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Robert Altman

Robert Altman

Birthday: 20 February 1925, Kansas City, Missouri, USA
Birth Name: Robert Bernard Altman
Height: 183 cm

Robert Altman was born on February 20th, 1925 in Kansas City, Missouri, to B.C. (an insurance salesman) and Helen Altman. He entered St. Peters Catholic school at the age six, and spent a short time a ...Show more

Robert Altman
I learned a lot about losing from my father. That losing is an identity; that you can be a good lose Show more I learned a lot about losing from my father. That losing is an identity; that you can be a good loser and a bad winner; that none of it - gambling, money, winning, or losing - has any real value. Hide
[observation, 1986] It's very hard to find anyone with any decency in the business. They all hide be Show more [observation, 1986] It's very hard to find anyone with any decency in the business. They all hide behind the corporate structure. They're like landlords who kick people out of tenement buildings. There's no compassion and there's certainly no interest in the arts. Hide
[on Julie Christie] Julie doesn't like being a movie star. All she wants is to act. If she had her w Show more [on Julie Christie] Julie doesn't like being a movie star. All she wants is to act. If she had her way, she'd like a nice role to play in a film that doesn't require a lot of recognition. Hide
[La règle du jeu (1939)] taught me the rules of the game. [La règle du jeu (1939)] taught me the rules of the game.
[interview in the London Times, 1/22/02] When I see an American flag flying, it's a joke. [interview in the London Times, 1/22/02] When I see an American flag flying, it's a joke.
I fiddle in the corner where they throw the coins. Where I can get my work done. I fiddle in the corner where they throw the coins. Where I can get my work done.
Retirement? You're talking about death, right? Retirement? You're talking about death, right?
We make too much of the good and too much of the bad. We make too much of the good and too much of the bad.
I'll give you the same advice I give my children: Never take advice from anybody. I'll give you the same advice I give my children: Never take advice from anybody.
Anybody who gives you advice is giving you what they think is correct for them if they were in your Show more Anybody who gives you advice is giving you what they think is correct for them if they were in your position. But they're not you! And you're not them. You can listen to these things, but I advise that you don't take advice from anybody. Hide
What I'm looking for is occurrence, truthful human behavior. We've got a kind of road map, and we're Show more What I'm looking for is occurrence, truthful human behavior. We've got a kind of road map, and we're making it up as we travel along. Hide
[on Titanic (1997)] The most dreadful piece of work I've ever seen in my entire life. [on Titanic (1997)] The most dreadful piece of work I've ever seen in my entire life.
I probably am a lazy artist and probably don't control things as much as some people would like- but Show more I probably am a lazy artist and probably don't control things as much as some people would like- but that's my business. And if my style is too loose or improvised for some people's taste, that's their problem- totally. The fact is, I'm not the greatest Hollywood director and that bullshit, but I'm not the opposite either. And I am not careless. I may be irresponsible, I may strive for things and not always succeed. but that's never the result of sloppiness. Maybe it's lack of judgment. Hide
[on Sissy Spacek] She's remarkable, one of the top actresses I've worked with. Her resources are lik Show more [on Sissy Spacek] She's remarkable, one of the top actresses I've worked with. Her resources are like a deep well. Hide
[about his relationship with mainstream Hollywood] We're not against each other. They sell shoes and Show more [about his relationship with mainstream Hollywood] We're not against each other. They sell shoes and I make gloves. Hide
The worst trap you can fall in is to start imitating yourself. The worst trap you can fall in is to start imitating yourself.
Wisdom and love have nothing to do with one another. Wisdom is staying alive, survival. You're wise Show more Wisdom and love have nothing to do with one another. Wisdom is staying alive, survival. You're wise if you don't stick your finger in the light plug. Love - you'll stick your finger in anything. Hide
[at the Coolidge Award ceremony in 2006 for Meryl Streep] I was redundant! Meryl Streep doesn't need Show more [at the Coolidge Award ceremony in 2006 for Meryl Streep] I was redundant! Meryl Streep doesn't need a director. She's kind to them; she's really nice. She'll compliment you, and say, "That was good - what you did." I was so happy the next day to get on the stage with a lot of other actors. I didn't have to be just . . . whelmed by Miss Streep. Anyway, Meryl - I'll get over this. In spite of the personal sadness I got from working with you, I'm glad I did. Hide
This [MASH (1970)] didn't get released by Fox, it escaped. This [MASH (1970)] didn't get released by Fox, it escaped.
All of my films deal with the same thing: striving, socially and culturally, to stay alive. And once Show more All of my films deal with the same thing: striving, socially and culturally, to stay alive. And once any system succeeds, it becomes its own worst enemy. The good things we create soon create bad things. So nothing is ever going to be Utopian, and when I make films like Nashville (1975) and [Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson (1976)], it's not to say we're the worst country in the world, or God, what awful people these are. I'm just saying we're at this point and it's sad. Hide
When John Lennon got assassinated, I get a call immediately from the Washington Post and they said, Show more When John Lennon got assassinated, I get a call immediately from the Washington Post and they said, "Do you feel responsible for this?" and I said "What do you mean, responsible?" "Well, I mean you're the one that predicted there would be a political assassination of a star." And I said "Well, I don't feel responsible," but I said, "but don't you feel responsible for not heeding my warning?" The statement here is, these people are not assassinated because of their ideas or what they do. They're assassinated to draw attention to the assassin. And in political assassinations, in their sort of warped minds, they know that they are going to have a certain amount of people who said "that son of a bitch [the politician] should have been shot," because there's such heat about it. But actually what they are doing is killing somebody who's in the public eye and is some sort of an icon. Because this feeling that by, doing that, committing that assassination they draw the attention to them self, and they make themselves consequently important. Ah, and it's no surprise to me, the Lennon assassination, because this is what all that is, and I don't think we have seen the end of it either. Hide
[on American Beauty (1999)] So badly acted and directed. [on American Beauty (1999)] So badly acted and directed.
People talk about my signature. But I ask them if they ever saw Howard Hawks' films. They're filled Show more People talk about my signature. But I ask them if they ever saw Howard Hawks' films. They're filled with overlapping dialog. Everything I've learned has come from watching other directors: Bergman [Ingmar Bergman, Fellini [Federico Fellini], Kurosawa [Akira Kurosawa], Huston [John Huston] and Renoir [Jean Renoir]. Hide
The actors have to know the play because they have to memorize the words. The technicians have to kn Show more The actors have to know the play because they have to memorize the words. The technicians have to know the play because they have to organize the sound and light cues. But I want to keep myself as virginal as I can. I say, "Tell me what this play is about." I'll find out as I do it and I'm really looking forward to seeing it. I don't advise young directors that this is what they should do. This is simply my method. Hide
We're in a position in our culture right now, where most of the things we learn are from films and t Show more We're in a position in our culture right now, where most of the things we learn are from films and television. And maybe I'm trying to say, 'Wait a minute, that's not necessarily true, there's another side to it...' Hide
I didn't mind military school; I kind of liked it. I thought it was a nice little adventure. I didn't mind military school; I kind of liked it. I thought it was a nice little adventure.
Jazz has endured because it doesn't have a beginning or an ending. It's a moment. Jazz has endured because it doesn't have a beginning or an ending. It's a moment.
[on working with Warren Beatty on McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)] Warren and I don't like each othe Show more [on working with Warren Beatty on McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)] Warren and I don't like each other very much. I think he's certainly a good actor. He was great in the movie. But I wouldn't go through that again. It's no fun. Hide
Mr. and Mrs. Smith get married, they have problems, they get back together and they live happily eve Show more Mr. and Mrs. Smith get married, they have problems, they get back together and they live happily ever after. End of the movie. Two weeks later, he kills her, grinds her body up, feeds it to his girlfriend who dies of ptomaine poisoning, and her husband is prosecuted and sent to the electric chair for it--but here's our own little story with the happy ending. What is an ending? There's no such thing. Death is the only ending. Hide
[on Elliott Gould] He knows exactly what he wants and how to get it. [on Elliott Gould] He knows exactly what he wants and how to get it.
What is a cult? It just means not enough people to make a minority. What is a cult? It just means not enough people to make a minority.
[on his film The Gingerbread Man (1998)] Well, it's criminal, their treatment of that film. There wa Show more [on his film The Gingerbread Man (1998)] Well, it's criminal, their treatment of that film. There was a vindictive order from the guy who was running [Polygram Films], he was so pissed off with me, he literally told them, "I want that movie killed". We're talking to lawyers, but it's almost impossible to win a lawsuit. You can't prove what a film could have done. They were just pissed off because it didn't test the way they wanted it to with the teenagers, y'know, in those malls. Hide
Every ad for every film is exactly the same. Every ad for every film is exactly the same.
I've about had it - the agencies, the winking, the networks, the ratings. Anyone who thinks TV is an Show more I've about had it - the agencies, the winking, the networks, the ratings. Anyone who thinks TV is an art medium is crazy - it's an advertising medium. Hide
And when I look around America today I feel we're oversaturated with goods. Like most of western Chr Show more And when I look around America today I feel we're oversaturated with goods. Like most of western Christian civilization, we feel it's fine if we're comfortable and, if the rest of the world isn't, then that's their problem. We're not generous. And the idea of paying some chief executive $40 million a year is just obscene. I don't deny it's nice to have silk sheets or whatever, but we live in a deeply unequal society and our luxury is both excessive and wasteful. Hide
The business is run by accountants who, as long as a film makes $40 billion, don't care if it kills Show more The business is run by accountants who, as long as a film makes $40 billion, don't care if it kills the industry. Everything can also be shown so quickly in the home - which means that the people who go to movie theaters are teenagers who just want to get away from home. The audience has changed and the content has changed to suit that audience. But, even if I'll be an outdated item very shortly, I intend to carry on as long as I can. Hide
I don't storyboard anything. I go on a set in the morning and, unless a scene requires a lot of prop Show more I don't storyboard anything. I go on a set in the morning and, unless a scene requires a lot of props, I won't even tell the crew what I'm going to shoot first. I know what the setup is and which actors are required. But I have to see what occurs and like to shoot in sequence if possible. It makes for a lot of editing but I like to go on a journey with the actors. I also love working on ensemble movies like Nashville (1975), Short Cuts (1993) and Gosford Park (2001). Having multiple narratives makes my job a lot easier: if something doesn't work, it means I can cut away to something else. I also like the audience to use their necks to take in everything happening in the frame. I'd hate to do something like Two for the Seesaw (1962) where there were just two close-up faces to look at. Hide
[on his Lifetime Achivement Oscar, awarded in 2006] I can't think of a better award - to me it's bet Show more [on his Lifetime Achivement Oscar, awarded in 2006] I can't think of a better award - to me it's better for all of my work than for just a couple of things. Hide
I look at film as closer to a painting or a piece of music; it's an impression . . . an impression o Show more I look at film as closer to a painting or a piece of music; it's an impression . . . an impression of character and total atmosphere . . . The attempt is to enlist an audience emotionally, not intellectually. Hide
Filmmaking is a chance to live many lifetimes. Filmmaking is a chance to live many lifetimes.
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