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COOKIE'S FORTUNE

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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