Robert Altman, the caustic and irreverent satirist behind “M-A-S-H,” “Nashville” and “The Player” who made a career out of bucking Hollywood management and story conventions, died at a Los Angeles Hospital, his production company said Tuesday. He was 81. The director died Monday night, Joshua Astrachan, a producer at Altman’s Sandcastle 5 Productions in New York City, told The Associated Press. The cause of death wasn’t disclosed.
He was an evil old sod, Robert Altman. He always worked best from a position of contempt, and it colours all his films, even “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean” and the way the camera traps poor pathetic Mona. But he leaves behind an astonishing, untouchable oeuvre: even largely forgotten films like “Secret Honor” and “Countdown” resonate. Robert Altman was the last great American director who wasn’t afraid to hate.