Sydney Pollack: The Passing of a Legend

Even if you’re not mad about movies, you’d probably still have seen some of Sydney Pollack’s works, either with him as a director, an actor, or a producer. 

A good movie is measured not in length, but in depth, and a career, in breadth.  But even if you’d like to use length to evaluate, Pollack’s five decades of contribution to the movie industry can certainly measure up.   

Consider these titles:

  • They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969, director) 
  • The Way We Were (1973, director)
  • Three Days of the Condor (1975, director)
  • Absence of Malice (1981, director, producer)
  • The Firm (1993, director, producer)
  • Sabrina (1995, director, producer)
  • Sense and Sensibility (1995, producer)
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999, executive producer)
  • Up At The Villa (2000, executive producer)
  • The Quiet American (2002, executive producer)
  • Cold Mountain (2003, producer)
  • The Interpreter (2005, actor, director, executive producer)
  • Sketches of Frank Gehry (2005, director)
  • Michael Clayton (2007, actor, producer)
  • Made of Honor (2008, actor)

Not to mention the numerous TV appearances, dating back to “Playhouse 90” (1959), “The Twilight Zone” (1960), “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” (1960), to “Will & Grace” and “The Sopranos”.

And with his directing, he had sent Jane Fonda, Susannah York, Paul Newman, Jessica Lange, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, and Barbra Streisand to the Oscars.  

Yes, you might have noticed…I’ve left out two movies, and they’re classics:  Tootsie (1982) and Out of Africa (1985).  No…how can I have forgotten them? I’m just saving my favorites for last.  Pollack acted in and directed Tootsie.  He demonstrated that he was an incisive social critic who could tactfully embed his provocative commentary in an enjoyable comedy.

And Out of Africa…the movie that brought Pollack his Oscar win as Best Director, and won the Best Picture of 1985… I just want to say, it represents the epitome of a great love story, one that encompasses depth of character, poignancy, meaning and significance.  And the images, the music and cinematography…just astounding.  Why do we only have ‘Chick Flicks’ nowadays?  What happened to the art and depth of storytelling?

Pollack died of cancer in Los Angelas on May 26.  He was 73.  Here are some links covering the passing of Sydney Pollack:

BBC News with video clip

SFGate, San Francisco Chronicle

Yahoo News with ABC news clip