves Like Us (1974); the male communion of gamblers
on a spree (California Split, 1974); and haunting explorations
of the interior life of women (Images and Three Women,
1972 and 1977, respectively).
Unpredictable yet versatile, Altman has directed unapologetic
biopics (1976's Buffalo Bill and the Indians, starring
Paul Newman as Wild West showman William F. Cody; and Vincent
and Theo (1990), the poignant tale of Van Gogh's relationship
with his brother); fictionalized history (Secret Honor,
1984, starring Phillip Baker Hall as a private and contemplative
Richard Nixon); a comedic observation on a May-December romance
(A Perfect Couple, 1979); comic book hyperbole (Popeye,
1980); and wry social exposes (Health, 1979).
With Nashville (1975), Altman would first experiment with
his cinematic talent for braiding the stories of large ensemble
casts; revisiting this unique craft in his voyeuristic observation
of nuptial guests (The Wedding, 1978), his film industry
satire The Player (1992), a biting vision of love and death
in L.A. (Short Cuts, 1993), and his haut couture farce,
Pret-A-Porter/Ready To Wear (1994).
During the 1980's, the lauded director successfully adapted several
stage works, including the filmed versions of Sam Shepard's celebrated
Fool For Love (1985) and Christopher Durang's farcical
Beyond Therapy (1987); and for television, Harold Pinter's
The Room (starring John Travolta and Tom Conti) and The
Dumbwaiter (starring Oscar winner Linda Hunt and Annie Lenox),
as well as Herman Wouk's The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial
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