ROBERT ALTMAN QUOTES

American film director & screenwriter (1925-2006)

Jazz has endured because it doesn't have a beginning or an ending. It's a moment.

ROBERT ALTMAN, Esquire, Mar. 2004

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Tags: jazz


I never knew what I wanted, except that it was something I hadn't seen before.

ROBERT ALTMAN, Esquire the Meaning of Life: Wisdom, Humor, and Damn Good Advice from 64 Extraordinary Lives

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Chance is another name that we give to our mistakes. And all of the best things in my films are mistakes.

ROBERT ALTMAN, "Still up to Mischief", The Guardian, Apr. 30, 2004

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Tags: chance, mistakes


Making a movie is like chipping away at a stone. You take a piece off here, you take a piece off there and when you're finished, you have a sculpture. You know that there's something in there, but you're not sure exactly what it is until you find it.

ROBERT ALTMAN, Star Tribune, Jun. 4, 2006

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The artist and the multitude are natural enemies. They always will be, both ways. The artist is an enemy of the multitude, and the multitude is the enemy of the artist. And when the disguise comes off and they're both standing facing one another, they're just there at odds end.

ROBERT ALTMAN, interview with F. Anthony Macklin, 1976

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Tags: artists


Words don't tell you what people are thinking. Rarely do we use words to really tell. We use words to sell people or to convince people or to make them admire us. It's all disguise. It's all hidden -- a secret language.

ROBERT ALTMAN, Esquire, Mar. 2004

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Tags: words


I'll give you the same advice I give my children: Never take advice from anybody.

ROBERT ALTMAN, Esquire, Mar. 2004

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Tags: advice


Happy endings are absolutely ludicrous, they're not true at all. We see the guy carry the girl across the threshold and everybody lives happily ever after -- that's bullshit. Three weeks later he's beating her up and she's suing for divorce and he's got cancer.

ROBERT ALTMAN, interview with Peter Keogh

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I am not an expert. That is someone else's job. If I were expert, the approach would be all wrong. It would be from the inside. I am a blunderer. I usually don't know what I am going into at the start. I go into the fog and trust something will be there.

ROBERT ALTMAN, "Still up to Mischief", The Guardian, Apr. 30, 2004

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I make no apologies for Popeye. Behind M*A*S*H, it's my biggest hit. It got maligned by the critics because it wasn't Superman. It wasn't about special effects and it wasn't made for 14-year-old boys. The majority of films are made for 14-year-old boys; I don't know where they get the eight bucks to get in. It's hush money from the parents.

ROBERT ALTMAN, interview, Total Film: The Modern Guide to Movies, Mar. 15, 2004

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Wisdom and love have nothing to do with one another. Wisdom is staying alive, survival. You're wise if you don't stick your finger in the light plug. Love -- you'll stick your finger in anything.

ROBERT ALTMAN, Esquire the Meaning of Life: Wisdom, Humor, and Damn Good Advice from 64 Extraordinary Lives

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Tags: wisdom, love


[The Player is] not a truthful indictment of Hollywood. It's much uglier than I portrayed it, but nobody would've been interested if I'd shown just how sadistic, cruel and self-orientated it is.

ROBERT ALTMAN, interview, Total Film: The Modern Guide to Movies, Mar. 15, 2004

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Tags: Hollywood


I've been in this business long enough to have acclaim and disclaim, and to know the acclaim means no more than the disclaim.

ROBERT ALTMAN, "Still up to Mischief", The Guardian, Apr. 30, 2004

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People have asked me throughout the years which directors have influenced me. I don't know their names, because I was mostly influenced when I'd see a film and think, "Man, I want to be sure to never do anything like that." So I never learned their names. It wasn't a matter of copying or emulating somebody I admired. It was getting rid of a lot of stuff.

ROBERT ALTMAN, Stop Smiling, issue #23

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Why should I keep doing things that I've done before?

ROBERT ALTMAN, interview, Stumped Magazine

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Most of my films I call arena films. I deal with a confined area -- an arena -- and I try to cover every aspect of it.

ROBERT ALTMAN, Stop Smiling, issue #23

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I insist that they do what they became actors to do. I want them to create something and not just hit marks and say words. So they all love that because they're playing. It's called playacting. Their contributions are not only welcomed, but are accepted and used.

ROBERT ALTMAN, Star Tribune, Jun. 4, 2006

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Tags: acting


We make too much of the good and too much of the bad.

ROBERT ALTMAN, Esquire, Mar. 2004

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If something works for you, you continue to do it. I did a bunch of pictures for 20th Century Fox when Alan Ladd was over there, but I set the budgets so low that they'd approve and I'd deliver the film. They would have no say in it, which is the kind of arrangement I liked.

ROBERT ALTMAN, Stop Smiling, issue #23

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I love fishing. You put that line in the water and you don't know what's on the other end. Your imagination is under there.

ROBERT ALTMAN, Esquire, Mar. 2004

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Tags: fishing, imagination