Credit: Shutterstock/Robert Altman

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

Subversive, satirical and a non-conformist to the end, Robert Altman was best known for directing the black-comedy MASH, the 1970 film that inspired the TV show of the same name. He became well known for encouraging improvisations amongst his motley casts, cutting frantically between different takes and creating a quick-paced but natural soundscape of dialogue.

Despite never winning an Oscar, the Academy bestowed him with an honorary award in 2005 in light of his career which had “repeatedly reinvented the art form”.

At a time when anti-war sentiment was rising in America, Robert’s first film, MASH, became an instant hit, earning five Oscar nominations. His satirical take on the Korean war had clear parallels with the ongoing Vietnam war, and the film spawned a TV show that would become one of the most adored and successful in US history.

Because of his refusal to bow to the whims of Hollywood producers and executives, Altman retained total creative control of his films, and his film sets had a reputation for being joyous. Actor Tim Robbin, who worked with Altman several times, described the atmosphere as “a sweet anarchy that many of us hadn't felt since the schoolyard, unleashed by Bob's wild heart.”