The Passing of a Storyteller

May 27, 2008

One of my favorite directors has passed away.  Sydney Pollack, who directed The Way We Were, Out of Africa, Tootsie, The FirmAbsence of Malice, The Electric HorsemanThree Days of the Condor, and They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, among his many credits, died yesterday of cancer.  Different directors excel at different things, of course.  I think that no one does spectacle like Spielberg (for instance, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Saving Private Ryan); Peter Weir excels at bringing striking imagery to his films (Think Witness, The Year of Living Dangerously, Galipoli).  Sydney Pollack was simply a terrific storyteller.  His filmmaking was never flashy, but never once in watching one of his films did I find myself questioning any of his artistic choices.  His films were seemless.

Pollack also produced many well-known films, and he got his start as an actor.  And in fact, whenever I think of Pollack, the first thing that comes to mind is a scene that Dustin Hoffman prevailed upon him to act in Tootsie.  Those of you who have seen the movie might remember the scene in which Hoffman’s character barges into the office of his agent, played by Pollack, and demands to know why he hasn’t been getting any acting jobs.  The resulting argument over how difficult Michael is to work with, remains one of the funniest five minutes you’ll ever see in any movie.

In any case, I’ll miss Sydney Pollack the actor and Sydney Pollack the producer.  And I believe that Hollywood will be poorer for the loss of Sydney Pollack the storyteller.

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2 Responses to “The Passing of a Storyteller”

  1. cedarstreetwriter said

    Thank you for posting this message; one of my favorite too.

    Annie O.

  2. davidbcoe said

    Thanks for the comment, Annie.

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