POPEYE
1980, Paramount, 114 min, USA, Dir: Robert Altman

Few actors could bring a cartoon character to life the way Robin Williams does in his first major film role as the titular sailor man in director Robert Altman’s musical comedy (though Shelley Duvall is pretty well cast herself as rail-thin love interest Olive Oyl). Bluto, Wimpy, Swee'Pea and all your favorites are here, as Popeye searches for his father and discovers the power of spinach. While not the blockbuster it was expected to be, the film was a financial success, and its cult reputation has risen through the years, thanks in part to its Jules Feiffer-penned screenplay and Harry Nilsson’s music.


NASHVILLE
1975, Paramount, 159 min, USA, Dir: Robert Altman

One of Robert Altman’s greatest pictures is this sprawling, nearly-out-of-control mosaic of a movie, a loosely linked series of sagas following numerous colorful characters in Nashville on the occasion of a political convention and a music festival. Somehow, as if by magic (and aided by Joan Tewkesbury’s script), Altman pulls together all the seemingly disparate threads, making everything cohere in a funny, sad, poignant and exhilarating totality. The cast includes Karen Black, Ronee Blakely, Lily Tomlin, Shelley Duvall, Keith Carradine, Ned Beatty, Barbara Baxley, Gwen Welles, Henry Gibson, Robert Doqui, Allen Garfield and more Oscar-nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actresses (both Tomlin and Blakely). Carradine received an Oscar for Best Original Song, "I’m Easy."


ROXANNE
1987, Sony Repertory, 107 min, USA, Dir: Fred Schepisi

Steve Martin was never better than as long-nosed Colorado fire chief C.D. Bales in this sparkling update of Cyrano de Bergerac. Daryl Hannah is the titular beauty who catches the eye of a rookie fireman (Rick Rossovich) reliant on Bales’ way with words for his love letters to her. Martin penned the screenplay to this charming romantic comedy, among the best of the 1980s - the film’s barroom challenge to devise 20 nose jokes is just one example of the writer-star’s razor-sharp wit.


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