A Question I put to Dr. Lloyd

A Question I put to Dr. Lloyd
Ask Dr. Lloyd: http://askdrlloyd.com/

By Jen Kiley

a symbol of trust

dear dr. lloyd, i’m back with another question. please don’t let me get into trouble this time. today as i was waiting to start my therapy session, my therapist was followed into her office with her supervisor. everybody was being pleasant until the supervisor advised me that the Ethics Code for APA did not allow therapist and client to exchange emails even though it was being done for therapeutic reasons. I’ve been doing this for over 4 years now with my former therapist and now my present therapist. She also said it was for confidentiality reasons that i and supposedly other clients of other therapists were not being allowed to use emails to communicate between sessions. during my session after the supervisor left I became very angry, actually before hand also. i told her i didn’t care who might read what i wrote since i am a writer and have learned that sometimes you do have unknown people as an audience. so anyway during my subsequent session, my therapist told me i was the only client that wrote to their therapist. i feel this is all unfair and felt it was more a political maneuver than an actual issue. later when i got home i checked with the APA in Washington DC about this matter and they informed me there is no such rule in the Ethics Code. What should I do next? This seems to be a recurrent issue at this counseling center to prevent me from receiving the therapy that is necessary for the benefit of my treatment. i have many psych issues and need this contact and being denied is a detriment to my mental stability.i recently lost my former therapist with 2 weeks notice and the only contact with her has been two times in over 6 months through email going through my present therapist and she denied a very important communique between myself and my former therapist which sent me over the edge. now there will not be allowed any email between my present therapist which means absolutely no connection at all with my former therapist. I am aware of the 2 year rule because i read the entire Ethics code back when she left because i questioned the necessity of the 2 year separation period. Any guidance that you can give me on this matter will be greatly appreciated. i’m at my wits end. thank you sincerely, ~jen~

the ideal work space for being as relaxed as possible while writing to your therapist

rhianna feat. eminem -i love the way you lie


something dun to make anyone smile-enjoy ;->)
Centraal Station Antwerpen gaat uit zijn dak!
Julie Andrews singing Do Re Mi for a Flash Mob ramping up the beat

Any comments and what to do in a situation like this one??? Does anyone else do email with their therapist and is it a problem???

my unsafe place

Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture- The Final – ending (V for Vendetta)

ah! my safe place-everyone should have a safe place

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways
collected poems and songs
Post Created by jen kiley

Sonnets from the Portuguese, XIV
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love’s sake only. Do not say
‘I love her for her smile–her look–her way
Of speaking gently,–for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or change for thee,–and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity’s wiping my cheeks dry,
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love, thereby!
But love me for love’s sake, that evermore
Thou mayst love on, through love’s eternity.

Tonight I Wanna Cry–Keith Urban

Sonnet CXLI
by William Shakespeare

In faith, I do not love thee with mine eyes,
For they in thee a thousand errors note;
But ’tis my heart that loves what they despise,
Who in despite of view is pleased to dote;

Haunting-Ethereal Cello Music-Adam Hurst

Sonnet 43: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,­I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!­and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Need You Now-Lady Antebellum

I Promise I Will Find You Somewhere In Time

I Promise I Will Find You Somewhere In Time

by Jen Kiley

If we are not meant to know each other any longer in this lifetime and in past lives we were always pulled apart, then I will have to find you somewhere in time. This I promise to you with all my heart and soul and mind and body. You mean so much to me, more than you will ever know or understand. How do I explain that I Love You and I’ve always loved you and I will continue to love you always and forever. Will you ever understand how important you are to me??? All the people around us and the rules of the organization have pulled us apart. They prevent us from any contact. How do we know that what was once there between will exist when the rules set us free. I can not bear the thoughts that I will lose you again because time has destroyed the bond we so painstakingly created between us???

This music played so delicately on the piano gives me the chills which make me feel your presence as though you were a ghost. Maybe it is your spirit feeling mine reaching out to you. Last night I wrote a message to you that came from anger and frustration that I am unable to convey to you just how much I need you now. It has become unbearable knowing you are out there just beyond my reach. Others are able to spend time with you and they get to enjoy their time spent with you. Why is it so difficult for me to accept this distance we must maintain??? And why doesn’t anyone understand the importance of my making and having contact with you now, not 18 months from now but in this moment in time, this is when I need you. You have broken my heart and it continues to be broken every moment that I am unable to be with you; to call you; to speak with you; to just have you hold me in your arms in a hug that I would want to last forever. It is so unreasonable, love is. Love is painful. Love is the demon that steals your breath away. Love is the captor of the spirit when least suspecting. Love is positive when one is not needing it to be there for you. Love is an invisible essence that gives unexpectedly a comfort and a joy that a living creature can not live or thrive without. Being denied love is destructive to all parts of ones being. Without love one shrivels up and dies and becomes a walking corpse inside and zombie-like body that feels nothing but pain and seeks only release in death.

Am I depressed??? Yes, I am floating inside of a bipolar depression that will not release me except into temporary moments of clarity where I am able to laugh momentarily at modern family but then I pass back into my inner loneliness with our her.

As the words that are spoken at the beginning to the film “Somewhere In Time”: “Come back to me’, hold so much meaning for the older woman who speaks these words to the young man, Richard Collier, who has just had his first play produced, but who is surprised and bewildered by her presence and what possible meaning these words have to do with him. He reluctantly accepts her gift of a gold pocket watch as she tucks it into the palm of his hand and then folds his fingers over the watch. He keeps the watch on him from that point forward and he continually listens to a piece of music: S. Rachmaninoff, Rhapsody on a theme by Paganini which haunts him as it had haunted her for her entire life. Somehow this piece of music and the gold pocket watch are their connection through time.

It is in our nature to solve the mysteries in our life. His mystery prevents him more and more to be unable to continue his work of professionally writing his plays on deadline. It is necessary to resolve what it is that is calling him into the past, a place that he, at first, does not realize that is where he needs to be. To travel back to Elise McKenna, back in the early 1900 hundreds, in order to meet her for the first time and to discover why she meets him in his future. Of course, he has no idea why she means so much to him until when he is visiting the Grand Hotel and wanders through a viewing room and sees her photograph that has a look that appears to be looking straight at him as though it has happened before someplace in his memory. He becomes driven by a force unknown or understood by him but a force that cause him to pursue and resolve what it is exactly that those haunting words mean: COME BACK TO ME!!!”

I wrote something last night that expressed just what the depth of my despair is that exists within me at the loss of the woman that I love and need and want so deeply to be present in my life. It shows the madness that is developing within me. Just as Richard in “Somewhere In Time” becomes more and more obsessed with getting back to the time in which Elise McKenna is living a vital life as a famous actress just waiting for him though in the past she doesn’t know it is Richard for whom she is waiting, but she is waiting just the same. Time travel or Reincarnation is a difficult concept to explain or to even believe in but like Richard I do believe in Reincarnation and I believe the woman that I am having such a difficult time living without any contact is a spirit I have known throughout time and we are meant to be together in some form in this lifetime beyond what has already existed between us. It is such things that are the creators of madness, the denial of or the belief in from the rest of the world that I desparately need her whether she knows it or whether anyone else understands the strong need for our energies to come toether.

It’s like denying water to a person who has been in the desert for more days then they should be able to survive without it. I am dying inside and can do nothing more than I am doing already. Time does not move fast enough or at all until one arrives at ones destination. The water in this instance is of a spiritual nature and energy, made up of entirely innocent purposes.

I say this to the woman I am missing so much. Hopefully she will understand someday just how I feel. I call it simple love, a love between a mentor and her disciple; a muse and inspiration to her student creator. These are the words Elise McKenna speaks to Richard Collier as he sits in the audience watching her performance as she goes off her lines to inject this message just for him. I take the liberties to change the gender so that I am speaking to my muse and inspiration and the woman who has opened up my life so that I could in my many identities become real again. That is what she has done for me and she, also, showed me what unconditional love and understanding and kindness and healing is. Here are the words as I would speak them to her if only I could see her and speak to her.

“The woman of my dreams has almost faded now. The one I have created in my mind. The sort of woman each woman dreams of, in the deepest and most secret reaches of her heart. I can almost see her now before me. What would I say to her if she were really here? ‘Forgive me. I have never known this feeling. I have lived without it all my life. Is it any wonder, then, I failed to recognize you? You, who brought it to me for the first time. Is there any way that I can tell you how my life has changed? Any way at all to let you know what sweetness you have given me? There is so much to say. I cannot find the words. Except for these: I love you’. Such would I say to her if she were really here.”

This is what I wrote last night in my manuscript to say to her. It coming from all my pain, hurt and anger at her abandoning me so suddenly and the fact that we are not allowed to have any contact with one another. It would mean her license and who knows what would happen to me, maybe my banishment from ever seeing her again ever in this life time.

Saturday: 6.25.11 @3:45am

“I am feeling abandoned by everyone. even though that is not the truth. no response from d. to my honest letter. either she is out sick again and therefore unavailable or she didn’t read my letter or she doesn’t want to answer it because as s. has said it was an angry letter and d. is going to realize this. I had to call d. on judging my art versus s.’s. we are so different. I am doing what I need to do to grow creatively. I need m’s encouragement not d’s negativity entering my brain. kill me now if I can not be myself and have that be enough, I just would prefer to die right now if I can’t see m.. she is the symbolic Great Feminine. I need her presence in my life. I must somehow reach out to her. what can I do to get through to you m. what must I do to reach out to you. you are too perfect and obey the damned rules. are you so uptight you can not break out of the mold??? I want to kill myself now or hurt myself, cut myself open. it is too painful, it comes on in floods. typing is driving me crazy. it just doesn’t flow. contact me m. hear my thoughts. I need to release the energy that is frustrating me and making me feel so much pressure. d. doesn’t seem to care enough to even call me or drop me a line. what am I going to do next week. I do not think I want to see her. I want to see you m. or someone else but not d. please let s. and I win the lottery so we can afford a therapist that will be who we want to talk to and work with on our terms and they won’t abandon us. thanks m., I’d like to say to you, fuck you for doing this to me. I was fucked when I was a kid I do not nor did not need you to do that to me now. I am so angry with you for leaving me behind you and you don’t look back. I want to take all my psych drugs and just overdose. what is the point in going on. I‘m just going to continue to fuck up and lose people and people will continue to abandon me. I never thought you would be one of those people. but fuck what you did.”

This is what I wrote in the early hours of this day and it seems I am not doing or feeling much better since those words were written. Write it off to being in a state of mental imbalance or divine madness or taking new meds later than I should have or just needing to see m. and speak to her. What is wrong with getting the love that you want from the person you want it from??? It is not like I do not have other people in my life that love me and that I love but it is the madness of not being able to have the love from m. that i seem to most need in my life more than anything. It is too strong to be only of this time and place. It feels too universal and timeless. Will this pain ever end and will I make it until the time when the rules no longer apply and control us from meeting. And when the time does come will what we once had created between us still exist or be able to be recaptured or will it become only an illusion and my madness will totally take over my being forever???

Come Back To the Five and Dime Jimmie Dean Jimmie Dean

Come Back To the Five and Dime Jimmie Dean Jimmie Dean

By Jen Kiley

Clips do not belong to me but the use of them is to pay tribute in particularly to Sandy Dennis, but also to remember Robert Altman, James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor.

I chose the film that is the title to this piece and clips from other Sandy Dennis films because the themes are of relationships and arguments and discussion, some of a very bizarre nature. The situations you find the characters are in help define for me what an argument is or at least make it clearer as to what it is not. I, also chose Sandy Dennis as one of the main actors in these films because I am one degree of separation from her in real life and met and knew her mother through a friend of mine when we were teenagers and just starting group psychotherapy. I knew A. for several years when he introduced me to Sandy’s mom, who belonged to another group that A. wanted me to join. She was the coolest lady. We use to talk about our dreams and she told me many stories. One in particular was her enjoying the beaches of Barbados and partaking of the sand as a place to enjoy a good nights sleep and dreams. A place that I now dream of as my safe place and getaway. Someday, if I am able I will visit this place. It is also the location of the Julie Andrews film Tamarind Seed, directed by her late husband Blake Edwards, who dies at the end of 2010. SO it does hold great meaning for me in many ways. Also the winds and temperature and beaches are divine. SO back to Sandy’s mom, she, also, told me of the many cats that Sandy and her family had together. Being a cat person myself this was an enjoyable exchange. It was a brief encounter but I enjoyed every moment of it and also told her that I adored her daughter very much. Sandy was also chosen for this post because she died young and that seems to be a theme in my life. The first film I picked to share are clips when put together form the complete film by Robert Altman of Come To the Five and Dime, Jimmie Dean, Jimmie Dean. Being a fan of both Sandy Dennis and feeling the connection through her mom and being a lover of Robert Altman films, I’ve wanted to see this film for the longest of times and serendipitously came upon it last night and upon Sandy Dennis and Robert Altman all in one memorable evening as I created a post-scribe of a Tribute to Robert Altman and all of his work in films and television. He is my all time favorite director and when he died I felt a great loss to myself and to the world of films. He was such a magnificent director and story teller. No one will ever be able to replace him or to replace Sandy Dennis. She is truly amazing. I do wish someone would put this film onto DVD. It would be in my family’s collection immediately. And James Dean is by far my favorite actor of all time. If he had not crashed and died so young and before he could even realize his greatness, oh the films he could have made. All of them are lost to us now. Please enjoy this tribute to them all. And take note the lesbian love that is manipulated by the past way of thinking about homosexual unions. The gay couples usually break up or one hangs themselves or somehow dies.

Come Back To the Five and Dime Jimmie Dean, Jimmie Dean is a film with a wonderful retrospective and occurs during the time of James Dean and deals with relevant issues, what some would say were before their time, It stars Sandy Dennis, Cher, Kathy Bates, Karen Black and several other actors. A complete female cast with the exception of a young male actor who appears in some of the flashbacks.

Theatrical Trailer for the 1967 drama The Fox, based on D.H. Lawrences’s novel.

The Fox (1967)

Great film that needs to be released on DVD. I love Sandy Dennis!

Anne Heywood and Sandy Dennis frolic merrily before their love nest is upturned by the Fox, Keir Dullea.

One always has to die in order for the heterosexual norm to remain safe, apparently. Of course, Dorothy Parker said “Heterosexuality isn’t normal, it’s just common.” ;)


The Out of Towners starring Sandy Dennis and Jack Lemmon

part 1

The Out of Towners with Sandy Dennis and Jack Lemmon

part 7

Trailer for the NY set school drama-Up the Down Staircase-starring Sandy Dennis and directed by Robert Mulligan.

What’s My Line – Sandy Dennis – great interview and exchange with panel

Sandy Dennis Tribute – I loved being friends with her mom.

My favorite play, written by Edward Albee.
My favorite movie, directed by Mike Nichols.
And also, my favorite soundtrack. Composed by Alex North.
Does it get any better than this?

A look back in pictures at the life and career of the late actress Sandy Dennis. The song is “Moon River” as performed by Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”

April 27, 1937 to March 2, 1992 died at the young age of 54 in Westport, CT where I spent my youth – her death was caused by ovarian cancer.

It would not be easy for anyone to out-do one of American theater’s finest thespians, but somehow actress Sandy Dennis managed to even out-quirk the legendary Geraldine Page when it came to affecting nervous ticks and offbeat mannerisms on stage and in film. She and Page had few peers when it came to the neurotic-dispensing department. The two Actor’s Studio disciples developed fascinating characterizations that seemed to manifest themselves outwardly to such physical extremes and, like a bad car accident, their overt stylings were capable of drawing in audiences. There was no grey area. Either way, both had a searing emotional range and were undeniably transfixing figures who held up Oscar trophies to prove there was a “Method” to their respective madness. Sandy’s signature quirks — her stuttering, fluttering, throat gulps, eye twitches, nervous giggles, hysterical flailing — are all a part of what made her so distinctive and unforgettable. Her untimely death of cancer at age 54 robbed the entertainment industry of a remarkable talent.

The Nebraska-born-and-bred actress was born Sandra Dale Dennis in Hastings, on April 27, 1937, the daughter of postal clerk Jack Dennis and his secretary wife Yvonne. Living in both Kenesaw (1942) and Lincoln (1946) while growing up, she and brother Frank went to Lincoln High School with TV host Dick Cavett. Her passion for acting grew and grew while still at home. A college student at both Nebraska Wesleyan University and the University of Nebraska, she eventually found her career direction after appearing with the Lincoln Community Theater Group.

This divine actress left Nebraska and towards the Big Apple at age 19 just to try her luck. An intense student of acting guru Uta Hagen, Sandy made her New York stage debut in a Tempo Theatre production of “The Lady from the Sea” in 1956 and that same year won her first TV role as that of Alice Holden in the daytime series “Guiding Light” (1952). A year later she made it to Broadway as an understudy (and eventual replacement) for the roles of Flirt and Reenie in the William Inge drama “The Dark at the Top of the Stairs,” directed by Elia Kazan at the Music Box Theatre. She toured with that production and also found regional work in the plays “Bus Stop” and “Motel” while continuing to shine as a budding New York fixture in “Burning Bright,” “Face of a Hero” and “Port Royal”.

Along with fellow newcomers Gary Lockwood and Phyllis Diller, Sandy made her movie debut in playwright Inge’s Splendor in the Grass (1961), a movie quite welcoming of Sandy’s neurotic tendencies. In the minor but instrumental role of Kay, she is an unwitting instigator of friend Deanie’s (played by an ambitiously unbalanced Natalie Wood) mental collapse. Despite this worthy little turn, Sandy would not make another film for five years.

Instead, the actress set her sites strongly on the stage and for this she was handsomely rewarded, most notably in comedy. After appearing in a two-month run of the Graham Greene drama “The Complaisant Lover” at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in 1961, stardom would be hers the very next year with her outstanding social worker role in the lighter-weight “A Thousand Clowns”. Winning the Theatre World as well as the coveted Tony Award for her performance, she continued her run of prizes with a second consecutive Tony for her sexy turn in the comedy “Any Wednesday” (1964). Having made only one picture at this juncture, Sandy was not in a good position to transfer her award-winning characters to film and when they did, they went to Barbara Harris and Jane Fonda, respectively.

TV was also a viable medium for Sandy and she appeared sporadically on such programs as “The Fugitive,” “Naked City” and “Arrest and Trial”. In 1965, she appeared in London as Irina in a heralded Actor’s Studio production of Chekhov’s “The Three Sisters” with fellow devotees Geraldine Page, Kim Stanley, Shelley Winters, Luther Adler and Kevin McCarthy. The play was subsequently videotaped and directed by Paul Bogart, and is valuable today for the studied “Method” performances of its cast. It, however, received mixed reviews upon its release.

Returning to film in 1966, Sandy seemed to embellish every physical and emotional peculiarity she could muster for the role of the mousy wife Honey in the four-character powerhouse play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) by Edward Albee. It is a mouth-dropping, emotionally shattering performance, and both she and a more even-keeled George Segal as the dropover guests of the skewering cutthroat couple George and Martha (Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton) more than held their own. While the distaff cast won Oscars for this (Taylor for “Best Actress” and Dennis for “Best Supporting Actress”), this ferocious landmark film blew open the “Production Code” doors once and for all and a wave of counterculture filming tackling formerly taboo subjects came to be.

Firmly established now with her Oscar win, Sandy found highly affecting lead showcases for herself. She was quite memorable and won the New York Film Critics Award for her young, naive British teacher challenged by a New York “Blackboard Jungle”-like school system in Up the Down Staircase (1967). She also stirred up some controversy along with Anne Heywood playing brittle lesbian lovers whose relationship is threatened by a sexy male visitor (Keir Dullea) in another ground-breaking film The Fox (1967). Sandy remained intriguingly off-kiltered in the odd-couple romantic story Sweet November (1968) opposite Anthony Newley, the bizarre Robert Altman thriller That Cold Day in the Park (1969), and the gloomy British melodrama Thank You All Very Much (1969) [aka Thank You All Very Much].

Off-camera, Sandy lived for over a decade with jazz musician and saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, which began in 1965 following his devoted relationship with actress Judy Holliday who had died of cancer earlier in the year. They eventually parted ways in 1976. Rumors that they had married at some point were eventually negated by Sandy herself. Sandy also went on to have a May-December relationship with the equally quirky actor Eric Roberts from 1980 to 1985. She had no children.

At the peak of her film popularity, Sandy began the 1970s in more mainstream fashion. She and Jack Lemmon were another odd-couple hit in Neil Simon’s The Out of Towners (1970) as married George and Gwen Kellerman visiting an unmerciful Big Apple. Sandy is at her whiny, plain-Jane best (“Oh, my God…I think we’re being kidnapped!”) as disaster upon disaster befalls the miserable twosome. Both she and Lemmon were nominated for Golden Globes. Following this, however, Sandy again refocused on the stage with an avalanche of fine performances in “How the Other Half Loves,” “And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little,” “A Streetcar Named Desire” (as Blanche), “Born Yesterday” (as Billie Dawn), “Absurd Person Singular,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (as Maggie the Cat), “Same Time, Next Year,” “The Little Foxes,” “Eccentricities of a Nightingale,” “The Supporting Cast” and even the title role in “Peter Pan”.

A few TV and movie roles came Sandy’s way in unspectacular fashion but it wasn’t until the next decade that she again stole some thunder. After a moving support turn as a cast-off wife in the finely-tuned ensemble drama The Four Seasons (1981), Sandy proved terrific as a James Dean extremist in another ensemble film Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982), which she played first to fine acclaim on Broadway. Reunited with director Robert Altman as well as her stage compatriots Cher, Karen Black, Kathy Bates, Sudie Bond and Marta Heflin, the film version was equally praised. Her last films included Another Woman (1988), 976-EVIL (1988) and Parents (1989).

Seen less and less in later years, she gave in to her eccentric tendencies as time went on. A notorious cat lover (at one point there was a count of 33 residing in her Westport, Connecticut home), close friends included actresses Brenda Vaccaro and Jessica Walter. Her father Jack died in 1990 and around that same time Sandy was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Undergoing chemotherapy at the time she filmed the part of a beaten-down mother in Sean Penn’s The Indian Runner (1991), the role proved to be her last.

Sandy died in Westport on March 3, 1992. Her ashes were placed at the Lincoln Memorial Park in Lincoln, Nebraska. A foundation in her home state was set up to “memorialize the accomplishments of Sandy Dennis, to perpetuate her commitment to education and the performing arts, to promote cultural activities, and to encourage theatrical education, performance, and professionals”. A book, “Sandy Dennis: A Personal Memoir,” was published posthumously in 1997. Mini Biography from IMDB-By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net


A well-known cat lover.

A dedicated exponent of the ‘Method’ technique via the Actor’s Studio, her physical neuroticisms could either captivate or repel audiences.

Although she and Gerry Mulligan referred to each other as husband and wife for years, she eventually said that they had never married.

She won two consecutive Tony awards, in 1963 as Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Dramatic) for “A Thousand Clowns” and in 1964 as Best Actress (Dramatic) for “Any Wednesday,” which eventually led to her Oscar-winning film performance in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966).

Awarded the coveted Theatre World Award for best Broadway debut in 1961.

Involved with actor Eric Roberts in 1981. Her dog was riding with Roberts when he crashed his jeep into a tree in Los Angeles. Roberts was in a coma for two weeks.

She declined to appear at the Oscar ceremonies the year she won her award for “Virginia Woolf”.

She studied drama at HB Studio in Greenwich Village in New York City.

Personal Quotes

[on acting]: It isn’t like painting a picture, or writing a book. When you finish an acting stint, there’s nothing except money. You have to keep going, giving the best you’ve got, to get something intangible.

I should have kept myself blonder and thinner, but I just didn’t care enough.

I don’t really like people much. I mean, I know I should develop this passion for other people and, like, get to know them, but I couldn’t care less. – on her relationship with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton during the filming of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

Robert Altman – My Favorite Director

Robert Altman
by Noel Murray June 23, 2011
(my favorite director who created some of the best films of all times. i found this article purely by accident and needed to add it to my collection of posts so i would have it available to me and whom ever felt the same way as i do and wanted to check him and it out once and while. i’m sure i will make more comments at a later time for now i would just like to read this and add the videos that come with the article but i need to search them down. ~jen kiley~ 6.24.11 @12:57am)

Primer is The A.V. Club’s ongoing series of beginners’ guides to pop culture’s most notable subjects: filmmakers, music styles, literary genres, and whatever else interests us—and hopefully you.

In 2006, Robert Altman received a lifetime-achievement award from the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences, and when he took the stage at the Oscar ceremony, the audience members braced themselves, waiting for the often outspoken and curmudgeonly director to take a few shots at the Hollywood system or at George W. Bush. Instead, he said a gracious, heartfelt thanks, and revealed to the world that he’d been the recipient of a heart transplant a decade earlier, and therefore expected to keep directing for another 40 years. (Altman was way too optimistic; he died eight months later.) A lot of what Altman said on Oscar night—about how all his work was really one long film, and how making a film is like making a sandcastle—he’d said a thousand times before, in interviews and film-festival Q&As. But as always with Altman, the script didn’t matter as much as the performance.

Altman basked in the love and appreciation of Hollywood at the end of his life, but his career was marked by tumult and animosity, particularly between the director and his financial backers, whom he frequently disappointed both with his work and with his screw-you attitude. Altman was a notorious troublemaker all the way back to his youth in Kansas City, Missouri, and he was also known to draw creative people into his circle, become their best friend and mentor, then push them away due to some imagined slight, or because he’d gotten all he needed from them. In his personal and business life, Altman could be an exceedingly sweet man, and he could be a stone bastard. And as an artist, he sometimes lost interest in projects before they were fully complete, turning out films that felt muddled and uninspired.

But when Altman was on his game, few filmmakers were as skilled at creating a sense of place and time, or at revealing characters by immersing viewers in their worlds. He had a keen sense of wit, which struck some as misanthropic and even a little mean, but which came from a place of empathy. Altman knew what it meant to be an asshole, and he knew what it meant to be generous. He was delighted by humankind’s ability to perform amazing feats, but he also understood why people behaved abominably. Above all, Altman nurtured the idea—still under-utilized—that a filmmaker’s most important role is to get the ensemble together, then guide them gently toward whatever goal emerges. He moved his camera restlessly through his sets, not as a feat of cinematic choreography, but because he couldn’t wait to see what his casts would do next.

Robert Altman 101
It’s inaccurate to say that Robert Altman came out of nowhere with the hit 1970 war comedy MASH. Altman was 45 years old when he made MASH, and had been kicking around Hollywood since the late ’50s, when he turned a few heads with an independent B-movie he made in Kansas City. He then moved into television, and developed a reputation as one of the most inventive directors for the small screen—and one of the hardest to work with, because he was openly disrespectful to his bosses. According to Altman, when 20th Century Fox hired him to direct an adaptation of Richard Hooker’s picaresque Korean War novel MASH, he caught a break because the studio’s executives were preoccupied with Patton, their future Best Picture winner. Left alone with major studio resources—including bright young stars Donald Sutherland and Elliot Gould, playing rebellious Army doctors—Altman made his first real “Robert Altman movie,” using overlapping dialogue and a drifting camera to create the impression of real life caught in passing. MASH’s irreverence was inherent in Hooker’s novel and Ring Lardner Jr.’s screenplay, but the Altman haze made the film feel hip in an unforced way, as if someone in Hollywood had left the cameras running after “cut” had been called, and had finally shown what’s really going on.

MASH showed what Altman could do when left unfettered, and it showed there was an audience for his loose, borderline-anarchic approach to cinema. The momentum from MASH carried Altman through the next five years, during which he pumped out good-to-great movies at a fevered pace, roaring through genre revisionism, dream narratives, personal films, and grand sociopolitical statements. And yet Altman found it difficult to replicate MASH’s box-office success, in part because his subsequent work was more esoteric, and in part because he was plagued with bad luck. His melancholic Western McCabe & Mrs. Miller, for example, was marred by bad sound, as Altman went overboard with his mic-everybody-and-then-figure-it-out-in-the-mix method, leaving himself with a soundtrack in which key dialogue is frequently barely audible. Nevertheless, McCabe is nothing short of a masterpiece. It’s the story of two entrepreneurs (Warren Beatty and Julie Christie) building a town on the back of gambling and the sex trade, while sharing different ideas about “class” and human decency, and it’s about the decline of Old West values, the difference between talk and action, and the bitter, awkward pain of unrequited love.

Audiences who put in the effort to understand the dialogue and the who’s-who of the opening scenes tend to develop a deep concern for what’s going to happen to these characters, drawn in also by the snow-globe sense of delicacy of Leonard Cohen’s music and Vilmos Zsigmond’s cinematography. And Altman is clearly simpatico with the two heroes, who let the citizens of Presbyterian Church believe what they want to believe about them, so long as that earns fearful respect. Then, as often happens in Westerns, the fantasy is sidetracked by reality, as outsiders arrive to challenge the fiction.

Having bid farewell to the frontier gunman, Altman took on the private eye in 1973’s The Long Goodbye, an adaptation of a Raymond Chandler novel that Altman and screenwriter Leigh Brackett turned into a dark, funny meditation on the state of masculinity in California in the early ’70s. Elliot Gould plays Chandler’s iconic detective Philip Marlowe as a mumbling, laid-back dude in a rumpled suit, simultaneously investigating the disappearance of an alcoholic writer and the murder of a friend’s wife. Gould’s Marlowe bumps up against mobsters, self-help gurus, naked hippies, and stressed-out socialites, and has to summon up the will to effect some kind of justice in a society where the hero’s recurring line, “It’s okay with me,” has become a mantra. Altman ribs the conventions of detective films throughout—including on the soundtrack, which repeats John Williams’ brassy theme in increasingly cheesier styles—but the core of Chandler is still here, making The Long Goodbye one of the most accessible, plot-driven movies in the Altman catalog.

Altman wasn’t one for grand statements with his movies, preferring to orchestrate small moments of human interaction, then stitch them together until he ran out of material. But with 1975’s Nashville, Altman stumbled into an epic. Screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury researched Music City on an assignment from Altman, and came back with anecdotes about Southern culture, backroom politics, and the country-music star system, which Altman then busied himself trying to recreate on film. In the process, he solicited significant input from his cast, who also wrote a lot of their own songs. The bicentennial spirit of the era and the advent of post-Watergate political candidates also found their way into Nashville, such that, almost without meaning to, Altman wound up making a nearly three-hour State Of The Union address, commenting on celebrity, community, and the constantly shifting ideals to which we pledge allegiance.

Country-music fans—and some pop-music critics—found the film insulting, but many of them were examining Nashville from the wrong angle. Though Altman and Tewkesbury included characters clearly based on Loretta Lynn, Roy Acuff, Charley Pride, and others, their intent wasn’t to spoof the genre or pay homage to it. The songs—sometimes funny, sometimes sweet—are an expression of the characters’ feelings, and not necessarily indicative of the filmmakers’ opinions of the music. Nashville isn’t a documentary; it’s an exaggeration of America circa 1975, and one that illuminates by highlighting our common naïveté and shrewdness, our decency and shittiness.

Altman found Nashville hard to top, and due to some bad business decisions—and bad behavior—spent much of the next 15 years on the outs in Hollywood, often making movies with small casts and minuscule budgets. Then, out of the blue, he made a Robert Altman film again. Michael Tolkin’s novel The Player is a sly murder mystery that doubles as an indictment of Hollywood executives who believe themselves to be more brilliant than any of the writers, directors, or stars they employ. Altman’s version of the story—from Tolkin’s screenplay—downplays the crime-and-punishment angle and just romps through Los Angeles in the early ’90s, with dozens of big-name stars playing “themselves” as they interact with a slick, morally bankrupt exec played by Tim Robbins. The Player is full of inside-Hollywood jokes that, much like MASH, are funny because they feel more bracingly honest than the usual backstage comedy. Altman’s vision of Hollywood doesn’t have bustling studio back lots and fast-talking big-shots; it has businessmen bullshitting each other in glorified suburban office-parks. And yet Altman also shows how fun movies can be, whether he’s engineering a lengthy tracking shot, playing with color and shadow, or demonstrating how a genuine star can light up the screen.

Ironically, the Hollywood-skewering The Player made Altman viable in the movie business again, and he took advantage of the renewed interest from backers and actors to realize a long-gestating dream project: an adaptation of multiple Raymond Carver short stories that Altman dubbed Short Cuts. Altman made a couple of Nashville-esque multi-character films in the late ’70s—A Wedding and Health—but those took place in more constrained locations. Short Cuts really was like Nashville West, right down to the three-hour length, the sprawling Los Angeles setting, and the climactic “event” that binds a group of otherwise disconnected storylines. Unlike Nashville, though, Short Cuts feels way too predetermined, since it’s following Carver’s outlines rather than letting the individual characters develop organically. Plus, Nashville was more comic and thus more flexible, while the melodramatic stories of Short Cuts—involving marital discord, substance abuse, and tragic death—are occasionally undone by inadequate performances. Still, the filmmaking is frequently beautiful and moving, and it’s heartening even now to see a director of normally modest ambitions grab at something big. (Since then, the “everything’s connected” film has become an indie staple, from Magnolia to Crash to Babel and beyond, so Short Cuts is significant in that way, too.)

After the powerful one-two of The Player and Short Cuts, Altman seemed on pace to play out the rest of the ’90s the way he had the ’70s, helming three consecutive films that underperformed at the box office and with the critics. But then he had a surprise arthouse hit with 1999’s Cookie’s Fortune, a muted Southern small-town dramedy in which the death of a rich old woman uncovers some unexpected truths among the people she left behind. Altman treated Anne Rapp’s screenplay more respectfully than he’d treated writers in the past, making a movie that adheres to convention more than usual. Cookie’s Fortune still has its Altman-y quirks—an unhurried pace chief among them—but the well-rounded characters and straightforward plot resonated with audiences, who weren’t being kept at arm’s length by Altman for a change.

Two years later, Altman had an even bigger hit with Gosford Park, a British drawing-room mystery. Again, Altman mainly just filmed Julian Fellowes’ script rather than deconstructing it, though he allowed his all-star cast of UK and American stars some leeway to express the story’s aristocrats-vs.-servants dynamic through subtle gestures, and he did hold to his aesthetic of drifting cameras and naturalistic chatter. Gosford Park is sophisticated in the best traditions of Altman and English drama, and a fine example of Altman in his final years, as he imposed himself on the material less and instead sat back and watched with infectious amusement.

Intermediate work
Because Altman was so prolific for so long, he produced well-loved American classics seemingly every few years, but surrounded those films with frustrating complete misses, fascinating near-misses, and excellent films that fell through the cracks. The 1970 comedy Brewster McCloud is one of the fascinating near-misses. Critics and audiences were poised to see what the man who made MASH would do next, and he and screenwriter Doran William Cannon confounded them with an overstuffed, hyper-whimsical riff on The Wizard Of Oz, starring Bud Cort as a troubled young man who lives in the Houston Astrodome and busies himself making homemade wings. The movie is as big of a mess as the bird-shit that keeps splattering the characters, but it keeps firing gags and ideas at an impressive clip, throwing in Michael Murphy as a parody of the badass detective one minute and Sally Kellerman as a fairy godmother the next. All of this was too much even for the open-minded cinephiles of 1970, and it didn’t help that the world première was held at the Astrodome, where the bad acoustics reportedly made Altman’s overlapping dialogue incomprehensible. Brewster McCloud was dubbed a disaster before it even got a release.

Brewster’s failure set the tone for Altman’s career in the ’70s, as bad luck, bad timing, and miscalculations led to some of his best films—and some of the best films of the decade—coming and going with not enough notice paid. In 1974 in particular, Altman helmed two masterful films that sank with little trace, and were even unavailable on home video until fairly recently. Thieves Like Us came out in 1974, toward the end of the Bonnie And Clyde-inspired Depression-era-crooks-on-the-run wave, and though Altman’s take on the genre was one of the smartest—and most authentic, given that it was derived from the same Edward Anderson novel that inspired Nicholas Ray’s classic noir They Live By Night—a general feeling of fatigue with bank-robbers in fedoras limited the movie’s box-office prospects. Too bad, since it’s an easy film to like, with appealing lead performances by Keith Carradine and Shelley Duvall as a couple too young and stupid to be tied up with their band of criminals, and with a clever stylistic conceit that sees Altman using vintage radio broadcasts on the soundtrack in place of original music, letting old-timey serial adventures comment on the action.

Later in 1974, Altman was back with California Split, a collaboration with writer Joseph Walsh, starring George Segal and Elliott Gould as gambling addicts on an epic bender, goosing each other to make stupider and stupider decisions. It’s a funny, smart, and true ode to male friendship at its most poisonous, and a fabulous document of gambling life in Los Angeles and Reno in the early ’70s. And as with Thieves Like Us, California Split features some of Altman’s most accessible storytelling and poetic images. (All this with the following year’s Nashville waiting in the wings; add in 1973’s The Long Goodbye and that’s one amazing four-film run.)

Nashville briefly put Altman back in the good graces of critics and audiences, becoming his biggest hit and strongest Oscar contender since MASH, but then he immediately squandered much of that goodwill with Buffalo Bill And The Indians, Or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson, an unfocused historical comedy starring Paul Newman as a Wild West Show impresario who has trouble when his American Indian cast members begin conspiring to correct the historical record. Based on an Arthur Kopit play, Buffalo Bill has a terrific premise and some funny performances on the margins, but it feels rushed and under-realized. It’s enjoyable, but nettlesome for the way Altman squanders so much potential.

This would be a recurring theme for Altman in the second half of the ’70s. According to Patrick McGilligan’s critical biography Robert Altman: Jumping Off The Cliff, the director started believing in the sheer force of his creative ability to bring shape to the shapeless, embarking on half-realized projects while still distracted by his troubles with the previous ones. Consider the origins of the 1978 ensemble comedy A Wedding: According to Altman (not always a reliable historian on these matters), the movie was born spontaneously, when a reporter asked him what he was working on next and off the top of his head he said he was going to make a movie with twice as many characters as Nashville, set at a wedding. He then rose to his own challenge, assembling an all-star cast for a sprawling slice of life that’s generally pleasant, though lacking Nashville’s depth and insight. The movie’s biggest problem is that with so many characters in play, Altman doesn’t have time to give any of them their due beyond brief glimpses of their respective secrets. Still, Altman’s instincts were true when he realized that a wedding would be a great way to study a society in miniature, and a lot of his original inspiration survives in the finished film.

Altman was much more on-point with 1979’s A Perfect Couple, which may be the most unjustly ignored entry in his whole catalog. Co-written with Allan F. Nicholls (who also worked on A Wedding), A Perfect Couple is a keenly focused, breezy Los Angeles romantic comedy, with Paul Dooley as a flustered antique heir and Marta Heflin as a dissatisfied backup singer in a communal rock band. The style is surprisingly plain for Altman—there aren’t many roaming cameras, or much overlapping dialogue—but the honest, hopeful sketch of how people juggle life and art is light and lovely, enhanced by laid-back West Coast rock (also co-written by Nicholls). Its closest match tonally in the Altman filmography would be 2003’s The Company, which is also as interested in the values of collaboration and performance as it is in telling a story.

Even Altman’s superb post-Nashville films had trouble finding an audience, and whatever momentum he’d had at the start of the ’70s fully stalled by the end of the decade. His run as a big-time, big-studio filmmaker effectively ended in 1980 with the comic-strip adaptation Popeye, a holiday family film that was actually a substantial box-office hit at home and worldwide, but acquired a reputation as a bomb because it wasn’t what anyone expected in the age of the blockbuster. Altman shackled frenetic stand-up sensation Robin Williams in a role that required him to freeze his face and mutter, while Jules Feiffer’s screenplay hewed closer to the eccentric seaside adventures of E.C. Segar’s Thimble Theatre strip than the boisterousness of the well-loved Fleischer Studios cartoons, and Harry Nilsson’s song-score was more lilting and dreamy than snappy. In other words: Popeye wasn’t the obvious crowd-pleaser that Superman had been two years earlier. No matter; it’s still a charmer, with as rich a sense of place as McCabe & Mrs. Miller, and a sidemouth wit to rival MASH.

Popeye is the only straight-up song-and-dance musical in the Altman library, though music plays such a major role in so many of his movies that a lot of them could be called “backdoor musicals.” Case in point: Kansas City, a 1996 historical drama about the intersection of jazz bands, criminals, politicians, and rich folk in mid-’30s K.C. There’s very little plot to the film—it mostly has to do with gun-moll Jennifer Jason Leigh kidnapping socialite Miranda Richardson in hopes of getting her husband back from mob boss Harry Belafonte—but Altman seems more interested in shooting the musicians who appear onstage at the local nightclub, as well as revisiting the city he grew up in.

As he moved toward the end of his career, Altman increasingly showed less and less interest in narrative convention—and he was never much of a story man to begin with. When he agreed to direct John Grisham’s original script The Gingerbread Man—with Kenneth Branagh as an abrasive Savannah attorney who helps a woman find her insane father and her missing children—he rewrote extensively, making the hero gruffer and dispensing with most of the courtroom business, treating the resolution of the movie’s mysteries as an afterthought. But for those more interested in hanging out in Altman-ville than in Grisham-land, The Gingerbread Man is another of his invaluable late-period films with a masterful command of place and behavior.

It’s also fitting that Altman ended his career with a movie that’s nearly all “hanging out,” with very little “getting somewhere.” A Prairie Home Companion turns Garrison Keillor’s popular public-radio variety show into a paean to show business as a lifestyle, and a farewell to it as well. But Altman and Keillor do their best to strip the goodbye of sentiment: “The death of an old man is not a tragedy” is both a line in the film and its overarching meaning. Altman wasn’t the easiest nut to crack, as a person. He was always willing to talk to reporters, but rarely willing to say much, and he tended to fall back on well-worn phrases and shtick in his promotional guise. His movies are far richer than his stock ways of describing them. The final Altman films—Gosford Park, The Company, and A Prairie Home Companion—are as alive as any in his filmography, and blessed with patience, as Altman shrugs off the rush of most movie storytelling and just marvels at the great gifts of actors, singers, dancers, and comics while trying to match their simple virtuosity with his own.

Advanced studies
Just as Altman followed MASH with the even crazier Brewster McCloud, so he moved from the impressionistic McCabe & Mrs. Miller to the downright surreal Images, a spare 1972 thriller starring Susannah York as a children’s-book author who begins to doubt certain aspects of her reality, like her husband’s fidelity, or whether she even is whom she believes herself to be. Perched halfway between Roman Polanski and Ingmar Bergman, Images isn’t a wholly successful exercise, largely because Altman doesn’t have any clear destination in mind beyond the premise. But Vilmos Zsigmond’s cinematography is gorgeous, and John Williams’ score—supplemented by the work of Stomu Yamashta—is suitably haunting, making Images an unsettling experience.

Like Images, 1977’s 3 Women breaks from Altman’s shaggy genre revisions and American tableaux to indulge a little “you know what would be heavy?” experimentation. The storyline actually came to Altman in a dream, and he fills the film with askew imagery, often filtered through water or reflected in mirrors and cloaked in gaudy shades of yellow and purple. Sissy Spacek stars as a mousy young woman who takes a job at a California desert health spa, where she latches onto self-absorbed fashion victim Shelley Duvall and soon becomes a more confident, popular version of her hapless idol. The movie is a superb actors’ showcase, with Spacek’s Texas meekness and Duvall’s chatterbox gawkiness playing off each other in a way that’s both theatrical and real. And before it gets metaphysical, 3 Women is loaded with funny, well-observed moments, such as Duvall’s recipe for “Penthouse Chicken,” which requires a “a can of tomato soup… it takes a whole hour to cook, but it’s worth it.” Though self-consciously arty, 3 Women is a more fluid Bergman riff than what Woody Allen was coming up with around the time, mainly because Altman’s emphasis on abandoned tourist traps and singles’ apartment complexes rivals his equally neglected California Split as a vivisection of ’70s West Coast banality.

Before staging a comeback in the ’90s with movies like The Player and Short Cuts, Altman spent a decade in the margins, making filmed plays and TV specials. He started strong, with the 1982 adaptation of Ed Graczyk’s play Come Back To The Five And Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, which he also directed onstage. Defying the usual call to “open up” a play by setting the action in a bunch of different locations, Altman keeps Come Back To The Five And Dime stagebound, moving the camera inventively through a confined space as the characters share stories about their lives (and their love of James Dean). Altman followed the same model with his 1983 version of David Rabe’s Streamers, about soldiers preparing to ship out to Vietnam. And Altman’s 1985 adaptation of Sam Shepard’s play Fool For Love is magnificently imagined from a visual standpoint, as the director restlessly picks over a neon-lit motel set, staging flashbacks in the same frame as the present action while exploring the sexual frustration of two lovers who shouldn’t be together. All three films miss the tension of live performance, but they have a dreamy quality that marks them as cinematic, albeit in a stunted way.

The peak of Altman’s filmed-play period isn’t a play at all; it’s 1984’s Secret Honor, a one-man-show starring Philip Baker Hall as a post-presidency Richard Nixon, delivering a long, conspiratorial rant into his tape recorder. Part history and part alternate-history, Secret Honor’s script—by Donald Freed and Arnold M. Stone—is as savvy and insider-y about executive-branch politics as Altman’s earlier films are about the military and the music business. Stylistically, Altman treats the material in much the same way as he did Come Back To The Five And Dime and Streamers, making maximum use of a minimal setting by showing how even in a world suddenly shrunken by circumstance, there’s plenty to examine.

Two years before Altman’s “comeback” movie The Player, he made a preliminary comeback with Vincent & Theo, a biopic starring Tim Roth as Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Rhys as his brother/art-dealer. Originally a four-hour BBC production, Vincent & Theo was cut nearly in half for theatrical distribution, and became Altman’s first movie to get significant play since Popeye. It’s a fairly sober film by Altman standards, but screenwriter Julian Mitchell emphasized how it feels for an artist to toil in obscurity, which clearly resonated with the director. And Altman paid special attention to the sequences of Roth’s Van Gogh at work, contrasting the arduous process of creation with the flippancy of critics and art-dealers.

Altman was met with that kind of flippancy throughout his career, and sometimes with good reason. But sometimes his harshest critics missed the boat, as was the case with the 2000 comedy Dr. T & The Women, which received confused or hostile reviews from those who expected Altman and screenwriter Anne Rapp to repeat the relaxed, accessible mode of their Cookie’s Fortune. Though Dr. T is another Southern-set movie about an interconnected community—all revolving around a Dallas gynecologist played by Richard Gere—it ranges into Altman’s version of dreamland, thanks to the literal and metaphorical storm that threatens the wedding of Dr. T’s daughter. The movie is also wacky, as the hero’s assortment of female patients, assistants, and relations talk over and around each other, driving the doctor to distraction. Dr. T & The Women is hardly a neglected masterpiece, but it’s full of life and imagination, and funny to boot.

The Company, on the other hand, is a neglected masterpiece. Producer/star Neve Campbell dramatized life in Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet; Altman purged the film of almost all story, and made something as much documentary as drama, with more time devoted to onstage performance than to backstage machinations. The Company isn’t immediately recognizable as an Altman film. Yes, it’s loose, and yes, it has some of his signature overlapping dialogue and vivid improvisation, as well as his tendency to overuse a piece of score (the song “My Funny Valentine” in this case). But it’s practically devoid of his acid wit or cynicism. Only Malcolm McDowell’s performance as company director Alberto Antonelli has any substantial bite: He blows into scenes like a strong wind, barks a few orders seemingly off the top of his head, then leaves the movie to continue on in its low key. Otherwise, Altman is surprisingly respectful to this community of artists, maintaining such a nonjudgmental spirit that he even allows the more ridiculous dance pieces to pass without comment. Altman shoots the ballet from a variety of angles, keeping the camera moving without obscuring the dancers’ motion. Performers step in, performers step out, minor details are fretted over, all while McDowell’s “Mr. A.” prompts, meddles, and checks out the results. Altman’s almost wide-eyed approach to The Company may be attributable to his excitement at finding a perfect, unforced metaphor for his own philosophy of artistic endeavor—a “funny valentine” to the work he loves.

When Robert Altman accepted his lifetime achievement Academy Award, he described his filmography as “one long film,” adding, “Some of you have liked some of the sections, and others… anyway, it’s all right.” Describing Altman’s filmography as “checkered” is an understatement. Besides unprofitability, the major downside to Altman’s “let’s just see what happens” working method was that sometimes nothing happened. He’d gather a cast, shoot for a month, then get into the editing room and have to work very hard to salvage something out of very little. (And according to many of Altman’s colleagues, he didn’t like to work that hard.) It’s hard to call any Altman feature a straight-up “demerit” to his career, because he often hit some bum notes on his way to something sublime. Plus, polling any random assortment of Altman-philes will reveal that someone will always stand up for the unloved, contending that the 1968 astronaut drama Countdown contains some nicely naturalistic men-at-work scenes between the rote suspense sequences. Or that 1969’s That Cold Day In The Park sports a dreamy mood and some striking Vancouver location footage; or that the 1985 teen comedy O.C. & Stiggs subverts the genre cleverly. Or that the 1987 adaptation of Christopher Durang’s play Beyond Therapy is amiably kooky. (Heck, read the sections above, and you may even find some loon willing to defend The Gingerbread Man and Dr. T And The Women.) If all art is just an expression of who the artist is at any given time, then the sublimely screwed-up lesser Altmans are as much works of art as any of his masterpieces.

That said, there are a small handful of Altman films that should be at the bottom of any newcomer’s to-watch list, starting with The James Dean Story, a documentary Altman made with George W. George soon after arriving in California in 1957. Consisting of public-domain footage, interviews with distant relations and acquaintances, and what the opening crawl boldly proclaims as “dynamic exploration of the still photograph,” The James Dean Story is a callow cash-in noteworthy mainly for extending Altman’s early interest in rebellious young folks.

It’s also probably a good idea to wait a bit on Quintet, a hazy 1979 Paul Newman science-fiction vehicle about a deadly dice game played by the inhabitants of an icy post-apocalyptic wasteland. The film attempts to work straight from the subconscious in the manner of Altman dream-dramas like Images and 3 Women, and also tries to squeeze in Altman’s lifelong obsession with games. But even with the eye-catching end-of-the-world production design, Quintet is too sleepy and attenuated to overcome its confusing plot. Poor Newman counted himself as one of Altman’s biggest boosters, but when they worked together, the actor was left at sea.

That experience was relatively common for Altman’s casts. Actors loved him for the freedom and creative input he allowed them, but a few times when he tried to throw what critic Pauline Kael once termed “an Altman party” onscreen, he ended up with a troupe of distinguished thespians filling up cartoon balloons and throwing them at each other. Both 1980’s Health and 1994’s Prêt-à-Porter, for example, have fleeting moments where a few members of their all-star casts click and make it seem like Altman really has something to say about the politics of trade conventions and fashion shows. But the movies are frustrating on the whole, because it’s clear that Altman is hoping the old Nashville magic will reappear without him having to assert himself too much.

Altman had a cup of coffee in Hollywood (working as a screenwriter and bit-player) after he got out of the Army at the end of World War II, but his first real show-business experience came back home in Kansas City, where he worked for The Calvin Company writing and directing industrial and educational films. Colleagues who worked with Altman at the time have said that he was one of the best in the business, always thinking of a clever twist on the material whether he was making a film about sports or tractors. Altman brought his crew and some of his most reliable actors with him when he made The Delinquents for an independent producer in the summer of 1956. Story-wise, Altman doesn’t add much new to the youth-gone-wild genre, but the movie’s party scenes have the ring of truth, and Altman’s dynamic camera moves show some of the artistry that impressed his Calvin cohorts.

Emboldened by his peers’ praise, Altman returned to California in 1957 to shop The Delinquents around, and though the studios didn’t snap him up right away, he did draw a steady paycheck directing television. (“I did miles of television,” Altman told The A.V. Club back in 2006.) Between his first episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents in 1957 and his last episode of Kraft Suspense Theater in 1964—after which he burned his last bridge in the business by calling Kraft’s shows “as bland as its cheese” in a TV Guide interview—Altman helmed around 100 hours of TV, from big-name shows like Bonanza to obscurities like Whirlybirds. It would be a mistake to discount that TV work, which in many ways represents Altman at his purest, finding a way to impart three-dimensionality to some of the most conventional scripts he’d ever film. Even the critics of the time took special note of Altman’s work on shows like Bus Stop, an episodic adaptation of William Inge’s stage play, about the people who pass through a Colorado diner. Altman was even singled out by the U.S. Congress when his episode “A Lion Walks Among Us” pushed the boundaries of violence on television.

Altman himself called his work on the war drama Combat! as good as his feature films. Producer Robert Blees hired Altman to direct every other episode of the 1962-63 season, but the deal fell through when Blees and Altman were fired partway through the 32-episode run. But though he only directed 10 episodes, Altman did a lot to establish Combat!’s focus on vital moral dilemmas and finely shaded performances. Each episode carved World War II into small crises, usually with one or two U.S. troops and a handful of Germans locked in a moment of stalemate. Then Altman carved those moments into micro-moments, noting how the men slip purification tablets into their canteens, or how a floating corpse hampers a swim to safety. The production values (and Robert Hauser’s cinematography) are movie-quality, making Combat! a strong link between one of its chief cinematic inspirations, Paths Of Glory, and one of its obvious cinematic followers, Saving Private Ryan. Altman’s episodes look fantastic, marked by tight framing, fluid camera moves, and layers of smoke. Like most of the Combat! brain trust, Altman used WWII as a backdrop for stories of soldiers lost in an ethical soup, as seen in his signature episodes “Forgotten Front,” in which a squad has to decide how to dispatch a friendly German prisoner, and “Survival,” in which star Vic Morrow gets shell-shocked and caught behind enemy lines.

After his late-’70s flameout in Hollywood, Altman found work back on the small screen, making arty little playlets like Rattlesnake In A Cooler, The Laundromat, and The Dumb Waiter, often for public TV or pay cable. Like the majority of Altman’s ’80s films, his ’80s TV work is creditable, but often missing an element or two that would elevate it to the level of a Nashville or a Combat! The major exception: Tanner ’88, a semi-improvised HBO series Altman collaborated on with Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, about a Democratic presidential candidate (played by Altman regular Michael Murphy) stumping through the primaries. Mixing actual documentary footage with a incisive backstage look at the campaigning process, Tanner ’88 works as satire as well as slice-of life—as does its 2004 sequel, Tanner On Tanner, which is about the compromises of making films about politicians. (Altman completists should also take a look at The Caine Mutiny Court Martial, a fairly straightforward 1988 take on the Herman Wouk classic, and Gun, a short-lived 1997 ABC anthology series that Altman produced.)

Throughout his career, Altman repeatedly returned to movies about music, a subject that suited his from-the-gut, improvisational style. Unlike other directors of his era, Altman never really leapt into making music videos, though he did shoot a few clips for the Scopitone company ColorSonics in the mid-’60s, and he did contribute a segment to the 1987 opera/cinema hybrid Aria. Altman also directed the opera McTeague and the jazz revue Black And Blue, both onstage and for PBS, and he made one of his rare forays into straight documentary with Jazz ’34, a look at the music featured in Kansas City, a movie drawn from his own memories of the era.

The Essentials
1. Nashville
This is the movie everyone points to—or should—when trying to define the term “Altman-esque.” The overlapping dialogue, the crowded cast of characters, the reflection of real life through the filter of comic exaggeration… it’s all here, in a film that’s also shocking, moving, sad, funny, and catchy. It’s a reflection of how influential Altman was in the ’70s that even mainstream Hollywood films like Jaws aped Altman’s tone and style between the action sequences. Nashville is a prime example of how Altman set a high bar that other filmmakers felt obliged to reach.

2. McCabe & Mrs. Miller
Altman tried his hand at nearly every possible cinematic genre during his long career, and along the way delivered the best film of the revisionist-Western wave of the late ’60s and early ’70s: a deep story about the price of progress, playing against a bittersweet love story.

3. The Player
Later in life, Altman seemed to resent his greatest successes like MASH, Nashville, and The Player, because he felt like what the critics saw in those films, they should’ve been seeing in his bombs as well. He had a point there, and yet The Player is so much more vibrant and entertaining than the movies Altman had been making in the decade prior. It was a good introduction to Altman for young film buffs in the early ’90s, and it’s a good intro now.

4. Tanner ’88
Even when he was cranking out hourlong TV episodes by the week in the ’50s and ’60s, Altman liked to find ways to move the camera, because he always argued that a moving camera gives a space three-dimensionality, and turns theater into cinema. His work in that era has been undervalued from an auteurist perspective, but in terms of overall quality, the best way to approach Altman as a television director is to start with this HBO miniseries, which applies his TV style to material that bears his personality.

5. The Company
So many ’70s Altman films qualify as essential that it may seem perverse to bypass them in favor of one of his late-period trifles, but there’s just something profound about The Company, in which Altman lets a troupe of artists explain who he is with minimum interference from the man himself. There isn’t much to The Company, but if you love the director and what he stands for—or you just like watching professionals at work—the movie is a little gift.

Somewhere In Time



This post-scribe was created by jen kiley out of love for those that have lost their lives and now are forever gone and forever young and for those who have lost loved ones beyond their control and feel a deep primal sense of loss as if their loved ones were dead but are just away for a very long time. measuring time by the minutes, days, weeks, months and years does not feel like it brings you close to your destination because it is not here until the time arrives and you are reunited together again.

Funeral Blues
by, W.H. Auden


Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Four Weddings and a Funeral
This first part of the W.H.Auden’s Poem “Funeral Blues” was read at the only funeral in the film. It was moving then and remains so today. Recently a close friend died and I have been feeling her absence quite deeply. In 2 minutes it marks the anniversary, also, of the loss of the best psychotherapist with whom I’ve ever worked. If you are familiar with my post-scribing you will be aware that I have been grieving her loss for exactly 6 months as of June 23, 2011. You would also know that the APA (American Psychological Association) has a barbaric system that prevents a client and a therapist from having any contact for two years from the time of their last session. My pain is of a mental, emotional and physical culmination of touching on the door to madness and wondering if someone from the other side will open it and invite me in or I will be rejected and continue suffering until what is left of our probation has passed and we are able to reunite in friendship and be able to talk and hug and smile together because we will be able to be together in a warm friendship that I feel will be quite satisfying. We are connected from a past time. If you believe in reincarnation I would gather that we knew one another in times before now and we were close and ripped apart then also. It seems to be a trend in my life. The only person who has been a constant in my life is my loving companion of over 30 years. She has endured a great deal living with me but we are finding the new diagnosis of manic-depression that has actually been around for most of my life, but only recently acknowledged, has erupted like Mount Vesuvius into an overwhelming manic state that goes in and out of mania and suicidal depression since my therapist left me. S. has accepted me no matter what turn my mental states decide to head and they have been in every direction from up to down and sideways and forward. My childhood and my adulthood tore my life to shreds and living with S. has been my saving grace. Without her I never would have survived.

(As spoken by a woman to the woman of her dreams.)
“The woman of my dreams has almost faded now… The one I have created in my mind. The sort of woman each woman dreams of, in the deepest and most secret natures of her heart. I can almost see her now before me. What would I say to her. If she were really here. Forgive me. I’ve never known this feeling. I’ve lived without it all my life. Is it any wonder then I fail to recognize you. You brought it to me for the first time. Is there any way that I can tell you how my life has changed. Any way at all to let you know what sweetness you have given me. There is so much to say. I can not find the words except for these: I Love You. And that’s what I would say to her if she were really here.”

(As spoken by a man to the love of his life.)
The man of my dreams has almost faded now. The one I have created in my mind. The sort of man each man dreams of, in the deepest and most secret reaches of his heart. I can almost see him now before me. What would I say to him if he were really here? “Forgive me. I have never known this feeling. I have lived without it all my life. Is it any wonder, then, I failed to recognize you? You, who brought it to me for the first time. Is there any way that I can tell you how my life has changed? Any way at all to let you know what sweetness you have given me? There is so much to say. I cannot find the words. Except for these: I love you”. Such would I say to him if he were really here.

(And as spoken by Elise McKenna to Richard Collier in the film “Somewhere In Time.)
The man of my dreams has almost faded now. The one I have created in my mind. The sort of man each woman dreams of, in the deepest and most secret reaches of her heart. I can almost see him now before me. What would I say to him if he were really here? “Forgive me. I have never known this feeling. I have lived without it all my life. Is it any wonder, then, I failed to recognize you? You, who brought it to me for the first time. Is there any way that I can tell you how my life has changed? Any way at all to let you know what sweetness you have given me? There is so much to say. I cannot find the words. Except for these: I love you”. Such would I say to him if he were really here.

The words Elise spoke in a secret message to Richard as he sat in the audience.

Now somehow I do not feel a straight man would speak these lines but I guess that is my prejudice. If I am wrong I apologize but he would have to be a really sensitive straight man.

This is the most romantic passage from the film “Somewhere In Time” spoken by Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour) to Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve.) He is sitting in the audience and she goes off script and speaks directly to him while all around in the audience are oblivious except William Fawcett Robinson (Christopher Plummer), who wants Richard gone. He feels that he will ruin her life and I think there is more than just professional concern on his part.

(The most romantic love story of all time. The opinion of this writer Jen Kiley.)

Young writer Richard Collier is met on the opening night of his first play by an old lady who begs him to “Come back to me”. Mystified, he tries to find out about her, and learns that she is a famous stage actress from the early 1900s, Elise McKenna. Becoming more and more obsessed with her, he manages, by self hypnosis, to travel back in time where he meets her. They fall in love, a matching that is not appreciated by her manager. Can their love outlast the immense problems caused by their “time” difference? And can Richard remain in a time that is not his?

♫ Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini”

The relationship develops between Elise and Richard is powerful.
Have you wanted someone so much in your life that you feel you cannot breathe without them???

SPOILER ALERT: Somewhere in time

Somewhere In Time (Original Sound Track)

Somewhere In Time (Piano with Film Footage)

Maksim – Somewhere in Time

the post was created and scribed by jen kiley. it is our most loving film. we have seen more times then is possible to remember. i have been lucky to experience the feeling of this kind of love. it is all consuming fire. it takes your breath away. You are so in love and the world around you disappears when you are in this state of everlasting passionate and all consuming love. there is nothing that can take you higher. no drug is as good or could ever compare.

this last one is for me and the heart break i have been feeling most of my life. it was born to me or i was born to it. do you realize how much i miss you and want you close to me. will it ever happen again. i am heartbroken from losing you. and my friend you had to die when that was not meant to be and how will i go on without our guidance for the other???

forever young

forever young
content and captions created and written by jen kiley

photographs and lyrics not owned by creator of post.

Title: Forever Young
Artist: Alphaville
Visitors: 44322 Forever Young since June 03, 2010.

spaulding gray-walked off a boat into the oblivion-the pain became too much

there was no way of knowing his heart would explode???

casual about death but still gone forever. what is it about pain that claims so many souls???

alain fournier-b. 11.5,1943 - d. 8.14,2000-lymphoma-daughter ariel-impressionistic graphics-real visual phenomenon--died young-born in lyon, france moved to canada-studied computer science-died in vancouver at the age of 56

kurt cobain-i am an artist that uses words and music and the visual to express myself-but i hardly knew him yet was so saddened by his suicide and grieved his loss-my therapist could not even understand my feelings and now my partner does not get it-i think i felt a kinship with him-i knew his kind of pain-wanting and attempting to kill myself several times and in my thoughts all the time-it holds some kind of fascination and comfort to know there is always that way out

michael jackson-no explanation needed-so many masks

it gets better-just wait for it

Monday: 6.30.11 @4:13am

feeling extremely depressed. what is it about? I’m up all day or at least manically busy. s. loses it on me when I am not able to comprehend in my overloaded mind her newly designing web page. we argued. are they really suppose to be good for you??? arguments, that is???

heath ledger who-died-young all heartbroken

heath ledger-why so tortured-what was his hurry that day

heath-i can't quit you

I certainly don’t feel that way at the time. all I want is m. to come back and be my therapist again. I need her centeredness and guidance. it is a circus and fun and emotionally dynamic with d. but I need the calm of m. and the love I feel with her. I feel the friendship with d. but I want the security of the being there got me so that I can count on her. I need her strength.

lifehouse – broken heart

virginia woolf-geniuses who kill themselves

natasha-a talent lost needlessly

natasha-richardson-a headache-then gone-rip

is it ever going to be possible to see her again. I am never going to let go of her. Never. Ever.i just want to die if I knew there would never be another time when m. and i will be together in any way that is possible for both of us. I want to love her and feel intimacy but not sexual just closeness. please come back to me m. I need you.


one word - marilyn

two words - needed attention

five words-marilyn needed to be loved

please ask the goddess for her to enable us to see one another this week or sooner. but in a good way. I haven’t checked to see how many days we have remaining on our barbaric punishment of probation. we never were sexual nor do we intend to be sexual. i know that all i want from you is to be able to love you and experience the devilish behavior we share together and the tenderness we can feel for each other. most of all i need our hugs. they are the best of spending time together.

dominque dunne-murdered by stalker-forever young

tupac shakur-assassinated

jesse james shot in the back by a trusted coward

aaliyah-and who trusts planes

diana should still be with us but she was tormented

carole lombard-wrong mountain-right lover-wrong plane crash

judy garlard-we all know the system killed her

we could do Reiki together too and meditate. it’s just not the same. i just want to make myself bleed. why my mind goes there i don’t completely understand but i want to take a knife and open up my veins to bleed.

kurt cobain in concert unplugged

kurt cobain found several days after suicide

i want the pain to go away. and my psychiatrist doesn’t think i am manic-depressive. i’m all over the place with my emotions. i almost called the suicide hot line. i’ve never done that. i usually write to my therapist or call her on the phone but she has been sick for almost 2 weeks. i’ve only missed 2 sessions but it may be 2 more this week. all i have to go out for is dr. j. for chiropractic adjustments. he’s a poet and we love to talk to each other.

actor gig young murdered woman shot himself

edgar allen poe manic-depressive slow suicide


we share a lot in interest from writing to films to current events plus my emotional and psychological state which effects my body which has been feeling a great deal of pain lately. now my psych wants to cut back my clonazepam to 3 pills a day from 4 when my doc told her i need to be on 4. panic and the m/d give me chest pain and clonazepam is the only thing that gives me relief.

christine chubbuck newscaster killed self on air

buddy holly-wrong night-wrong plane

brittany murphy-slowly put to death by whom???

brandon lee the crow-fly high man

brandis died forever young a super-genius on sea quest

writing calms me down. it always seems to do that. i work it out on the page what’s possessing my mind. i’m still depressed but more in some sort of focus. i think i’ll find another song to add to this post.

Remembering Jonathan Brandis

Anna Nicole Smith-suicide while in love after marrying up

Adolf Hitler looks f@#king mean

lord byron-out on the edge and out of control

lady lazarus
by sylvia plath

Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I’ve a call.

It’s easy enough to do it in a cell.
It’s easy enough to do it and stay put.
It’s the theatrical

Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:

john lennon ripped away so young

princess diana when she was still young at heart

emily dickinson rumored manic-depressive died young and agoraphobic

‘A miracle!’
That knocks me out.
There is a charge

For the eyeing my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart—
It really goes.

And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood

600 suicide jumps love undefiled

a good read for those who die young from one who did

stephen fry manic-depressive-well may commit suicide

in treatment can help-it does get better

let’s dance in style, lets dance for a while
heaven can wait we’re only watching the skies
hoping for the best but expecting the worst
are you going to drop the bomb or not?

a young man's death in which lesbian's are not immune-he was so much wiser than his year of 23-why am i so moved by such tenderness leaving this world so abruptly???love is felt-tears were shed

let us die young or let us live forever
we don’t have the power but we never say never

james dean he crashed too young into death

sitting in a sandpit, life is a short trip
the music’s for the sad men
can you imagine when this race is won

sylvia's husband was an a$$hole

sylvia plath's journals

sylvia plath-line by line a husband's torment-his torment my a$$ what about his dead wife-ted hughes was a real neglectful s@n-of-a-b!t@h

sylvia in her younger days

sylvia nearing the end

sylvia -giving up the last days

turn our golden faces into the sun
praising our leaders we’re getting in tune

a young twenty year old virginia

jim morrison who died young

janis joplin who died young-i once believed the mob did it-i fell in love with janis when i was a teen and felt if i could just have loved her maybe i could have saved her-magic thinking-i know-but i was forever young then myself

jimi hendrix went off in the divine madness of the purple haze-my younger brother was i think a little in love with him-he modeled his guitar playing style after him-now though he is almost blind and wants to kill me and the mere mention of my name puts him into a blind rage-he's paranoid and a manic depressive-we share the last in common-yet i still miss both my brother and jimi

selena-murdered when just a rose starting to bloom

Amy Winehouse went cold turkey all alone and it killed

the music’s played by the madmen
forever young, i want to be forever young

natasha-a talent lost needlessly

do you really want to live forever, forever and ever
some are like water, some are like the heat

young elvis-the music just cut too deep-the drugs couldn't heal the pain

some are a melody and some are the beat
sooner or later they all will be gone

dominque dunne-murdered by stalker-forever young

why don’t they stay young
it’s so hard to get old without a cause

corey-haim-when-he-was-young-who could not love this face

corey haim-he thought he was always forgotten but he was not and he will always be forever young

jeff conaway-musical grease-taxi-addiction-overdose

i don’t want to perish like a fading horse
youth is like diamonds in the sun
and diamonds are forever

virginia woolf-genius-tortured by divine madness until her suicide

so many adventures couldn’t happen today
so many songs we forgot to play

Tennessee Williams-a genius with words-gay in a straight world


so many dreams are swinging out of the blue
we let them come true

natasha-richardson-a headache-then gone-rip

The Most Beautiful Voice of All Time - I Will Always Love You - Always and Forever

The Most Beautiful Voice of All Time - I Will Always Love You - Always and Forever d. February 11, 2012 at 48

who wants to live forever???
freddie mercury – queen
5 September 1946 – 24 November 1991
freddie died one day after publicly acknowledging he had AIDS
come down the rabbit hole with freddie
have a marvelous time and a divine concert with queen