Pollack, Sydney 1934–

views updated May 14 2018

POLLACK, Sydney 1934–


Born July 1, 1934, in Lafayette, IN; son of David (a pharmacist and professional boxer) and Rebecca (maiden name, Miller) Pollack; brother of Bernie Pollack (a costume designer); married Claire Griswold (an architect), September 22, 1958; children: Steven (died), Rebecca (a film executive), Rachel. Education: Graduated from the Neighborhood Playhouse Theatre School, 1954.

Addresses: Agent—Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Publicist— PMK/HBH New York, 650 Fifth Ave., 33rd Floor, New York, NY 10019. Office—Mirage Enterprises, 233 S. Beverly Dr., Suite 200, Beverly Hills, CA 90212.

Career: Director, producer, and actor. Neighborhood Playhouse Theatre, New York City, assistant to Sanford Meisner, 1954, acting instructor, 1954–60, dialogue coach; Mirage Productions, 1985, cofounder, renamed Mirage Enterprises, 1989; Actors Studio, executive director of West Coast branch; taught acting at New York University. Military service: U.S. Army, 1957–59.

Awards, Honors: Emmy Award, outstanding directorial achievement in drama, 1963, for Ben Casey; Emmy Awards, outstanding directorial achievement in drama, 1964 and 1966, both for Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater; Academy Award nomination, best director, 1969, Golden Globe Award nomination, best director—motion picture, Directors Guild of America Award nomination, outstanding directorial achievement in motion pictures, 1970, all for They Shoot Horses, Don't They?; Golden Palm Award nomination, Cannes Film Festival, 1972, Bronze Wrangler (with others), theatrical motion picture, Western Heritage Awards, 1973, both for Jeremiah Johnson; Golden Italia Catalina Award nomination, best film, Cartagena Film Festival, 1976, for Three Days of the Condor; honorable mention, Reader Jury of the Berliner Morgenpost, and Golden Bear nomination, all Berlin International Film Festival, 1982, for Absence of Malice; New York Film Critics Circle Award, best director, and Academy Award nominations, best picture (with Dick Richards) and best director, 1982, Bodil Festival Award, best American film, Golden Globe Award nomination, best director—motion picture, Readers' Choice Award, best foreign language film, Kinema Junpo Awards, Directors Guild of America Award nomination, outstanding directorial achievement in motion pictures, 1983, Film Award nominations, best film (with Dick Richards) and best direction, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Cesar Award nomination, best foreign film, 1984, all for Tootsie; ShoWest Award, producer of the year, 1983; Academy Awards, best picture and best director, 1985, Golden Globe Award nomination, best director—motion picture, Silver Ribbon, best director—foreign film, Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists, Directors Guild of America Award nomination, outstanding directorial achievement in motion pictures, 1986, Guild Film Award—Gold, foreign film, Guild of German Art House Cinemas, 1987, Video Premiere Award nomination, best DVD audio commentary, DVD Exclusive Awards, 2001, all for Out of Africa; Berlinale Camera, Berlin International Film Festival, 1986; Joseph Plateau Life Achievement Award, 1997; Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film nomination (with others), British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1999, for Sliding Doors; John Huston Award for Artists Rights, 2000; Blockbuster Entertainment Award nomination, favorite supporting actor—drama/romance, 2000, for Eyes Wide Shut; Outstanding Achievement in Cinema, Savannah Film and Video Festival, 2002; Leopard of Honor, Locarno International Film Festival, 2002; Film Award nomination (with others), best film, and Alexander Korda Award (with others), best British film, both British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Motion Picture Producer of the Year Award nomination (with others), PGA Golden Laurel Awards, 2004, all for Cold Mountain.


Film Work:

Voice dubbing supervisor for American version, The Leopard, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1963.

Director, The Slender Thread, Paramount, 1965.

Director, This Property Is Condemned, Paramount, 1966.

Director, The Scalphunters, United Artists, 1968.

(Uncredited) Additional director, The Swimmer, Columbia, 1968.

Director, Castle Keep, Columbia, 1969.

Director and (with Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff) producer, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, ABC/Cinerama, 1969.

Director, Jeremiah Johnson, Warner Bros., 1972.

Director and producer, The Way We Were, Columbia, 1973.

Director, Three Days of the Condor, Paramount, 1975.

Director and producer, The Yakuza (also known as Brotherhood of the Yakuza), Warner Bros./Toei, 1975.

Director and producer, Bobby Deerfield (also known as Heaven Has No Favorites), Columbia, 1976.

Director, The Electric Horseman, Columbia, 1979.

Executive producer, Honeysuckle Rose (also known as On the Road Again), Warner Bros., 1980.

Director and producer, Absence of Malice, Columbia, 1981.

Director and (with Dick Richards) producer, Tootsie, Columbia, 1982.

Producer, Songwriter, TriStar, 1984.

Director and producer, Out of Africa, Universal, 1985.

Consultant, Nine 1/2 Weeks, 1986.

(With Mark Rosenberg) Producer, Bright Lights, Big City, United Artists, 1988.

(With Rosenberg) Executive producer, Major League, Paramount, 1989.

Executive producer, The Fabulous Baker Boys, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1989.

Executive producer, White Palace, Universal, 1990.

Producer, The Last Ship, 1990.

(With Rosenberg) Producer, Presumed Innocent, Warner Bros., 1990.

Director and (with Richard Roth) producer, Havana, Universal, 1990.

Executive producer, Dead Again, Paramount, 1991.

(With others) Executive producer, King Ralph, Universal, 1991.

Executive producer, Leaving Normal, Universal, 1992.

Director and (with Scott Rudin, John A. Davis, and Michael Hausman) producer, The Firm, Paramount, 1993.

Executive producer, Searching for Bobby Fischer (also known as Innocent Moves), Paramount, 1993.

Executive producer, Flesh and Bone, Paramount, 1993.

Director and producer, Sabrina, Paramount, 1995.

Executive producer, Sense and Sensibility, Columbia, 1995.

Producer, Sliding Doors, Miramax, 1998.

Director and producer, Random Hearts, Columbia/TriStar, 1999.

Producer, The Talented Mr. Ripley (also known as The Strange Mr. Ripley and The Mysterious Yearning Secretive Sad Lonely Troubled Confused Loving Musical Gifted Intelligent Beautiful Tender Sensitive Haunted Passionate Talented Mr. Ripley), Paramount, 1999.

Producer, 20 Billion (also known as Twenty Billion), Paramount, 1999.

Executive producer, Up at the Villa, October Films, 2000.

Executive producer, Blow Dry (also known as Ueber kurz oder lang), Miramax, 2001.

Executive producer, Birthday Girl, Miramax, 2001.

Executive producer, Iris, Miramax, 2001.

Executive producer, Heaven, Miramax, 2002.

Executive producer, The Quiet American (also known as The Spy and Der Stille Amerikaner), Miramax, 2002.

Producer, Cold Mountain, Miramax, 2003.

Executive producer, In the Name of Love, 2003.

Executive producer, Forty Shades of Blue, 2004.

Film Appearances:

Sergeant Owen Van Horn, War Hunt, United Artists, 1962.

(Uncredited) Man who makes a pass at Alice, The Electric Horseman, 1979.

George Fields, Tootsie, Columbia, 1982.

Dick Mellen, The Player, Fine Line, 1992.

Jack, Husbands and Wives, TriStar, 1992.

(Uncredited) Emergency room doctor, Death Becomes Her, Universal, 1992.

Himself, The Directors: Sydney Pollack, 1997.

Al Eustis, A Civil Action, Buena Vista, 1998.

Victor Ziegler, Eyes Wide Shut (also known as EWS), Warner Bros., 1999.

Himself, Looking Back: The Making of "The Way We Were," 1999.

Carl Broman, Random Hearts, Sony Pictures Releasing, 1999.

Himself, Inside "The Talented Mr. Ripley," 1999.

Himself, Lost Angeles, 2000.

Himself, Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures, 2001.

Voice of studio executive, The Majestic, 2001.

Stephan Delano, Changing Lanes, Paramount, 2002.

Himself, A Decade under the Influence, 2003.

Narrator, Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin, 2003.

Himself, More about the Condor, 2003.

Himself, The Last Mogul: Life and Times of Lew Wasserman, 2004.

Television Work; Series:

Executive producer, Fallen Angels, Showtime, 1993–1995.

Television Work; Movies:

Dialogue director, The Turn of the Screw, NBC, 1959.

Executive producer, Poodle Springs, HBO, 1998.

Executive producer, Bronx County, 1998.

Television Work; Specials:

Video segment director and executive producer, "Sanford Meisner—The Theater's Best Kept Secret," American Masters, PBS, 1990.

Television Work; Pilots:

Director, Diagnosis: Danger, CBS, 1963.

Director, "The Watchman," Kraft Suspense Theatre, NBC, 1964.

Executive producer, The Last Defense, CBS, 1998.

Producer, Sliding Doors, CBS, 2000.

Executive producer, Emerald City, Showtime, 2002.

Director and executive producer, The Rackets, ABC, 2003.

Television Work; Episodic:

Director, Ben Casey, ABC, 1962–1963.

Director, "Something about Lee Wiley," Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater (also known as The Chrysler Theater and Universal Star Time), NBC, 1963.

Director, "The Fliers," Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater (also known as The Chrysler Theater and Universal Star Time), NBC, 1963.

Director, "Solo for B–Flat Clarinet," Breaking Point, 1963.

Director, "The Game," Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater (also known as The Chrysler Theater and Universal Star Time), NBC, 1965.

Executive producer, "Mirage" (also known as "Miss Sherri" and "The Sherri Finkbine Story"), A Private Matter, HBO, 1992.

Also directed episodes of The Fugitive, ABC; Target: The Corrupters, ABC; The Defenders; Alfred Hitchcock Presents; The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

Television Appearances; Series:

Host of The Essentials, TCM.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Himself, The Making of "Absence of Malice," 1982.

Himself, The 58th Annual Academy Awards, 1986.

Putting It Together: The Making of the Broadway Album, HBO, 1986.

Hello Actors Studio, 1987.

Himself, Natalie Wood (documentary), Cinemax, 1987.

Himself, "Sanford Meisner—The Theater's Best Kept Secret," American Masters, PBS, 1990.

Robert Redford and Sydney Pollack: The Men and Their Movies (also known as Robert Redford: The Man, the Movies, and the Myth), NBC, 1990.

The New Hollywood, NBC, 1990.

Robert Mitchum: The Reluctant Star (documentary), Cinemax, 1991.

Jessica Lange: It's Only Make–Believe (documentary), Cinemax, 1991.

Street Scenes: New York on Film (documentary), AMC, 1992.

Himself, "John Barry's Moviola," Great Performances, PBS, 1993.

Willie Nelson, the Big Six–O: An All–Star Birthday Celebration (also known as Willie Nelson: The Big Six–O), CBS, 1993.

Planet Hollywood Salutes the Top Ten Comedy Movies of All Time, Fox, 1995.

Burt Lancaster: Daring to Reach (documentary), Arts and Entertainment, 1996.

Burt Lancaster (documentary), AMC, 1997.

Himself, Independent's Day (documentary), Sundance Channel, 1998.

The Orange British Academy Film Awards, 2000.

Himself, AFI's 100 Years, 100 Laughs: America's Funniest Movies, CBS, 2000.

Himself, Hollywood, D.C. (also known as Hollywood, D.C.: A Tale of Two Cities), Bravo, 2000.

Robert Redford: Hollywood Outlaw, Arts and Entertainment, 2000.

Himself, John Barry: License to Thrill (documentary; also known as Omnibus: John Barry—License to Thrill), BBC, 2000.

Himself, Sydney Pollack y la generacion del compromiso, 2001.

Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures, Cinemax, 2001.

Dustin Hoffman: First in His Class, Arts and Entertainment, 2001.

AFI Lifetime Achievement Award: A Tribute to Barbra Streisand, Fox, 2001.

The Score (documentary), Trio, 2002.

Robert Redford (documentary), Bravo, 2002.

Himself, I Love New York, 2002.

Himself, Nicole Kidman: An American Cinematheque Tribute (documentary), AMC, 2003.

Himself, Biography Special: The Fondas, Arts and Entertainment, 2004.

Presenter, AFI Lifetime Achievement Award: A Tribute to Meryl Streep, USA Network, 2004.

Also appeared in A Cardinal Act of Mercy.

Television Appearances; Pilots:

Elizabeth's husband, Fling, 2001.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

"Family Man," Brenner, 1959.

Benson, "The Case of Julia Walton," The United States Steel Hour, 1959.

Bernie Samuelson, "The Contest for Aaron Gold," Alfred Hitchcock Presents, NBC, 1960.

Willis, "The Trouble with Templeton," The Twilight Zone, CBS, 1960.

Chuck Johnson, "Spoken in Silence," The Deputy, NBC, 1961.

Joe Gulp, "Quiet Night on the Town: Parts 1 & 2," Have Gun—Will Travel, 1961.

Austin Rogers, "The Compulsion to Confess," The New Breed, 1961.

"Monument to an Aged Hunter," Ben Casey, ABC, 1962.

Bert Masters, "Walk This Street Lightly," The New Breed, 1962.

"Robert Mitchum: The Reluctant Star," Crazy about the Movies, Cinemax, 1991.

Himself, "Naked Hollywood," A & E Premieres, Arts and Entertainment, 1991.

"Jessica Lange: It's Only Make–Believe," Crazy about the Movies, Cinemax, 1991.

Voice of guest caller Holden Thorpe, "The Candidate," Frasier, NBC, 1994.

Himself, Inside the Actors Studio, Bravo, 1995.

American Cinema, PBS, 1995.

Narrator, "Billy Wilder," Sex and the Silver Screen, Showtime, 1996.

"Burt Lancaster: Daring to Reach," Biography, Arts and Entertainment, 1996.

Dr. Sydney Warren, "Cheating on Sheila," Mad about You (also known as Loved by You), NBC, 1997.

Himself, Intimate Portrait: Jessica Lange, Lifetime, 1998.

Himself, The Directors, Encore!, 1999.

George Truman, "Oh Dad, Poor Dad, He's Kept Me in the Closet and I'm So Sad," Will & Grace, NBC, 2000.

Himself, "A&E Biography: Nina Van Horn," Just Shoot Me, NBC, 2000.

Voice of Grant Trimble, "Transnational Amusements Presents: Peggy's Magic Sex Feet," King of the Hill (animated), Fox, 2000.

George Truman, "Cheaters," Will & Grace, NBC, 2001.

Himself, The Ray Martin Show, 2001.

George Truman, "Cheatin' Trouble Blues," Will & Grace, NBC, 2002.

Also appeared in Alcoa Presents (also known as One Step Beyond), ABC; Playhouse 90, CBS; Shotgun Slade, syndicated.

Stage Appearances:

A Stone for Danny Fisher, Downtown National Theatre, New York City, 1954.

Rusti, The Dark Is Light Enough, American National Theatre and Academy, New York City, 1955.

Major Tours:

Appeared in Stalag 17, U.S. cities.



The Making of "Tootsie," Columbia, 1983.


Television Episodes:

Wrote episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Defenders.



Dworkin, Susan, Making "Tootsie": A Film Study with Dustin Hoffman and Sydney Pollack, New Market Press, 1983.

International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 2: Directors, St. James Press, 1996.

Meyer, Janet L., Sydney Pollack: A Critical Filmography, McFarland & Co., 1998.

Taylor, William Robert, Sydney Pollack, Twayne Publishers, 1981.


Variety, November 26, 2001, p. 6.

Pollack, Sydney

views updated May 23 2018


Nationality: American. Born: Lafayette, Indiana, 1 July 1934. Education: South Bend Central High School; studied with Sanford Meisner, Neighborhood Playhouse, New York. Military Service: U.S. Army, 1957–59. Family: Married Claire Griswold, 1958, three children. Career: Actor on Broadway and for TV, also acting instructor, from 1955; TV director in Los Angeles, from 1960; directed first film, 1965; also produced his own films, from 1975. Awards: Emmy Award for The Game, 1966; Oscars for Best Film and Best Direction, for Out of Africa, 1986.

Films as Director:


The Slender Thread


This Property Is Condemned


The Swimmer (Perry) (d one sequence only); The Scalphunters


Castle Keep; They Shoot Horses, Don't They?


Jeremiah Johnson


The Way We Were


Three Days of the Condor; The Yakuza (Brotherhood of theYakuza) (+ pr)


Bobby Deerfield (+ pr)


The Electric Horseman


Absence of Malice (+ pr)


Tootsie (+ co-pr, role as George Fields)


Out of Africa (+ pr)


Havana (+ co-pr)


The Firm (+ pr)


Sabrina (+ pr)


Random Hearts (+ pr, role)

Other Films:


The Young Savages (Frankenheimer) (dialogue coach)


War Hunt (Sanders) (role as Sergeant Van Horn)


Il gattopardo (The Leopard) (Visconti) (supervisor of dubbed American version)


Scarecrow (Schatzberg) (pr)


Honeysuckle Rose (Schatzberg) (exec pr)


Songwriter (Rudolph) (pr); Sanford Meisner—The Theater'sBest Kept Secret (doc) (exec pr)


Bright Lights, Big City (Bridges) (pr)


Presumed Innocent (Pakula) (pr); White Palace (Mandoki) (exec pr)


The Player (Altman) (role); Death Becomes Her (role); Husbands and Wives (Allen) (role)


Flesh and Bone (Kloves) (exec pr); Sense and Sensibility(Lee) (exec pr)


Bronx County (Carter—for TV) (exec pr); Sliding Doors (Howitt) (pr); Poodle Springs (B. Rafelson—for TV) (exec pr); A Civil Action (Zaillian) (role)


The Talented Mr. Ripley (Minghella) (exec pr); Eyes WideShut (Kubrick) (role)


Up at the Villa (Haas) (exec pr)


The Quiet American (Noyce) (pr)


By POLLACK: book—

Out of Africa: The Shooting Script, with Kurt Luedke, New York, 1987.

By POLLACK: articles—

Interview with G. Langlois, in Cinéma (Paris), July/August 1972.

"Nos Plus Belles Années," an interview with Max Tessier, in Ecran (Paris), April 1974.

Interview with L. Salvato, in Millimeter (New York), June 1975.

"Sydney Pollack: The Way We Are," an interview with Patricia Erens, in Film Comment (New York), September/October 1975.

"Dialogue on Film: Sydney Pollack," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), April 1978.

"Sydney Pollack, An Actor's Director," an interview with P. Childs, in Millimeter (New York), December 1979.

Interview with P. Carcassonne and J. Fieschi, in Cinématographe (Paris), March/April 1981.

Interview with T. Ryan and S. Murray, in Cinema Papers (Melbourne), May/June 1983.

Interview in Post Script (Jacksonville, Florida), Fall 1983.

Interview with J. A. Gili and M. Henry, in Positif (Paris), April 1986.

"Dialogue on Film: Sydney Pollack," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), December 1986.

"Sydney Pollack," an interview with A. Dutertre, in Revue duCinéma (Paris), March 1991.

"Le papillon et l'ouragan: entretien avec Sydney Pollack," with M. Henry, in Positif (Paris), March 1991.

"Intervista a Sydney Pollack fra produzione e regia," with F. La Polla, in Cineforum (Bergamo), July/August 1991.

"J'espere que c'est a cause de Tootsie!" an interview with M. Henry, in Positif (Paris), December 1992.

"John Seale, ACS Lends Firm Hand to Law Thriller," an interview with Rick Baker and John Seale, in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), July 1993.

McGregor, Alex and Brian Case, "The Bright Stuff: That Thinking Feeling," in Time Out (London), 1 September 1993.

Segnocinema (Vicenza), January/February 1994.

Stivers, C., "Scions of the Times," in Premiere (Boulder), November 1995.

Hindes, A., "Pollack Packs Full Bag," in Variety (New York), 11/17 December 1995.

Jacobsen, M., "Copyright on Trial in Denmark," in Image Technology (London), May 1997.

On POLLACK: books—

Gili, Jean A., Sydney Pollack, Nice, 1971.

Taylor, William R. Sydney Pollack, Boston, 1981.

Leon, Michele, Sydney Pollack, Paris, 1991.

Dworkin, Susan, Making Tootsie: A Film Study with Dustin Hoffmanand Sydney Pollack, New York, 1991.

Meyer, Janet L., Sydney Pollack: A Critical Filmography, Jefferson, 1998.

On POLLACK: articles—

Madsen, Axel, "Pollack's Hollywood History," in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1973.

Massuyeau, M., "Dossier: Hollywood '79: Sydney Pollack," in Cinématographe (Paris), March 1979.

"Le Cavalier électrique Issue" of Avant-Scène du Cinéma (Paris), 15 June 1980.

Camy, G., "Sydney Pollack: Souvenirs d'Amérique," in JeuneCinéma (Paris), May/June 1986.

Wharton, Dennis, "Top Directors Get behind Film-Labeling Legislation," in Variety (Paris), 29 July 1991.

Bart, Peter, "Filmers Face the Future," in Variety (Paris), 15 November 1993.

Stevenson, Jack, "Pan-and-Scan," in Skrien (Amsterdam), April-May 1997.

* * *

Sydney Pollack is especially noted for his ability to elicit fine performances from his actors and actresses and has worked with leading Hollywood stars, including Robert Redford (who has appeared in five Pollack films), Jane Fonda, Barbra Streisand, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Newman, and Burt Lancaster, among others. Though Pollack has treated a cross-section of Hollywood genres, the majority of his films divide into male-action dramas and female melodramas. Among the former are The Scalphunters, Castle Keep, Jeremiah Johnson, Three Days of the Condor, and The Yakuza. Among the latter are The Slender Thread, This Property Is Condemned, The Way We Were, and Bobby Deerfield. The typical Pollack hero is a loner whose past interferes with his ability to function in the present. Throughout the course of the narrative, the hero comes to trust another individual and exchanges his isolation for a new relationship. For the most part, Pollack's heroines are intelligent women, often with careers, who possess moral strength, although in several cases they are victims of emotional weakness. Pollack is fond of portraying the attraction of opposites. The central issue in all of Pollack's work focuses on the conflict between cultural antagonists. This can be racial, as in The Slender Thread, The Scalphunters, or Jeremiah Johnson (black vs. white; white vs. Indian); religious, as in The Way We Were (Protestant vs. Jew); geographic, as in This Property Is Condemned and The Electric Horseman (city vs. town); nationalistic, as in Castle Keep (Europe vs. America; East vs. West); or based on gender differences, as in Tootsie (feminine vs. masculine).

Pollack's films do not possess a readily identifiable visual style. However, his works are generally noteworthy for their total visual effect, and he frequently utilizes the helicopter shot. Structurally the plots possess a circular form, often ending where they began. Visually this is echoed in the circular dance floor of They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, but is also apparent in Jeremiah Johnson and The Way We Were. Along with Sidney Lumet, Pollack is one of Hollywood's foremost liberals. His work highlights social and political issues, exposing organized exploitation rather than individual villainy. Most prominent among the issues treated are racial discrimination (The Scalphunters), the destructiveness of war (Castle Keep), the Depression (They Shoot Horses, Don't They?), Hollywood blacklisting (The Way We Were), CIA activities (Three Days of the Condor), commercial exploitation (The Electric Horseman), media exploitation (Absence of Malice), and feminism (Tootsie). Although Pollack has often been attacked for using these themes as background, rather than delving deeply into their subtleties, the French critics, among others, hold his work in high esteem.

Over the years, Pollack's cache in the Hollywood community has steadily risen. Unlike Lumet, to whom his work and directorial approach bear many similarities, he is not a New York director who occasionally works in Hollywood, but a Hollywood insider. His films make money and score multiple Oscar nominations. He is instantly forgiven for a failure like Havana, his sweeping attempt to recall the filmmaking styles of the Old Hollywood and such pictures as Casablanca. Because of all this, an American Film Institute Life Achievement Award cannot be long in coming for him. Pollack began his career as an actor and frequently appears, sometimes unbilled, in the films of other directors—though, ironically, not his own films a la Hitchcock (for whose legendary TV series Pollack both acted and directed). Woody Allen gave this former actor a particularly juicy part in Husbands and Wives. But Pollack prefers to direct, and with his standing in the industry he is able to command big budgets and big stars—and choice properties—for his work. His The Firm, based on the runaway best-seller by lawyer-turned-novelist John Grisham, and starring Tom Cruise, was a sizable hit, the film's alteration of the book's ending not even a minus with Grisham fans. His 1995 work, Sabrina, is, surprisingly, Pollack's first outright romantic comedy, a remake of the 1954 Billy Wilder gem, with Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond, and Greg Kinnear taking the respective roles of Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, and William Holden.

—Patricia Erens, updated by John McCarty

Pollack, Sydney

views updated Jun 11 2018


POLLACK, SYDNEY (1934– ), U.S. film director and producer. Born in Lafayette, Indiana, Pollack first learned his craft by directing many tv episodes of such programs as Ben Casey, The Defenders, Dr. Kildare, The Fugitive, and The Naked City. Pollack then initiated his career as a feature film director with The Slender Thread (1965), and over the past decades has directed varied cinematic fare, including This Property Is Condemned (1966), The Scalp-hunters (1968), Castle Keep (1969), They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (Oscar nomination for Best Director, 1969), Jeremiah Johnson (1972), The Way We Were (1973), The Yakuza (1975), Three Days of the Condor (1975), Bobby Deerfield (1977), The Electric Horseman (1979), Absence of Malice (1981), Tootsie (Oscar nomination for Best Picture and Best Director, 1982), Out of Africa (Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director, 1985), Havana (1990), The Firm (1993), Sabrina (1995), Random Hearts (1999), Sketches of Frank Gehry (2005), and The Interpreter (2005).

Pollack produced more than 40 films, which include many of the above, as well as other successes such as Songwriter (1984), The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989), Dead Again (1991), King Ralph (1991), Leaving Normal (1992), Sense and Sensibility (1995), Sliding Doors (1998), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), Iris (2001), Heaven (2002), The Quiet American (2002), and Cold Mountain (2003).

He also acted in several films, such as Tootsie, Robert Altman's The Player (1992), Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives (1992), Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut (1999), Random Hearts, and Roger Michell's Changing Lanes (2002).


J. Meyer, Sydney Pollack: A Critical Filmography (1998); S. Dworkin, Making Tootsie (1983); W. Taylor Sydney Pollack (1981).

[Jonathan Licht and

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]