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Hey folks, Harry here... I know that Quint, Moriarty and I all said our farewells and goodbyes to Robert Altman today, but when Altman's production company sent this prepared statement - with thoughts of various friends and co-conspirators of Altman, I just had to share. I've spoken to a great many people today about Altman's passing and from filmmaker to filmmaker there has been just a very profound sadness. Altman was a beloved filmmaker. A Director's Director. Here's the statement:

SANDCASTLE 5 PRODUCTIONS NEW YORK (November 21, 2006) - Academy Award® winning film director Robert Altman died Monday, November 20 in Los Angeles from complications due to cancer. He was 81. He had lived and worked with the disease for the last 18 months, a period that included the making of his film A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION, which was released this summer. His death was, nevertheless, a surprise: Altman was in pre-production on a film he had planned to start shooting in February. Altman is survived by his wife, Kathryn Reed Altman and six children, Christine Westphal, Michael Altman, Stephen Altman, Connie Corriere, Robert Reed Altman and Matthew Altman, twelve grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Altman died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, surrounded by his wife and children. Memorial services are being planned. * * * Throughout his extraordinary career, Robert Altman surprised, entertained and challenged audiences with vibrant, freewheeling films that stretch the boundaries of the medium. He was the recipient of an Honorary Academy Award at the 78th Academy Awards presentation on March 5, 2006, in a ceremony recognizing “a career that has repeatedly reinvented the art form and inspired filmmakers and audiences alike." Altman’s more than thirty features bear witness to an extraordinary creative range: films made with enormous casts (NASHVILLE, SHORT CUTS), as well as with a solitary cast member (SECRET HONOR); films celebrating male camaraderie (M*A*S*H*, CALIFORNIA SPLIT) and those exploring women’s consciousness (IMAGES, THREE WOMEN, COME BACK TO THE FIVE AND DIME, JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY DEAN). He inverted, satirized and enriched genres like the western (McCABE AND MRS. MILLER), the gangster melodrama (THIEVES LIKE US), the detective film (THE LONG GOODBYE), the biography (VINCENT AND THEO) and the English drawing-room whodunit (GOSFORD PARK). His source material included comics (POPEYE), the ballet (THE COMPANY), the theatre (STREAMERS, FOOL FOR LOVE, Harold Pinter’s THE ROOM and THE DUMB WAITER), contemporary politics (“Tanner ’88” and “Tanner on Tanner”) and contemporary literature (SHORT CUTS). Altman’s work with actors was legendary. His use of music broke ground in films as different as McCABE AND MRS. MILLER, NASHVILLE, and KANSAS CITY. He was applauded for the technical innovation of multi-layered soundtracks and for his pioneering use of the zoom lens. While his subjects and themes were diverse, he often cast an irreverent eye on the institutions, mores and foibles of American life, matching that with an encompassing, unsentimental humanism. Altman received five Academy Award® nominations for Best Director (GOSFORD PARK, SHORT CUTS, THE PLAYER, M*A*S*H*, and NASHVILLE), and three for Best Film (GOSFORD PARK, M*A*S*H*, and NASHVILLE). Altman’s numerous awards include: at Cannes, the Palme d’Or/Best Film (M*A*S*H*), and Best Director (THE PLAYER); the New York Film Critics Circle, Best Film (THE PLAYER, NASHVILLE) and Best Director (GOSFORD PARK, THE PLAYER, NASHVILLE); the Venice Film Festival Grand Prix, Best Film (SHORT CUTS); the British Academy Award (BAFTA) for Best British Film (GOSFORD PARK), Best Director (THE PLAYER) and Best Foreign Television Series (“Tanner 88”); opening night of the New York Film Festival (SHORT CUTS, A WEDDING); and an Emmy for Best Director (“Tanner ’88”). Career honors have been bestowed by, among others, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the Venice Film Festival, the American Film Institute, the Directors Guild of America, the Society of American Cinema Editors, the Cinema Audio Society, the American Society of Cinematographers and the Independent Feature Project. * * * “I was friends with Bob for 20 years before we worked together on GOSFORD PARK. It was then that I experienced the real magic of Robert Altman. When he was working he had a youthful joyfulness that was just amazing.” – Bob Balaban “I have always admired Robert Altman's films and it was an honor to work with him on A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION. We had so much fun working on that project over the past year and I know that he went out ‘with his boots on’.” – Bob Berney, President of Picturehouse “He was a great man of the cinema and a great man. Everybody who had the privilege to know him will miss him hugely.” - Kenneth Branagh “There’s no one I’m prouder to have worked with. He was an ecstatic…a magician…a conjurer…a mischievous boy. Perhaps unprecedented. He understood and could express that uniquely American shapeshifting goofiness more than anyone. He was the deepest ocean and the lightest feather at the same time…we all loved him so very much.” - Richard Gere “Mr. Altman loved making movies. He loved the chaos of shooting and the sociability of the crew and actors --- he adored actors --- and he loved the editing room and he especially loved sitting in a screening room and watching the thing over and over with other people. He didn’t care for the money end of things, he didn’t mind doing publicity, but when he was working he was in heaven. He and I once talked about making a movie about a man coming back to Lake Wobegon to bury his father, and Mr. Altman said, “The death of an old man is not a tragedy.” I used that line in the movie we wound up making --- the Angel of Death says it to the Lunch Lady, comforting her on the death of her lover Chuck Akers in his dressing room, “The death of an old man is not a tragedy.” Mr. Altman’s death seems so honorable and righteous --- to go in full-flight, doing what you love --- like his comrades in the Army Air Force in WWII who got shot out of the sky and simply vanished into blue air --- and all of us who worked with him had the great privilege of seeing an 81-year-old guy doing what he loved to do. I’m sorry that our movie turned out to be his last, but I do know that he loved making it. It’s a great thing to be 81 and in love.” – Garrison Keillor “It was inspiring to know that Robert was in preproduction on his next film. Working with him was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I am blessed to have worked with him and to have known him as Bob. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Kathryn and his children.” – Virginia Madsen "A great man has left this stage. If Bob had his way I'm sure he would want the speeches about him to be short and to the point. In my too brief time with him, his life seemed to be concerned with two things, telling it like it is and having fun. Every one of us has a lot of living to do if we are to follow his example. My thoughts and prayers are with Kathryn and his family, the immediate family and the gloriously extended one. I guess I'll see him in the next reel as he used to say." – John C. Reilly "I am deeply saddened by the passing of Robert Altman, a great friend and inspiration to me since I had the honor of meeting him in 1990. His unique vision and maverick sensibilities in filmmaking have inspired countless directors of my generation and will continue to inspire future filmmakers. He leaves behind a legacy of great American films and he will be deeply missed." – Tim Robbins “Bob's restless spirit has moved on -- I have to say, when I spoke with him last week, he seemed impatient for the future. He still had the generous, optimistic appetite for the next thing, and we planned the next film laughing in anticipation of the laughs we'd have. What a gent, what a guy, what a great heart. There's no one like him and we'll miss him so.” – Meryl Streep * * * Donations in his name can be made to the Cedars-Sinai Hospital Heart and Lung Transplant Unit.
Readers Talkback
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  • Nov. 21, 2006, 8:12 p.m. CST

    Very sad

    by Jaka

    We were, seriously, just talking about Short Cuts yesterday at work. Altman was one of those directors whose films were always worth watching, even when they weren't perfect. Sad that there will be no more. But he will live forever through his most loved work. We'll make sure of that.

  • Nov. 21, 2006, 8:15 p.m. CST

    and very touching

    by occula

    beautiful sentiments from a lot of people who were definitely lucky to have worked with him.

  • Nov. 21, 2006, 8:23 p.m. CST

    Just wanted to say

    by seppukudkurosawa

    That the Long Goodbye might very well be in my personal top 10. I love how Gould played Marlowe as if he went to sleep in '41 after taking a good, stiff whisky nightcap, and woke up the next day in 1973...There's also the fact that those hippie chicks who lived next door to him make me want to pull my old orange moomoo from out of the closet and start singing "Hare Krishna Hare Hare" (just as long as it'll get me laid). <p> </p>Like I said before Altman was a laid-back, gentle genius whose creative well never dried-up. RIP it up and start it again my man.

  • Nov. 21, 2006, 8:46 p.m. CST

    its a damn shame

    by s0nicdeathmonkey

    a DAMN shame to have lost the man. I adored his work.

  • Nov. 21, 2006, 10:29 p.m. CST



    What a sad day...

  • Nov. 21, 2006, 10:41 p.m. CST

    I went to see Short Cuts....

    by exie

    ...because I had heard that Julianne Moore did an entire scene with no clothing on beneath the waist....I walked out of that film an instant Altman fan. The monologue in the hospital with Jack Lemmon left me slack jawed. From there I devoued everything he did and fell in love with how his movies and they worlds they created. RIP Mr. Altman. You and your films will be missed.

  • Nov. 22, 2006, 12:50 a.m. CST

    Thank you, sir.

    by Babba-Booey


  • Nov. 22, 2006, 1:34 a.m. CST

    I'm going to hire a bunch of his dvds this weekend

    by BenBraddock

    And there are a few I haven't seen - "new" Altman films waiting to be discovered :-)

  • Nov. 22, 2006, 1:51 a.m. CST

    It’s a great thing to be 81 and in love.

    by DarthVerbalKint

    what a great thing to say. And what a great place for robert altman to have been in. but i'm deeply saddened to know that there won't be any more robert altman films. as others have said, he is an influence to filmmakers everywhere. but i think more than that he was/is an influence to people everywhere, on how to view life, live life and do as much as you can with the moment as it allows, and enjoy it. thank you robert altman.

  • Nov. 22, 2006, 2:37 a.m. CST


    by hypno27

    and the only Oscar he got was for Lifetime Achievement. The individual films were worth more than that. He will be remembered as a great American artist by world.

  • Nov. 22, 2006, 2:38 a.m. CST

    Short Cuts is my fave Altman film...

    by Sledge Hammer

    But Streamers, I think, is one of his most criminally underrated and overlooked. It seems to be one of those films that just fell through the cracks, but it truly is a great film. Altman made so many not just good, but truly great films, and his presence will be missed by film fans everywhere, just as his films will hold their deserved place in film history.

  • Nov. 22, 2006, 4:01 a.m. CST

    So Will Spielberg Finish Altman's Film?

    by tonagan

    Since he did Kubrick's AI (for better or worse), he could take a crack at it.

  • Nov. 22, 2006, 6:51 a.m. CST

    The academy knew that Altman was

    by emeraldboy

    dying so they gave him a lifetime Achievement award. My mother died of breast cancer three years ago. I know how hard it is to watch someone, you love, admire and respect go downhill so quickly especially someone who smart, bright and intelligent. My mothers father died of Cancer in 1948 and you would think that we would have erradicated by know but we havent and it still claims victims all over the world. If someon is going to write something about altman can we at least acknowledge that not all the films he made were great.

  • Nov. 22, 2006, 7:45 a.m. CST


    by richier123

    I feel bad for the guy, and you could see some genious in his movies. But maybe he should have lived up to his end of the bargin when he publically said he'd leave the country if George W. was elected. I'd have much more respect for the guy.....

  • Nov. 22, 2006, 8:41 a.m. CST


    by filmcoyote

    is my favourite, but he left so many great movies - Nashville, MASH, Short Cuts, Long Goodbye, The Player. Like Scorsese, Kubrick or Woody Allen his worst were better than most people's best. See you soon Bob.

  • Nov. 22, 2006, 11 a.m. CST

    it was his decision to stand

    by emeraldboy

    outside the system, which brought him love and loathing in equal measure. He was a liberal working in a Converative system. Conservatives didnt like MASH which escoriated Americas participation in the Vietnam war Conservatives didnt like Nashville, which is in after all the patriotic heartland in of america. His one mainstream movie POPEYE bombed at the box and it took a decade for altman to return to form. Short Cuts and the player are regarded as two of the best films altman have ever made. Then he made a number of movies which are preplexing, perplexingly awful. Cookies Fortune, Pret a Porter and Dr T and Women. That last film had Richard Gere in it. A gere movie these days will be automatically stamped as a bad movie. Gosford Park was about as brilliant as a comeback as you can get. I havent seen Prarie Home companion, mr brother was a big Keillor fan , where I always found him boring. Its the monotonous voice deadpan voice. Altman made great films but he blew hot and cold and in the end his career wasnt the sum of its part.

  • Nov. 22, 2006, 11:03 a.m. CST

    I forgot to mention

    by emeraldboy

    Kansas City in the list of the perplexingly awful films

  • Nov. 22, 2006, 12:14 p.m. CST

    someone beat me to it...

    by Abhimanyu

    ...but yeah, Popeye was far from a bomb, at least at the boxoffice. And, I posted yesterday on the RIP thread; today I think I am appreciating the fact that I came to this site as soon as I heard about Altman and I was not dissappointed. Lots of love, lots of respect. This is one of those reasons why the internet is worth the trouble.

  • Nov. 22, 2006, 1:10 p.m. CST

    Why no mention for "O.C. and Stiggs"?

    by MattCG

    I love that movie. I will miss Altman. He wasn't always great, but he was always interesting and that's something hardly any other filmmaker can say.

  • Nov. 22, 2006, 1:14 p.m. CST

    absolutely devastating news...

    by beamish13

    I've loved Altman for years, and I have tried to watch every one of his films and major television works. "Brewster McCloud" is one of those life-affirming movies that never fails to cheer me up when I think about it. "Three Women", "Secret Honor", "The Long Goodbye", "Gosford Park", "Vincent and Theo", and "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean" are just a sample of the host of brilliant films this man was responsible for. Even Altman's so-called "lesser" films like "Dr. T and the Women", "O.C. and Stiggs", "H.E.A.L.T.H.", and "Fool for Love" challenged and enraptured me like so few other movies. He was a true maverick that no living American filmmaker can possibly compare themselves to. To end his career so magnificently with "Prairie Home Companion" at the age of 81 shows how much vitality he had, and I only hope that movielovers that have never seen one of his films or delved deeply into his catalog will do so, and prepare to see the work of a true artist that will leave an enormous vacuum to fill in cinema.

  • Nov. 22, 2006, 9:19 p.m. CST

    No mention of Brewster McCloud?

    by NNNOOO!!!

    Perhaps the definitive Altman film, if there could be such a thing. Too bad it's not on DVD.