Sydney Pollack

"Though Pollack has treated a cross-section of Hollywood genres, the majority of his films divide into male-action dramas and female melodramas… The typical Pollack hero is a loner whose past interferes with his ability to function in the present." - Patricia Erens (International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, 2000)

Sydney Pollack

Director / Producer / Actor
(1934-2008) Born July 1, Lafayette, Indiana, USA
Top 250 Directors

Key Production Country: USA
Key Genres: Drama, Romantic Drama, Period Film, Romance, Melodrama, Thriller, Paranoid Thriller, Political Thriller, Western
Key Collaborators: Dave Grusin (Composer), Stephen Grimes (Production Designer), Robert Redford (Leading Actor), Fredric Steinkamp (Editor), William Steinkamp (Editor), Owen Roizman (Cinematographer), Dabney Coleman (Leading Character Actor), Allyn McLerie (Character Actress), David Rayfiel (Screenwriter), Robert Towne (Screenwriter), Kurt Luedtke (Screenwriter), Duke Callaghan (Cinematographer)

"His glossy commercial movies about important social issues are made by someone who wishes to be considered a serious Hollywood artist. For those who believe that is a contradiction in terms, Pollack proves them right. The basic material of the films is often daring and powerful, but in his hands it turns to pulp." - Ronald Bergan (A-Z of Movie Directors, 1983)
“One of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful directors of the 1970s and 1980s, he owes part of his success to his close and rewarding professional association with Robert Redford… Pollack's movies have received a staggering 43 Oscar nominations, including four for Best Picture… The central theme of Pollack's works clearly suggests why his films have been so popular; his stories usually focus on heroes and heroines trapped in an often hostile society.” - The Encyclopedia of Hollywood, 2004
"Sydney Pollack is an engaging, enthusiastic and unpretentious man who has consistently elicited fine performances from Hollywood stars, including Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Paul Newman and Burt Lancaster. His affinity for actors stems from his years at NYC's Neighbourhood Playhouse, where he studied with Sanford Meisner and stayed on at Meisner's request as an acting teacher, developing the nurturing qualities that have made him an 'actor's director'." - The Hollywood.com Guide to Film Directors, 2004
"Originally an actor, and then a director on TV, Pollack had always shown an interest in enterprising material, persistently let down by his middlebrow approach. Yet he became one of the leading producer-directors in America… Tootsie and Out of Africa were big pictures, heavy with praise and awards—Out of Africa won best picture. Yet they were both the work of a good producer rather than a director with character." - David Thomson (The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, 2010)
"This American director has usually made interesting and sometimes slightly offbeat star vehicles, notably for Burt Lancaster and Robert Redford, although sometimes they lack that bite which would take them into the very top class. The Scalphunters is his most uninhibited and therefore most enjoyable film. Otherwise he seems to hold back just a little - perhaps the overwhelming influence of those big star personalities." - David Quinlan (Quinlan's Illustrated Guide to Film Directors, 1999)
"Sydney Pollack can be relied upon to elicit star turns, Oscars, box-office dollars and, occasionally, zeitgeist-defining films." - Richard Armstrong (The Rough Guide to Film, 2007)
"Pollack is a straightforwardly commercial director who has happily been a part of the mainstream, unlike such contemporaries as Sidney Lumet and Woody Allen. He has worked in staple genres - western, romance, paranoid conspiracy thriller, gangster, epic historical drama - and has enjoyed much critical and box-office success… As well as co-producing many of his own directorial assignments since The Yakuza, Pollack has been a prolific producer of other director's work since the mid-1970s. This reflects his respectable position firmly within the establishment of an industry he is clearly much at ease with." - John Manuel (Contemporary North American Film Directors, 2002)
"Shows how society holds and oppresses its members in roles, and how they react." - William R. Meyer (The Film Buff's Catalog, 1978)
TSPDT Guide
Recommended
They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969)
Worth a Look
Jeremiah Johnson (1972), The Yakuza (1974), Three Days of the Condor (1975), Tootsie (1982) , Out of Africa (1985), Sketches of Frank Gehry (2006)
Approach with Caution
This Property is Condemned (1966), The Scalphunters (1968), Absence of Malice (1981), The Interpreter (2005)
Not Recommended
The Way We Were (1973), Bobby Deerfield (1977), The Firm (1993)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films
Sydney Pollack / Favourite Films
Casablanca (1942) Michael Curtiz, Citizen Kane (1941) Orson Welles, The Conformist (1970) Bernardo Bertolucci, The Godfather Part II (1974) Francis Ford Coppola, La Grande illusion (1937) Jean Renoir, The Leopard (1963) Luchino Visconti, Once Upon a Time in America (1984) Sergio Leone, Raging Bull (1980) Martin Scorsese, The Seventh Seal (1957) Ingmar Bergman, Sunset Blvd. (1950) Billy Wilder.
Source: Sight & Sound (2002)
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    Tootsie
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