The Twin Geeks 162: Robert Altman – Short Cuts & Long Goodbyes, Part 4

The legacy of Robert Altman presides mostly in the ’70s, based on the strength of his back-to-back run of multiple masterpieces in the early part of that decade. That trend did not continue for him on into the ’80s, as a series of previous flops put him in a precarious scenario of needing a big commercial hit that studio executives were praying would allude him. Peculiar oddities like A Perfect Couple (1979) and HealtH (1980) estranged him from producers in Hollywood, on top of already being something of a pariah for his maverick-like approach to directing his pictures, and they were looking for any reason to box him out for good. After the perceived disaster of his big-budget Popeye adaptation (which was actually a financial success), Altman was booted from Hollywood and forced to take up work on the stage. Subsequently, he adapted Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982) and Streamers (1983) into critically successful works that, while no boon with audiences nor studio heads, revived his flagging reputation in the eyes of critics around the world. The ’80s was certainly no high point for Altman’s directorial career, but it was certainly not a wash either.

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