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In the late forties and early fifties, Robert Altman was getting his start as a director by making shorts for the Kansas City industrial-film producer the Calvin Company. As you may have heard, a 16 mm print of what appears to be one of them, 1951’s Modern Football, was recently uncovered by Kansas City filmmaker Gary Huggins at a flea market. Check out this energetic glimpse of Altman’s early career, a twenty-six-minute pigskin picture and plug for Wheaties and the sporting goods company Wilson. Many viewers swear you can see Altman himself as a sportscaster duck in and out of the frame at the 2:37 mark.
For clips from more early Altman promotional films, check out the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research website; it has the opening sequence from Honeymoon for Harriet, a color short from 1948 sponsored by International Harvester that “most likely holds the distinction of being Robert Altman’s first completed film”; a tutorial on makeup and good posture from The Model's Handbook, made for the Ford Agency; and more.