Sydney Pollack, who directed the comedy Tootsie and the Oscar-winning Out of Africa, died of cancer on Monday. He was 73. Pollack earned recognition in Hollywood as a producer, writer, actor, and director. Recently, he appeared alongside George Clooney in Michael Clayton, which he also co-produced. "Sydney made the world a little better, movies a little better, and even dinner a little better," Clooney said. (AP)
What the commentators said
"A tall, handsome, immediately charismatic man, he was a director most actors loved to work with," said Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times. Pollack himself once told me, "I haven’t broken any new ground in the form of a film. My strength is with actors." And he was right. As a director, bringing people together and getting the best out of his actors was his greatest strength.
As an actor or director, Pollack certainly earned himself a place of honor in Hollywood, said Micheal Cieply in The New York Times, but he was "self-critical and never quite at ease with Hollywood." He "voiced a constant yearning for creative prerogatives" that he managed to express in movies such as his 1970 They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, which received nine Oscar nominations.
Pollack certainly had an impressive body of work, but what's even more impressive is how long he remained relevant, said Xan Brooks in The Guardian's The Blog. "Cinema's aging bulls usually enjoy a period of gentle decline before the inevitable exit," but "not so Sydney Pollack." Even at the time of his death, he had two films in post-production—Margaret and The Reader. Pollack said that he never reinvented cinema, and maybe he didn't—but he was an "intelligent, versatile, and often brilliant film-maker. Cinema is poorer without him."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why ABC threw its Bachelor under the bus
- Why I'm sick and tired of seeing naked women on HBO
- Why Ted Cruz is the real-life Frank Underwood
- Here's proof that Justin Bieber is just as spoiled as you always thought
- 10 things you need to know today: March 12, 2014
- How rain helped the Mongols conquer Asia
- Why are so many elderly Asians killing themselves?
- Here's how Iran is covering Russia's invasion of Crimea
- Poll: Twice as many Americans say sugar is more harmful than marijuana
- True Detective's dangerous lies about satanic ritual abuse
Subscribe to the Week