Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Robert Altman, fully Robert Bernard Altman

American Film Director and Screenwriter

"To play it safe is not to play."

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

"I was scared that no one would hire me. At that time, there was still a stigma attached to it. A big stigma. Actually, I think I was healthier after the operation than some people who have bypass surgery because I was completely cured. But when you mentioned "heart transplant," you got a very negative reaction. It triggered people's imaginations, and not in a good way."

"Filmmaking is a chance to live many lifetimes."

"If you don't have a leg to stand on, you can't put your foot down."

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

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

"It's all just one film to me. Just different chapters."

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

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

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

"Maybe there's a chance to get back to grown-up films. Anything that uses humor and dramatic values to deal with human emotions and gets down to what people are to people."

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

"People have asked me throughout the years which directors have influenced me. I don"

"Retirement? You're talking about death, right?"

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

"What's a cult? It just means not enough people to make a minority."

"Wisdom and love have nothing to do with each other. Wisdom is staying alive, survival. You"

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

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