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Robert Altman Remembered on DVD

21 Nov, 2006 By: John Latchem

Hollywood legend Robert Altman, who died Nov. 20 at 81, directed 40 feature films, as well as a number of television episodes and movies. He also produced and wrote the screenplays for many of his films.

Altman started his career in the early 1950s shooting industrial films before helming the 1957 feature The Delinquents. That same year he helped direct the biography The James Dean Story. While The Delinquents is available on DVD only outside North America, The James Dean Story is available from a number of sources, most notably Good Times or Delta.

Earlier this year, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released “The Robert Altman Collection,” featuring MASH (1970), A Perfect Couple (1979), Quintet (1979) and A Wedding (1978).

MASH also was part of Fox's recently released M*A*S*H: Martinis and Medicine Collection, which includes the complete run of the television series, although Altman criticized the show for not being anti-war enough.

Among Altman's best-known works are the anti-Western McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), on DVD from Warner, and the ensemble piece Nashville (1975) from Paramount.

In 1980, Altman launched Robin Williams' film career with Popeye, a live-action musical version of the famous cartoon.

His last film was A Prairie Home Companion, released last month by New Line Home Entertainment. New Line also distributed Altman's The Player (1992) and Kansas City (1996).

Other Altman movies on DVD include 1994's Ready to Wear, a Miramax film from Buena Vista Home Entertainment; Dr. T and the Women (2000), from Lionsgate; and Tanner on Tanner (2004), from Sundance Channel.

The Criterion Collection offers 3 Women (1977), Short Cuts (1993) and the HBO miniseries “Tanner '88.”

Universal Studios Home Entertainment titles from Altman include Gosford Park (2001) and The Gingerbread Man (1998), an adaptation of a John Grisham story.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment offers California Split (1974) and The Company (2003). MGM has Altman's adaptation of Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye (1973), as well as Fool for Love (1985), and O.C. and Stiggs (1987).

Image Entertainment has the 1987 opera anthology Aria, with a segment from Altman. Image also has the complete run of the 1960s show “Combat!,” for which Altman directed several episodes.

Altman also executive produced the 1997 TV series “Gun,” available from Tango Entertainment.

An “AFI Director's Series” special about Altman is available from Winstar.

Altman was nominated five times for best director without a win, for MASH, Nashville, The Player, Short Cuts and Gosford Park. He won the Golden Globe for Gosford Park.

He received an honorary Oscar earlier this year. At the ceremony he revealed he received a heart transplant a decade earlier and joked a lifetime achievement award was premature because with his new heart, he should live another 40 years.

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