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Watch: Lost 1951 Robert Altman Film 'Modern Football' (Video)

Thompson on Hollywood By Maggie Lange | Thompson on Hollywood March 14, 2012 at 2:10PM

Look closely and you will find traces of Robert Altman's signature cinematic approach in the just-discovered footage of his lost early film "Modern Football." Produced in 1951 for the Kansas City film company Calvin, the 26-year-old Altman strings together the daily life of football players with their game.
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Robert Altman

Look closely and you will find traces of Robert Altman's signature cinematic approach in the just-discovered footage of his lost early film "Modern Football."  Produced in 1951 for the Kansas City film company Calvin, the 26-year-old Altman amusingly strings together the daily life of football players with their game. 

Discovered at a sprawling swap meet in Kansas City by filmmaker Gary Huggins, "Modern Football" was the most boring title, he said, in a pack of instructional films he had purchased for $10.  When he saw Altman's moniker, he transferred the 16-millimeter print and posted it publicly on YouTube.

Nearly two decades before directing his breakout "M.A.S.H.," Altman is experimenting here.  It's an instructional film, but Altman manages to work in a dream sequence, player psychology and hilariously blatant product placement.  See the early Altman foray here or below.
 

This article is related to: Video, Video, Directors


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.