- ALTMAN, Robert
- (1925–2006)After graduating from the University of Missouri with a degree in engineering and flying fighter planes in World War II, Robert Altman entered the film industry by making industrial films. During the 1960s he mostly worked in television. After making his first hit film, MASH, in 1970, he began a long career of successful hits, including two significant Westerns: McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971) and Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson (1976). Both films celebrate the end of classic Westerns and work squarely in the antimyth tradition. McCabe and Mrs. Miller, starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie, is a charming story of entrepreneurship in the old West involving a brothel. Buffalo Bill and the Indians,or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson, starring Paul Newman, concerns Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West show. Characters like Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull, and even president Grover Cleveland work their way through the story. Both Westerns exemplify Altman’s style, seen in his non-Westerns as well, of questioning and debunking every possible cliche of American myth. Altman’s is a West demythologized.
Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. Paul Varner. 2012.