|The Late Show|
|Directed by||Robert Benton|
|Written by||Robert Benton|
|Story by||Rodolfo Sonego|
|Produced by|| Robert Altman |
|Starring|| Art Carney |
|Cinematography||Charles Rosher Jr.|
|Edited by||Peter Appleton|
|Music by||Kenneth Wannberg|
Lion's Gate Films
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|February 10, 1977 (New York) |
The Late Show is a 1977 American neo-noir mystery film written and directed by Robert Benton and produced by Robert Altman. It stars Art Carney, Lily Tomlin, Bill Macy, Eugene Roche, and Joanna Cassidy.
A drama with a few comic moments, the story follows an aging detective trying to solve the case of his partner's murder while dealing with a flamboyant new client. 
Benton was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 1977. 
A financially strained, aging Los Angeles private detective named Ira Wells isn't a well man and is barely active in the business. He is a loner who doesn't much care for company or small talk. When his ex-partner Harry Regan shows up at Ira's boarding house one night, mortally wounded while on a case, Ira feels it's up to him to get to the bottom of it.
The trail leads Ira to a small-time fence named Birdwell, whose young bodyguard Lamar is only too happy to rough up the old man when Ira pays a call. But they make a mistake in intimidating and underestimating Ira, who ends up paying Lamar back in kind as well as tracking down Birdwell's missing wife.
Meanwhile, a would-be client named Margo Sperling is introduced to Ira by a mutual acquaintance, Charlie Hatter, a tipster. Margo is a quirky individual who acts as an agent for a singer, sells marijuana on the side and wants to hire Ira to find not a murderer but just her missing cat.
As they get to know each other after a rocky start, Ira and Margo hit it off to the point that she offers to become his new partner. But first they need to deal with a dangerous confrontation in Margo's apartment. 
In early 1976, Robert Benton brought his script to Robert Altman who, after reading it, decided to produce the film. While Benton had co-authored screenplays for several films, he was the sole author for The Late Show, which was also only the second film that Benton directed. Production began in spring of 1976 and wrapped in November.  Lou Lombardo, who had a long relationship with Altman and edited several of Altman's films in the 1970s, edited along with Peter Appleton.
Ruth Nelson, playing the landlady Mrs. Schmidt, was a founder of the Group Theatre. It was her first film role since Arch of Triumph in 1948.
The Late Show got extremely positive reviews when it was initially released in 1977. Pauline Kael wrote: "The Late Show never lets up; the editing is by Lou Lombardo (who has often worked with Robert Altman) and Peter Appleton, and I can't think of a thriller from the forties that is as tight as this, or has such sustained tension...The Late Show is fast and exciting, but it isn't a thriller, exactly. It's a one-of-a-kind movie—a love-hate poem to sleaziness."  Variety declared that Benton "has given Carney and Tomlin the freedom to create two extremely sympathetic characters. Both performances are knockout and should draw solid notices for this little-ballyhooed pic. Distrib Warner Bros. may just have a sleeper on its hands."  Vincent Canby of The New York Times called the film "a funny, tightly constructed, knowledgeable, affectionate rave that all of us can share."  Roger Ebert wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times: "And most of all, it's a movie that dares a lot, pulls off most of it, and entertains us without insulting our intelligence," giving the film a four-star rating.  Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune also gave the film four out of four stars, calling it "a marvelous comedy" and "an old-style film full of character, a genuine throwback to Hollywood's best efforts."  He ranked the film second (behind only Annie Hall ) on his year-end list of the best films of 1977.  Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times called the film "an artful and affectionate original, lively and enjoyable on its own self-sufficient terms, which catches the spirit and reflects the structure of the previous private eye pleasures."  Gary Arnold of The Washington Post called it "a modestly conceived but surprisingly satisfying entertainment, a private-eye melodrama that looks and sounds up-to-date while respecting the traditions and conventions of the genre."  Louise Sweet of The Monthly Film Bulletin was negative, calling the film a "wrongheaded attempt at nostalgic recreation" with Tomlin miscast in "a stereotyped role" and Benton directing at "a sluggish, almost geriatric pace." 
An appreciation of the film was penned by Doug Krentzlin in 2014, who called the film "a unique, one-of-a-kind film that lived up to its advertising tagline 'The nicest, warmest, funniest, and most touching movie you’ll ever see about blackmail, mystery, and murder.'" 
The Late Show has a 94% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, based on 35 reviews. 
The film received many award nominations, several for Benton's screenplay. Carney's performance won him the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor. Tomlin's performance was nominated for the BAFTA Award and the Golden Globe Award, and she won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 27th Berlin International Film Festival.  The film was nominated for the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. Benton's screenplay was nominated for the Writers Guild of America Award (Best Drama Written Directly for the Screen) and for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Benton won the award for Best Motion Picture Screenplay at the Edgar Awards. 
The film was the inspiration for the short-lived US television series Eye to Eye (1985).  
The Late Show was released as a zone 1 DVD in 2004.   It previously had been released as a VHS tape. 
McCabe & Mrs. Miller is a 1971 American revisionist Western film directed by Robert Altman and starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie. The screenplay by Altman and Brian McKay is based on the 1959 novel McCabe by Edmund Naughton. Altman referred to it as an "anti-Western" film because it ignores or subverts a number of Western conventions. It was filmed in British Columbia, Canada in the fall and winter of 1970, and premiered on June 24, 1971.
Nashville is a 1975 American satirical musical comedy-drama film directed and produced by Robert Altman. The film follows various people involved in the country and gospel music businesses in Nashville, Tennessee, over a five-day period, leading up to a gala concert for a populist outsider running for President on the Replacement Party ticket.
The Goodbye Girl is a 1977 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Herbert Ross, written by Neil Simon and starring Richard Dreyfuss, Marsha Mason, Quinn Cummings and Paul Benedict. The film, produced by Ray Stark, centers on an odd trio of characters: a struggling actor who has sublet a Manhattan apartment from a friend, the current occupant, and her precocious young daughter.
The Player is a 1992 American satirical black comedy film directed by Robert Altman and written by Michael Tolkin, based on his own 1988 novel of the same name. The film stars Tim Robbins, Greta Scacchi, Fred Ward, Whoopi Goldberg, Peter Gallagher, Brion James and Cynthia Stevenson, and is the story of a Hollywood film studio executive who kills an aspiring screenwriter he believes is sending him death threats.
Quintet is a 1979 American post-apocalyptic science fiction film directed by Robert Altman. It stars Paul Newman, Brigitte Fossey, Bibi Andersson, Fernando Rey, Vittorio Gassman and Nina Van Pallandt.
Short Cuts is a 1993 American comedy-drama film, directed by Robert Altman. Filmed from a screenplay by Altman and Frank Barhydt, it is inspired by nine short stories and a poem by Raymond Carver. The film has a Los Angeles setting, which is substituted for the Pacific Northwest backdrop of Carver's stories. Short Cuts traces the actions of 22 principal characters, both in parallel and at occasional loose points of connection. The role of chance and luck is central to the film, and many of the stories concern death and infidelity.
Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, collectively known as Siskel & Ebert, were American film critics known for their partnership on television lasting from 1975 to Siskel's death in 1999.
Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean is a 1982 comedy-drama film and an adaptation of Ed Graczyk's 1976 play. The Broadway and screen versions were directed by Robert Altman, and stars Sandy Dennis, Cher, Mark Patton, Karen Black, Sudie Bond, and Kathy Bates.
The Gambler is a 1974 American crime drama film written by James Toback and directed by Karel Reisz. It stars James Caan, Paul Sorvino and Lauren Hutton. Caan's performance was widely lauded and was nominated for a Golden Globe.
Funny Lady is a 1975 American biographical musical comedy-drama film and the sequel to the 1968 film Funny Girl. The film stars Barbra Streisand, James Caan, Omar Sharif, Roddy McDowall and Ben Vereen.
Robert Douglas Benton is an American screenwriter and film director. He is best known as the writer and director of the film Kramer vs. Kramer, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. He had previously written the screenplay for the film Bonnie and Clyde.
Secret Honor is a 1984 American historical drama film directed by Robert Altman, written by Donald Freed and Arnold M. Stone, and starring Philip Baker Hall. It is based on the play, and follows Richard Nixon as a fictional account attempting to gain insight. It was filmed at the University of Michigan.
3 Women is a 1977 American psychological drama film written, produced, and directed by Robert Altman and starring Shelley Duvall, Sissy Spacek and Janice Rule. It depicts the increasingly bizarre, mysterious relationship between a woman (Duvall) and her roommate and co-worker (Spacek) in a dusty California desert town. The story came directly from a dream Altman had, which he adapted into a treatment, intending to film without a screenplay. 20th Century Fox financed the project on the basis of Altman's past work, and a screenplay was completed before filming.
The French Lieutenant's Woman is a 1981 British romantic drama film directed by Karel Reisz, produced by Leon Clore, and adapted by the playwright Harold Pinter. It is based on The French Lieutenant's Woman, a 1969 novel by John Fowles. The music score is by Carl Davis and the cinematography by Freddie Francis.
The Long Goodbye is a 1973 American neo-noir satirical mystery crime thriller film directed by Robert Altman and based on Raymond Chandler's 1953 novel. The screenplay was written by Leigh Brackett, who co-wrote the screenplay for Chandler's The Big Sleep in 1946. The film stars Elliott Gould as Philip Marlowe and features Sterling Hayden, Nina Van Pallandt, Jim Bouton, Mark Rydell and an early uncredited appearance by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
California Split is a 1974 American comedy-drama film directed by Robert Altman and starring Elliott Gould and George Segal as a pair of gamblers and was the first non-Cinerama film to use eight-track stereo sound.
Thieves Like Us is a 1974 American crime film, set in the United States of the 1930s. It was directed by Robert Altman and starred Keith Carradine and Shelley Duvall. The film was based on the novel of the same name by Edward Anderson, which also supplied source material for the 1948 film They Live by Night, directed by Nicholas Ray. The Altman film sticks much closer to the book. The supporting cast includes Louise Fletcher and Tom Skerritt.
The Iceman Cometh is a 1973 American drama film directed by John Frankenheimer. The screenplay, written by Thomas Quinn Curtiss, is based on Eugene O'Neill's 1946 play of the same name. The film was produced by Ely Landau for the American Film Theatre, which from 1973 to 1975 presented thirteen film adaptations of noted plays.
Beyond Therapy is a 1987 American comedy film written and directed by Robert Altman, based on the 1981 play of the same name by Christopher Durang. It stars Julie Hagerty, Jeff Goldblum, Glenda Jackson, Tom Conti, and Christopher Guest.
Streamers is a 1983 film adapted by David Rabe from his play of the same name. The film was directed by Robert Altman and produced by Robert Michael Geisler and John Roberdeau, who later produced The Thin Red Line. The cast includes David Alan Grier as Roger, Mitchell Lichtenstein as Richie, Matthew Modine as Billy, Michael Wright as Carlyle, George Dzundza as Cokes, and Guy Boyd as Rooney.
Echoes of Chandler and Hammett resound in Benton's complex but likable script; chemistry between Carney and Tomlin is perfect. Later a short-lived TV series called Eye to Eye (1985).