The Film Society of Lincoln Center feted Robert Altman Monday night, the group’s 23rd such annual tribute.
Joining the director in the three-hour-plus program at Avery Fisher Hall were Keith Carradine, Sally Kellerman, Elliott Gould, Lauren Bacall, Lily Tomlin, Lyle Lovett, Michael Murphy, Tim Robbins, Dina Merrill, Harry Belafonte, Robin Williams and last year’s honoree Jack Lemmon, a cast member in Altman’s recent “Short Cuts.”
“I’m not an actor,” said Lovett, who played the baker in “Short Cuts.” “But, thanks to Mr. Altman, there are people in this world who think I am.”
Following a clip from “Popeye,” Williams took to the podium and remarked: “Hitchcock said actors are cattle. Bob disagrees. He thinkswe’re more like free-range chickens.” Acknowledging the general dismissal of “Popeye,” he added, “You show that movie to a 6-year-old — I’m Olivier.”
The evening, introduced by Film Society president Roy Furman, comprised six segments of clips covering such Altman high points as “MASH,””McCabe and Mrs. Miller,””Nashville” and “Short Cuts.” to cult fodder like “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean” and “Vincent and Theo.” Technical aspects of the presentation were disappointing, visually and especially aurally.
In the evening’s final tribute, Lemmon called Altman “a magician, not a manipulator.”
“I love these movies I made,” Altman said. “The more time I spend on the planet, the more it occurs to me that I haven’t made 34 movies — it’s all one film … I really don’t care whether these things are successful enough — they are to those who made them.”