POPEYE
1980, Paramount, 114 min, USA, Dir: Robert Altman

Few actors could bring a cartoon character to life the way Robin Williams does in his first major film role as the titular sailor man in director Robert Altman’s musical comedy (though Shelley Duvall is pretty well cast herself as rail-thin love interest Olive Oyl). Bluto, Wimpy, Swee'Pea and all your favorites are here, as Popeye searches for his father and discovers the power of spinach. While not the blockbuster it was expected to be, the film was a financial success, and its cult reputation has risen through the years, thanks in part to its Jules Feiffer-penned screenplay and Harry Nilsson’s music.


NASHVILLE
1975, Paramount, 159 min, USA, Dir: Robert Altman

One of Robert Altman’s greatest pictures is this sprawling, nearly-out-of-control mosaic of a movie, a loosely linked series of sagas following numerous colorful characters in Nashville on the occasion of a political convention and a music festival. Somehow, as if by magic (and aided by Joan Tewkesbury’s script), Altman pulls together all the seemingly disparate threads, making everything cohere in a funny, sad, poignant and exhilarating totality. The cast includes Karen Black, Ronee Blakely, Lily Tomlin, Shelley Duvall, Keith Carradine, Ned Beatty, Barbara Baxley, Gwen Welles, Henry Gibson, Robert Doqui, Allen Garfield and more Oscar-nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actresses (both Tomlin and Blakely). Carradine received an Oscar for Best Original Song, "I’m Easy."


THE LONG GOODBYE
1973, Park Circus/MGM, 112 min, USA, Dir: Robert Altman

Robert Altman deconstructs the private-eye genre while somehow remaining faithful to the spirit of the original Raymond Chandler novel (aided by screenwriter Leigh Brackett, who helped adapt Howard Hawks’ THE BIG SLEEP). Elliott Gould is a smart-aleck, slightly inept Philip Marlowe, a detective seemingly more concerned about feeding a cat than solving a case. He gets drawn into a labyrinth of deceptions and double crosses by friend Terry Lennox (Jim Bouton), a beautiful rich woman (Nina Van Pallandt) with a drunken, genius writer of a husband (Sterling Hayden in a tour de force portrayal), a quietly menacing psychiatrist (Henry Gibson) and a sociopathic gangster (Mark Rydell). Altman rips aside the slick veneer of the Southern California good life revealing the smog-drenched, corrupt underbelly like few other directors before or since.


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