Look closely and you will find traces of Robert Altman’s signature cinematic approach in the just-discovered footage of his lost early film “Modern Football.” Produced in 1951 for the Kansas City film company Calvin, the 26-year-old Altman amusingly strings together the daily life of football players with their game.
Discovered at a sprawling swap meet in Kansas City by filmmaker Gary Huggins, “Modern Football” was the most boring title, he said, in a pack of instructional films he had purchased for $10. When he saw Altman’s moniker, he transferred the 16-millimeter print and posted it publicly on YouTube.
Nearly two decades before directing his breakout “M.A.S.H.,” Altman is experimenting here. It’s an instructional film, but Altman manages to work in a dream sequence, player psychology and hilariously blatant product placement. See the early Altman foray here or below.