Tuesday, May 27, 2008

So Long, Sydney

Sydney Pollack was always a welcome presence whether as director, producer or even as an actor. The mere mention of his involvement in a project became a guarantee of quality and class. One need only check his listing on IMDB to see the legacy he left behind, a career that is bothadmirable and inspiring. Just think of these moments preserved forever on film as a testimony of the man's talent:

Burt Lancaster's last stand in CASTLE KEEP

Robert Redford and Will Geer's last scene around the campfire in JEREMIAH JOHNSON

The pregnant Bonnie Bedelia singing "The Best Things in Life are Free in THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON'T THEY?

Robert Mitchum cutting off his pinky for penance in THE YAKUZA

A hidden microphone tearing through a movie screen in THE WAY WE WERE

The fight with the mailman in THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR

The chase scene in THE ELECTRIC HORSEMAN

Melinda Dillon's early morning breakdown, gathering up newspapers in her nightgown in ABSCENCE OF MALICE

Producer: "I want to make her look a little more attractive. How far can you pull back?"
Cameraman: "How do you feel about Cleveland?" from TOOTSIE

Denys Finch Hatton shows Karen Blixen the beauty of Africa by air in OUT OF AFRICA

The bus sequence in THE INTERPRETER

As a producer, he teamed with the recently deceased Anthony Minghella and others for these:


Stepping before the camera, Pollack was subtle perfection as well. His work as Dustin Hoffman's agent in TOOTSIE was outstanding. ("I begged you to get some therapy.") He completely stole DEATH BECOMES HER from Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis with just one single scene as a flustered emergency room doctor, an acting primer on how to underplay comedy for maximum effect. Pollack is the saving grace of Woody Allen's HUSBANDS AND WIVES . One of his last roles was an incarcerated oncologist taking care of a dying Johnny Sack in the last season of THE SOPRANOS. The irony that he too succumbed to cancer not long after certainly couldn't have been lost on Pollack.

We lost another good man in Sydney Pollack. He leaves behind a enviable body of work and a life that certainly was worth living. I hope we see his like again in this lifetime. We need a man like Sydney Pollack in this world and we'll be worse off without one.
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