BFI celebrates the films of Robert Altman in major season

By Ray Bennett

LONDON – Robert Altman movies spanning five decades are to be screened in a major season at the British Film Institute. Running from May 17 to July 31, the programme will present 34 films in chronological order including ‘Nashville’ (above), which also will be released in select cinemas across the U.K. on June 25 in a 4K restoration.

Altman (right) is my favourite film director and I agree fully with the view of the BFI in announcing the season: ‘Using irreverent humour and focusing sympathetically – but never sentimentally – on losers and loners, he overturned the conventions of genre revealing a culture obsessed with money, celebrity and power. Independent and iconoclastic, Altman continued to make fresh, intelligent, thought-provoking films throughout his fifty years in the industry.’

The season, ‘Robert Altman: American Outsider’, will include not only classics such as ‘MASH’, ‘McCabe & Mrs. Miller’ (with Julie Christie and Warren Beatty, above), ‘The Long Goodbye’ (with Sterling Hayden and Elliott Gould, below), ‘The Player’, ‘Short Cuts’ and ‘Gosford Park’ but many offbeat favourites including ‘Brewster McCloud’, ’Images’, ‘Thieves Like Us’, ‘California Split’, ‘Buffalo Bill and the Indians’, ‘3 Women’, ‘Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean’ (with Sandy Denis, Cher and Karen Black, bottom picture) and ‘Kansas City’.

The season will include an illustrated online presentation by programmer Geoff Andrew, ‘Robert Altman, Outside and Innovator’ on May 24 and an online panel discussion, ‘Women in the Films of Robert Altman’, on June 17. 

The filmmaker had many regular cast members such as Shelley Duvall (below withBud Cort in ‘Brewster McCloud’), Lily Tomlin, Elliott Gould and Paul Dooley and he worked with great cinematographers including Vilmos Zsigmond – ‘‘McCabe’, ‘Images’, ‘Long Goodbye’– and Paul Lohmann – ‘California Split’ (with Gould and George Segal, above), ‘Nashville’, ‘Buffalo Bill and the Indians’. As the BFI also said, ‘Altman repeatedly proved himself an influential innovator, experimenting with multitrack sound, overlapping dialogue, complex camera movements, freewheeling narratives and large casts of actors, many of whom he would work with multiple times. He also was a canny critic of American society and the myths that country perpetrated through movies.’

The BFI noted that health and safety measures – including social distancing and the wearing of face coverings – will continue until government guidance advises otherwise. Full details of all measures in place to protect visitors and staff are available on the BFI website.

On-sale dates: Tickets for screenings taking place between May 17 and  June 30 will go on sale to BFI Patrons and BFI Champions on 3 May, BFI Members on May 4 and to the general public on May 6. Tickets for screenings taking place in July will go on sale to BFI Patrons and BFI Champions on May 31, BFI Members on June 1 and to the general public on June 3.

Here’s the screening list:

THE JAMES DEAN STORY (Robert Altman, George W George, 1957) SAT 29 MAY 15:30 NFT2 / MON 7 JUN 20:50 NFT2

THAT COLD DAY IN THE PARK (Robert Altman, 1969) SAT 29 MAY 17:50 NFT1 / TUE 8 JUN 18:00 NFT1

M*A*S*H (Robert Altman, 1969) MON 17 MAY 20:30 NFT2 / WED 19 MAY 14:30 NFT1 / SAT 29 MAY 20:45 NFT1 / THU 10 JUN 18:00 NFT1 / TUE 22 JUN 14:30 NFT1 / MON 28 JUN 20:40 NFT2

BREWSTER MCCLOUD (Robert Altman, 1970) SUN 30 MAY 19:00 NFT1 / SUN 13 JUN 16:00 NFT3 / FRI 18 JUN 17:50 NFT3

MCCABE & MRS MILLER (Robert Altman, 1971) FRI 21 MAY 14:30 NFT1 / MON 31 MAY 18:30 NFT2 / WED 2 JUN 20:45 NFT1 / SUN 20 JUN 18:30 NFT3

IMAGES (Robert Altman, 1972) TUE 1 JUN 20:50 NFT2 / SAT 12 JUN 15:30 NFT2 / FRI 25 JUN 18:00 NFT2

THE LONG GOODBYE (Robert Altman, 1973) SUN 23 MAY 18:20 NFT3 / THU 27 MAY 20:50 NFT1 / WED 2 JUN 14:30 NFT1 / MON 7 JUN 17:50 NFT1 / SAT 19 JUN 17:30 NFT1

THIEVES LIKE US (Robert Altman, 1974) THU 3 JUN 20:40 NFT2 / TUE 8 JUN 20:30 NFT2 / MON 21 JUN 17:50 NFT2

CALIFORNIA SPLIT (Robert Altman, 1974) FRI 21 MAY 17:50 NFT3 / MON 24 MAY 20:50 NFT1 / MON 31 MAY 15:45 NFT1 / SUN 20 JUN 15:40 NFT3 / THU 24 JUN 14:30 NFT1

NASHVILLE (Robert Altman, 1975) FROM FRI 25 JUNE Seniors’ matinee + intro by Geoff Andrew MON 28 JUN 13:50 NFT1

BUFFALO BILL AND THE INDIANS, OR SITTING BULL’S HISTORY LESSON (Robert Altman, 1976) SAT 5 JUN 17:30 NFT2 / SAT 26 JUN 15:10 NFT2

3 WOMEN (Robert Altman, 1977) WED 26 MAY 20:40 NFT2 / SAT 5 JUN 20:30 NFT2 / THU 10 JUN 14:30 NFT1 / SAT 19 JUN 15:00 NFT2

A WEDDING (Robert Altman, 1978) TUE 18 MAY 20:40 NFT1 / FRI 11 JUN 18:00 NFT2 / WED 23 JUN 14:30 NFT1 / SUN 27 JUN 18:10 NFT2

QUINTET (Robert Altman, 1979) SAT 12 JUN 18:10 NFT2 / WED 30 JUN 20:45 NFT2

A PERFECT COUPLE (Robert Altman, 1979) TUE 1 JUN 17:50 NFT3 / MON 14 JUN 17:50 NFT3 / WED 16 JUN 20:45 NFT3

HEALTH (Robert Altman, 1980) TUE 15 JUN 20:45 NFT3 / SUN 27 JUN 12:15 NFT3

POPEYE (Robert Altman, 1980) SUN 13 JUN 12:50 NFT1 / TUE 29 JUN 17:50 NFT2

COME BACK TO THE 5 & DIME, JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY DEAN (Robert Altman, 1982) THU 3 JUN 17:50 NFT1 / SAT 19 JUN 12:30 NFT3

STREAMERS (Robert Altman, 1982) SUN 6 JUN 13:00 NFT3 / MON 21 JUN 20:40 NFT3

SECRET HONOR (Robert Altman, 1983) WED 16 JUN 18:00 NFT2 / SUN 27 JUN 15:50 NFT2

OC & STIGGS (Robert Altman, 1985) WED 9 JUN 20:40 NFT3 / TUE 22 JUN 18:00 NFT2

FOOL FOR LOVE (Robert Altman, 1985) SAT 5 JUN 15:10 NFT3 / SAT 12 JUN 20:40 NFT3

BEYOND THERAPY (Robert Altman, 1986) + LES BORÉADES (Robert Altman, 1987) THU 24 JUN 17:50 NFT3 / TUE 29 JUN 20:45 NFT2

VINCENT AND THEO (Robert Altman, 1990) SAT 3 JUL 12:40 NFT3 / TUE 13 JUL 20:30 NFT3

THE PLAYER (Robert Altman, 1992) SAT 3 JUL 20:40 NFT1 / MON 12 JUL 17:45 NFT1 / WED 28 JUL 20:30 NFT1

SHORT CUTS (Robert Altman, 1993) SUN 4 JUL 11:30 NFT1 / SAT 17 JUL 19:30 NFT1

PRÊT-À-PORTER (Robert Altman, 1994) SAT 3 JUL 17:40 NFT3 / MON 19 JUL 18:10 NFT3

KANSAS CITY (Robert Altman, 1996) SUN 4 JUL 15:20 NFT2 / THU 15 JUL 17:40 NFT2

THE GINGERBREAD MAN (Robert Altman, 1997) FRI 9 JUL 20:40 NFT3 / SAT 17 JUL 17:50 NFT3

COOKIE’S FORTUNE (Robert Altman, 1999) TUE 6 JUL 14:50 NFT1 / WED 7 JUL 20:40 NFT1 / TUE 27 JUL 17:40 NFT1

DR T & THE WOMEN (Robert Altman, 2000) SAT 10 JUL 15:00 NFT2 / MON 26 JUL 20:30 NFT3

GOSFORD PARK (Robert Altman, 2001) SUN 11 JUL 15:20 NFT2 / SUN 18 JUL 18:20 NFT1 / FRI 23 JUL 14:30 NFT1

THE COMPANY (Robert Altman, 2003) TUE 13 JUL 17:50 NFT2 / SAT 31 JUL 11:50 NFT2

A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION (Robert Altman, 2006) SUN 25 JUL 12:00 NFT3 / SAT 31 JUL 17:50 NFT3

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