HealtH (1980): Altman’s Satire of the American Way of Life

Robert Altman directed HealtH (aka Health and H.E.A.L.T.H.), an ensemble comedy, starring Carol Burnett, Glenda Jackson, James Garner, Lauren Bacall, and Paul Dooley.

The film’s title is an acronym for “Happiness, Energy, and Longevity through Health.”

A parody of the American political scene, HealtH is set at a health food convention at a Florida luxury hotel, where a political party is choosing a new president. The election is rife with backroom deals and scandals; a businessman, Colonel Cody, is out to rig the votes and the outcome.

Dick Cavett and Dinah Shore, real life TV talk show hosts are mentioned in the film.

HealtH, made by Altman’s company Lion’s Gate Films, was his last film for the 20th Century-Fox, which kept it on the shelves for two years. The movie got some festival showings and brief Los Angeles run in 1980.

This and 1979’s Quintet were Altman’s first collaborations with writer Frank Barhydt, and the two would later work on the 1988 HBO miniseries “Tanner ’88,” as well as 1993’s Short Cuts and 1996’s Kansas City.