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Watch: A Video Essay on Robert Altman’s Evolution, From Early TV Work to His Last Films

Watch: A Video Essay on Robert Altman's Evolution, From Early TV Work to His Last Films

 

So it turns out that Robert Altman, before Nashville, before The Long Goodbye, before Short Cuts, before The Player, directed for television. And this was good television: Alfred Hitchcock Presents, for instance. Or Bonanza. Or Combat! Or Bus Stop, based on William Inge’s famous play of the same name. At the time that he directed for TV, Altman was killing two birds with one stone, in a sense. He was making a living as a director, but he was also developing the relaxed, somewhat drifting style which would later characterize his work. And, while doing so, he was studying, in a sense, with older technicians, from whom he could learn something about craft, about structure, and about dramatic build on screen, which would serve him well when he unleashed himself into celluloid glory. This excellent Film Comment video essay by Violet Lucca takes us through Altman’s early work, offering it as a window into his later films.

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