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HealtH (1980)

PG  |   |  Comedy  |  12 September 1980 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.6/10 from 503 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 7 critic

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Gloria Burbank
Isabella Garnell
Harry Wolff
Esther Brill
Dr. Gil Gainey
Colonel Cody
Bobby Hammer
Diane Stilwell ...
Willow Wertz
MacIntyre Dixon ...
Fred Munson
Sally Benbow
Dr. Ruth Ann Jackie
Margery Bond ...
Daisy Bell
Lily Bell
Mina Kolb ...
Iris Bell
Jake Jacobs (as Allan Nicholls)


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PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

12 September 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

H.E.A.L.T.H.  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (FMC Library Print)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film has often been compared with director Robert Altman's earlier movie Nashville (1975). See more »


Bobby Hammer: The breast that feeds the baby rules the world.
See more »

Crazy Credits

You hear a woman's voice say "Hit it" and then you hear the drum part of the Fox fanfare without the horns and then the drum part was repeated again. See more »


Featured in Altman (2014) See more »


Chick and Thin
Music by Bob Ecton
Lyrics by Robert Altman
See more »

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User Reviews

A Goofie But Charming Altman Satire of "New-Age" Politics
22 September 2015 | by (Oakland, CA) – See all my reviews

HealtH by Robert Altman is probably the goofiest film made by the master of improvisation cinema. It is a satire on the many organized associations which have emerged in the modern world concerning better living. Think of the many associations which are linked to industries, such as in sports, food, and medicine. So many of these associations become political entities in and of themselves, not just influencing the politics without but also within. Altman's film pokes fun with the sharpness and sting of a fireplace poker to reveal the insanity of the politics within these associations. In this case, the organization is a fictional health-food organization in which a new president must be elected at their annual convention being held at a Florida hotel.

Three women with polarized demeanors, sensibilities and comportment are vying for the top job. And each has their own strange quirkiness. Gloria Burbank (Carol Burnett), who works as a deputy consultant for the US President, is the least confident and least vocal of the three. However, her libido becomes overly active when frightened. In an initial television interview with Dick Cavette (playing himself) along with the two others, she's terrified of the spotlight and constantly gropes Cavette. Isabella Garnell (Glenda Jackson) is the most sober of the three. She is dedicated with a sense of what "should be done" in terms of future plans, but she's not as appealing as her two rivals, barely cracking a smile. Even her female assistant regards the other rivals as "rock stars". Esther Brill (Lauren Becall) is the most flamboyant and outwardly vocal of the three. She claims not only that she's 83 years old but her dog is almost 41. (Burbank whispers to Garnell , asking how many 41 is in dog years, to which Garnell replies that the dog should be dead.) Brill's main gesture is a kind of one-arm salute which, upon occasion, causes her hand to stay in the air, and she loses consciousness.

From the start, we see the nuttiness of the whole operation. The hotel has been decorated like a quasi-Disneyland. People are dressed in costumes of plants and other food-stuffs. The audience and participants are treating the gathering like some cultural event, and yet, it's only about health food. As the film progresses, we see the inner politics, scandals, and back-biting of an organization which is supposed to be centered upon improving people's lives.

This is certainly the nuttiest film in the Altman Canon. The overlapping dialog is ever-present, and there is even overlapping gestures and behaviors. If you can understand Altman's point about health and well-being organizations being overtly political among their own people, this film is a hoot. Everything is applied with the subtlety of a sledge-hammer, but Altman has never been one to shirk from the controversial. It's a riot in a certain Altman way, but not the kind of comedy which is for all tastes.

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