Saturday, June 7, 2008

Sydney Pollack

Sydney Pollack died last week and I would be remiss if I didn't write something about him.

I think I was more of a fan of Sydney Pollack the person than of Sydney Pollack films- though he made a bunch of great films as director, producer and actor. I especially love Tootsie.

What I liked about Pollack was this: here's a guy from Indiana who worked his way up through they system by going to New York to become an actor; working in live television (remember live dramas on TV?), then directing TV westerns (if you don't remember live TV then you don't remember westerns on television either) and other episodic TV in the 1960s. He went from TV to film at the very tail end of the studio system when a director could come up through the ranks.

His films were notable to me for his casting. He used really big stars (Redford, Streep, Hoffman, Pacino, Fonda, Streisand, Cruise, Hackman, Bill Murray, Lange, Teri Garr, Harrison Ford, Penn, Kidman and the list goes on) as leads and big stars in supporting roles. You don't see that so often. How great is Bill Murray as Dustin Hoffman's roommate in Tootsie? Or Willie Nelson in Electric Horseman? He must have been doing something right to have names like those lining up to go to work for him in supporting roles.

Late in his career he became a prolific producer with his production company- Mirage- and he continued acting. He produced Michael Clayton (in which he plays a supporting role) which was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar this year. He also championed smaller film directors- he produced for the late Anthony Minghella- and small projects. His last film as director was the small and interesting documentary The Sketches of Frank Gehry.

Sydney Pollack will be missed.



Anonymous said...

Sydney was a very dear friend of mine, I will never forget him. God Bless you, my friend, Sydney Pollack.

TRWilkinson79 said...

When I was just beginning to learn about film one of the most important things I heard was Sydney Pollack's commentary on "Tootsie" When the news broke about his passing it was comforting to know that I'd gotten the chance to tell him what it meant to me.

Theresa H. Hall said...

Peter, Glad to read you again. I appreciated your web log about Mr. Pollack. He would have liked your words. Take care and please stop by for a visit.