Man. They’re dropping like flies this year. Like Altman, Peckinpah, Frankenheimer and Lumet, Sydney Pollack cut his teeth directing TV in the 50’s and 60’s before making the leap to the big screen. The good thing about these early TV to film directors is that they were great at economizing. The bad thing is that not many of them developed much of a cinematic style, Altman and Peckinpah being the exceptions. But there are plenty of films that Pollack directed that deserve multiple viewings. My favorites being Three Days of the Condor, Tootsie and Jeremiah Johnson. (a somewhat knockoff of Altman’s superior McCabe and Mrs. Miller but has its entertaining moments). The Firm isn’t great, but has a contagious urgency to it that makes it seem entertaining. It’s not a bad thriller.
What I’ll really remember Pollack for is for his brilliant, hilarious and touching performance in Husbands and Wives, a very underrated Woody Allen film, that may have gotten the props it deserved (including Oscar nods for both Pollack and Judy Davis) if Allen hadn’t thrown a hump into his step daughter during production.
R.I.P. Sydney Pollack.