Sydney Pollack Remembered

We’ve been reading all of the obituaries for Sydney Pollack, the director who died Monday at the age of 73.

“Mr. Pollack’s career defined an era in which big stars (Robert Redford, Barbra Streisand, Warren Beatty) and the filmmakers who knew how to wrangle them (Barry Levinson, Mike Nichols) retooled the Hollywood system. Savvy operators, they played studio against studio, staking their fortunes on pictures that served commerce without wholly abandoning art.” – Michael Cieply for The New York Times

“George Clooney, who starred with Pollack in ‘Michael Clayton,’ said: ‘Sydney made the world a little better, movies a little better and even dinner a little better. A tip of the hat to a class act. He’ll be missed terribly.'” – Dennis McLellan for the Associated Press/Los Angeles Times

“A tall, handsome, immediately charismatic man, he was a director most actors loved to work with, because when he talked to them about acting he knew what he was talking about. He and Robert Redford were each other’s favorite director and actor.” – Roger Ebert for The Chicago Sun-Times

“In a 1990 interview with WHYY’s Fresh Air, Pollack remembered being called into [Burt] Lancaster’s office. ‘He said, “You know, you ought to be a director. You really should. What do you want to be told what to do when you ought to be telling people what to do?” That was the way he put it. And he picked up the phone and he called Lew Wasserman, and said, “Lew, I got a kid here, I don’t know if he can direct, but he’s talented and I want you to talk to him.” I’m quoting verbatim now. He said, “In any case, he can’t be any worse than those bums you got workin’ for you now.”‘ ” – Howie Movshovitz on NPR

“He knew the subtle, delicate ways he had sold out, and he knew the weakness in himself that had let it happen. He was in pain, very successful pain.” – David Thomson’s commentary for The Guardian


“He can take any scenario—from the ridiculous to the horrific, from Streep to strife—and mold it into benign mush. This is the source of Pollack’s enduring popularity and why some of us find his recent pictures so maddening.” – Bryan Curtis’ commentary for Slate

Bonus: Click above or here to see video of Sydney Pollack discussing his Frank Gehry documentary on YouTube.

Sydney Pollack Remembered