Six weeks of Robert Altman films at Oldcastle Theatre Company

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BENNINGTON — Another series of classic movies will continue at Oldcastle Theatre Company — this time under one director.

Robert Altman's finest films will run every Thursday night in the comfy theater until March 30. The first, "M*A*S*H," premiered on Feb. 23. The March 2 film is "Brewster McCloud," followed by "California Split" and "Kansas City."

"Robert Altman was one of the finest and most influential American filmmakers of the what is often called the golden age of American film — the 1970s. He began directing industrial movies and graduated to television in the fifties..." said Eric Peterson, producing artistic director at Oldcastle. "The audiences have been growing and we are looking forward to soon beginning a series of independent movies."

The independent series is expected to run simultaneously on Tuesday nights, both as an effort to draw people to Main Street during the theatre's offseason. Dates and film titles are not yet announced.

Movies already shown include directors such as Charles Chapin, Howard Hawks, and Frank Capra, for example.

"Brewster McCloud" (1970) stars Bud Cort, Shelley Duvall and Sally Kellerman. It tells the story of a boy, Cort, (also the character's name) who constructs human-size wings in his fallout shelter home. Cort wants to be able to fly and is assisted by Kellerman, the "fairy godmother." The film is shot in Houston, Texas at various landmarks and streetscapes that have since gone through several changes, such as the Astrodome complex.

"Altman often used improvisation with his actors, loved overlapping dialogue and was a genius at introducing several characters with seemingly nothing in common only to have them all be blended seamlessly into a complex story," Peterson said. "Altman was highly prolific and was nominated for five Academy Awards but never won. He did, however, win the Golden Bear in Berlin, the Golden Lion in Venice and the Golden Palm at Cannes. There were critics who "never got Altman" but others, such as the NEW YORKER'S Pauline Kael were great supporters of his work "Nashville," a highly political film set in the country music capital is often considered his greatest film and will be the final movie in the Oldcastle series."

Unlike other 1970s directors, his career advanced into the early 2000s.

Altman died at 81-years-old in November 2006 from cancer. The New York Times wrote that Altman's actors praised his improvisational style and that we was a groundbreaker for the use of multilayer soundtracks.

In an interview, Altman said he wanted to expose the phoniness in situations, such as the west by inserting many cliches in the film "McCabe & Mr. Miller." He said he wanted to "drain the glamour from the west and show it as it really was filthy, vermin-infested, whisky-soaked and ruled by thugs with guns."

Oldcastle Theatre is located at 331 Main St. in Bennington. Call 802-447-0564 or visit oldcastletheatre.org for more information.

At 7 p.m. every Thursday for $5, one of Altman's films will be showing:

March 2: "Brewster McCloud"

March 9: "California Split"

March 16: "Kansas City"

March 23: "McCabe & Mrs. Miler"

March 30: "Nashville"

Reach staff writer Makayla-Courtney McGeeney at 802-490-6471 or @MC_McGeeney.


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