Most of us know of Robert Altman's more recent films, such as "A Prairie Home Companion", "Gosford Park", and "Short Cuts", but this collection reintroduces or introduces us for the first time to some of his older works. If there is one thing that is consistent about Robert Altman's films is that they usually contain ensemble casts. Everyone who is anyone in Hollywood has worked with the man. These four films feature such big stars as Donald Sutherland, Carol Burnett, Paul Newman, Lauren Hutton, Robert Duvall, Mia Farrow, and Elliot Gould. Hollywood, critics, and filmgoers seem to have a love/hate relationship with Mr. Altman. The general consensus is that he is one of the best American directors ever and yet until he was awarded a honourary Oscar at last year's ceremony he has never won an Oscar. His films seem to bring out passionate responses in people whether positive or negative. One of the things you have to love about an Altman film is the fact that you will never be indifferent about it; you will either love it or hate it. M.A.S.H. was a solid hit while "Quintet", "A Perfect Couple" and "A Wedding" got mixed reviews. One thing you can be certain of while watching an Altman picture is that the man had a 'vision' while making each and you will never see an 'unintelligent' film from the man.
This was one of the more appreciated comedies of the 1970s, so much so that it spawned the hit television series. The Korean War and American involvement, more specifically, life at a mobile hospital unit, is examined in the film. While skillful surgeons and very committed, the doctors of the unit use humour to get through what they are living through. By rebelling against anyone they deem as the brass of the army, including the uptight Major Burns (Robert Duvall – Thank You For Smoking, Sling Blade) and Nurse Major Margaret 'Hotlips' O'Houlihan (Sally Kellerman – Punch Drunk, Prêt-a-Porter), Captain Benjamin 'Hawkeye' Pierce (Donald Sutherland – Pride and Prejudice, Cold Mountain) and Captain John 'Trapper John' McIntyre (Elliot Gould – Bugsy, Airport) try to cope with the horrors of war by drinking, carousing and laughing their way through it.
It is the final Ice Age and some humans are struggling to stay alive. Realizing that these are to be their last days alive, the human survivors start to play a game called Quintet. It is a sort of variation on backgammon with living pieces, but in this version the loser of the game is killed by the victor. The evil overseer of the game has convinced everyone, including Essex (Paul Newman) and his wife Vivia (Brigitte Fossey – Cinema Paradiso), that the winner will attain a sense of enlightenment. Packs of wild dogs await the bodies of the 'losers' as it is their only source of food. It is definitely Altman's darkest, scariest and most depressing film.
-Developing the World of Quintet
-Trailers for A Wedding, A Perfect Couple and M.A.S.H.
This is a dark comedy from Altman about a planned wedding between 'good' girl Muffin (Amy Stryker – appeared in an episode of Charlie's Angels) and the handsome groom, Dino (Desi Arnaz Jr. – The Mambo Kings). It is to be a large ceremony, but Altman alludes to the fact that marriage is not as simple as saying "I do". The groom comes from old money and the bride from new. This sets up an interesting clash of classes and cultures. The first sign of trouble is when the slightly demented priest, Bishop Martin (John Cromwell – For The Defense) refuses to perform the ceremony. Another sign is when the wedding planner, Rita Billingsley (Geraldine Chaplin – Chaplin, The Age of Innocence), becomes obsessed and not with doing a good job. The sister of the bride, Buffy (Mia Farrow – Rosemary's Baby, Crimes and Misdemeanors), seems to have a past with the groom. Everyone appears to have a secret and once they start coming to light the whole ceremony is put in jeopardy. The final debacle is when a relative chooses this moment to kick the old bucket. Ah, marriage!
-A Wedding: Altman Style
-Trailers for Quintet, A Perfect Couple and M.A.S.H.
A Perfect Couple:
Altman shows that he can make many types of movies by doing this heart-felt romantic comedy. Sheila (Marta Heflin – A Star is Born, The King of Comedy) is a singer who lives in a loft with the members of a rock group. To kick-start her romantic life Sheila begins using a computer dating service. She meets Alex (Paul Dooley – Cars, Runaway Bride), an older man from a well-to-do Greek family. They start to date and their road to love is an unusual one. It is a lesson in how to accept the differences between you and your mate.
-Perspective of a Perfect Couple
-Trailers for A Wedding, Quintet and M.A.S.H.