The internet can be a miracle. Years ago, we might have read about the very early work of certain filmmakers — commercials, short films, and so-called ‘industrials,’ aka informative films made for companies or schools — but they were often very difficult to find. We knew about these journeyman periods from various directors, but couldn’t easily view them. Now, when someone finds a rare copy of a famous filmmaker’s early work, it takes only minutes to digitize and upload to YouTube, where it becomes part of public record once more.

Case in point: Modern Football, one of the earliest films made by the late Robert Altman (M.A.S.H., Nashville, Gosford Park).

Altman’s early film work began in the late ’40s, and until the mid-’50s he made dozens of industrials. Modern Football, made in 1951, is reportedly Altman’s second film ever. (Some peg it as his first, but I’ve seen references to another industrial from ’49.)

Few have seen this half-hour movie in the last few decades, but another filmmaker recently found a 16mm among a collection of industrials at a flea market in Kansas City. The film has been uploaded to YouTube, and you can have a look below to get a taste of Altman’s very early work. Read More »