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Alan J. Pakula

Alan J. Pakula

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Also Known As: Alan Jay Pakula, Alan Pakula Died: November 19, 1998
Born: April 7, 1928 Cause of Death: accident while driving
Birth Place: Bronx, New York, USA Profession: director, producer, screenwriter, production assistant

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Known for drawing Oscar caliber performances out of his actors while helming suspenseful, moody thrillers, director Alan J. Pakula emerged from the theater world to produce a number of quality films in the 1960s with director Robert Mulligan, most notably the iconic adaptation of Harper Lee's novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962). He went on to produce another six films with Mulligan during the decade before stepping into the director's chair himself for the low-key melodrama "The Sterile Cuckoo" (1969). But with his next picture, "Klute" (1971), Pakula began cementing his reputation as a fine practitioner of the conspiracy thriller while showcasing exemplary performances from his leading actors. He went on to practically define the genre with "The Parallax View" (1974), a box office disappointment at the time that later earned a reputation as one of the best conspiracy thrillers ever made. Pakula rounded out his so-called paranoia trilogy with "All the President's Men" (1976), arguably his finest achievement and one of the best movies of the entire decade. With the tearjerker drama "Sophie's Choice" (1983), he tackled the exceedingly difficult subject of the Holocaust in exceptional fashion while...

Known for drawing Oscar caliber performances out of his actors while helming suspenseful, moody thrillers, director Alan J. Pakula emerged from the theater world to produce a number of quality films in the 1960s with director Robert Mulligan, most notably the iconic adaptation of Harper Lee's novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962). He went on to produce another six films with Mulligan during the decade before stepping into the director's chair himself for the low-key melodrama "The Sterile Cuckoo" (1969). But with his next picture, "Klute" (1971), Pakula began cementing his reputation as a fine practitioner of the conspiracy thriller while showcasing exemplary performances from his leading actors. He went on to practically define the genre with "The Parallax View" (1974), a box office disappointment at the time that later earned a reputation as one of the best conspiracy thrillers ever made. Pakula rounded out his so-called paranoia trilogy with "All the President's Men" (1976), arguably his finest achievement and one of the best movies of the entire decade. With the tearjerker drama "Sophie's Choice" (1983), he tackled the exceedingly difficult subject of the Holocaust in exceptional fashion while allowing star Meryl Streep to deliver an Oscar-winning performance that long remained the best of her storied career. Later in his career, Pakula began delivering rather underwhelming, but nonetheless financially successful movies like "The Pelican Brief" (1993), which nonetheless helped cap a sterling career highlighted by some the best movies Hollywood had to offer.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Devil's Own, The (1997) Director
2.
  The Pelican Brief (1993) Director
3.
  Consenting Adults (1992) Director
4.
  Presumed Innocent (1990) Director
5.
  See You in the Morning (1989) Director
6.
  Orphans (1987) Director
7.
  Dream Lover (1986) Director
8.
  Sophie's Choice (1982) Director
9.
  Rollover (1981) Director
10.
  Starting Over (1979) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1944:
Worked as an office boy for agent Leland Hayward for two months before attending college
:
Directed plays at the Circle Theatre in Los Angeles
1949:
Began career as assistant in Warner Bros. cartoon department
1950:
Joined MGM as apprentice to writer-producer-director Don Hartman
1951:
Remained Hartman's assistant when he became production head at Paramount
:
While continuing his Hollywood career, produced several New York stage productions including "There Must Be a Pony" with Myrna Loy and "Comes a Day", starring George C Scott and Judith Anderson
1957:
Produced first film, the biopic of Jimmy Piersall "Fear Strikes Out", beginning a seven-film collaboration with director Robert Mulligan
1962:
With Mulligan, formed Pakula-Mulligan Productions
1968:
Produced final film for Mulligan, "The Stalking Man"
1963:
Second Pakula-Mulligan production, "Love With a Proper Stranger", was success
1967:
Had box-office hit with "Up the Down Staricase", starring Sandy Dennis
1969:
Feature directorial debut, "The Sterile Cuckoo" (also produced)
1971:
Delivered top-notch detective-thriller cum character-study "Klute" (co-produced)
1971:
Delivered top-notch detective-thriller-cum-character-study "Klute"; also co-produced; steered Jane Fonda to a Best Actress Oscar
1974:
Helmed the underrated political thriller "The Parallax View", starring Warren Beatty
1976:
Received Best Director Oscar nomination for "All the President's Men"; Jason Robards received Best Supporting Actor Oscar
1978:
Reteamed with Jane Fonda and Jason Robards for the Western "Comes a Horseman"
1979:
Directed the serio-comic look at divorce "Starting Over", starring Burt Reynolds, Candice Bergen and Jill Clayburgh
1981:
Third outing with Jane Fonda, the thriller "Rollover"
1982:
First feature screenplay credit, adapting "Sophie's Choice" from the William Styron novel; received Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay; also directed and produced; star Meryl Streep won Best Actress Oscar
1990:
Directed film version of Scott Turow's "Presumed Innocent" (also co-wrote with Frank Pierson)
1993:
Wrote, directed and produced "The Pelican Brief", adapted form the John Grisham novel
1997:
Shepherded the troubled "The Devil's Own" production to conclusion; rewarded for his pains by mostly positive reviews
1998:
Appeared as interviewee in Lifetime documentary, "Intimate Portrait: Katherine Graham"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Bronx High School of Science: Bronx , New York -
Hill School: Pottstown , Pennsylvania - 1944
Yale University: New Haven , Connecticut - 1948

Notes

Pakula was killed in a freak accident when a seven-foot-long metal pipe smashed through his windshield and struck him in the head. His car swerved off the Long Island Expressway near the Melville exit and struck a fence. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Posthumously inducted into the Producers Guild Hall of Fame in 1999.

"The reason I became a director was that I've always loved actors." --Alan J Pakula

"I am oblique. I think it has to do with my own nature. I like trying to do things which work on many levels, because I think it is terribly important to give an audience a lot of things they may not get as well as those they will, so that finally the film does take on a texture and is not just simplistic communication." --Pakula quoted in "The St. James Film Directors Encyclopedia" (edited by Andrew Sarris; New York: Visible Ink Press 1998)

"['See You in the Morning' is] about people who've had other lives and now are falling in love and about the difficulty in dealing with the lives we had before. It's about being able to break through your own defenses so you can fall in love again. It reflects my feelings about love--romantic love--and the family, and about my observation that at a certain age you better co-exist well or you won't survive. It also reflects my optimism, and I guess more than anything else it's an ode to falling in love and being in love." --Alan J Pakula in LOS ANGELES TIMES, March 5, 1989

"There's rewriting, and there's rewriting. There's rewriting when you start to make one kind of movie and then everybody panics and you wind up making another movie. That was never the case here ['The Devil's Own']. How to tell the story might have changed; individual plot things might have changed. It was always telling the same story." --Pakula to THE NEW YORK TIMES, March 31, 1997

About "The Devil's Own": "What do you do when you have to chose between friendship and duty? That is the Sophie's Choice at the end of this movie. The truth is I seem to be attracted to certain subject material and in a lot of it people aren't exactly who you think they are . . .

"We've already been slammed in the London and Conservative MPs based upon the trailer saying it's a pro-IRA picture. They come out with that based upon the fact that there's one scene in which Harrison Ford says, 'If I was eight years old and I saw my father shot down, I'd do what he did.'

"What they don't know is that it's a moment when that man is out to bring him back to justice. The picture represents both sides. To say that makes it pro-IRA, I think, is nonsense and that was certainly never the intention of it." --Alan J Pakula quoted in EMPIRE, June 1997

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Hope Lange. Actor. Married in 1963; divorced in 1969; had three children from a previous marriage.
wife:
Hannah Cohn Boorstin. Historian, writer. Author of "The Last Romantic" about Queen Marie of Romania; married on February 17, 1973; had three children from previous marriage.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Paul Pakula. Business owner. Polish Jew; owned a printing and advertising business in NYC.
mother:
Jeanette Pakula. Polish Jew.
step-son:
Christopher Murray. Born in 1957; son of Hope Lange and Don Murray.
step-daughter:
Patricia Murray. Born in 1958; daughter of Hope Lange and Don Murray.
step-son:
Robert Boorstin. Government official, former reporter. Served with the US Treasury Department; spoke publicly about his battles with depresson; son of Hannah Boorstin and her first husband.
step-son:
Louis Boorstin. Son of Hannah Boorstin and her first husband.
step-daughter:
Anna Boorstin Brugge. Daughter of Hannah Boorstin and her first husband.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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