|David Alan Grier, Matthew Modine and Michael Wright in Robert Altman's Streamers (1983).|
From 1981 to 1989, I was assistant producer and co-host of the radio show On the Arts at CJRT-FM in Toronto. With the late Tom Fulton, who was the show's prime host and producer, we did a half-hour interview program where we talked to artists from all fields. In 1994, after I had gone to CBC, I had an idea to collate an interview anthology from some of the more interesting discussions I'd had with guests from that period. Since they all took place during the Eighties, I thought I could edit the collection into an oral history of the decade from some of its most outspoken participants. The book was assembled from interview transcripts and organized thematically. I titled it Talking Out of Turn: Revisiting the '80s. With financial help from the Canada Council, I shaped the individual pieces into a number of pertinent themes relevant to the decade. By the time I began to contact publishers, though, the industry was starting to change. At one time, editorial controlled marketing. Now the reverse was taking place. Acquisition editors, who once responded to an interesting idea for a book, were soon following marketing divisions concerned with whether the person doing it was hot enough to sell it.
|Tom Fulton, host and producer of On the Arts.|
One chapter, titled The Ghosts of Vietnam, featured interviews with a variety of authors (Robert Stone, Brian Fawcett) and filmmakers (Oliver Stone, Louis Malle) who dealt in their work with various aspects of the legacy of the Vietnam War and how it was felt in the Eighties. The American obsession with Latin and South America during the Reagan years seemed to be an ill-advised attempt to exorcise the ghosts of the earlier conflict. One of those interviews was with filmmaker Robert Altman, who I sat down with in 1983 to speak about his new film, Streamers.
The films of Robert Altman's films constantly had the buzz of Vietnam behind them, whatever their explicit subject matter – e.g. MASH (1970), McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), and Nashville (1975) – but Streamers, a screen adaptation of David Rabe's play of the same name, was Altman's first film to deal directly with the conflict. Though Streamers isn't among Altman's best movies, his thoughts about the project and about the Vietnam conflict were fascinating.
– Kevin Courrier.
Here is the full interview with Robert Altman as it aired on CJRT-FM in 1983.