Sydney Pollack


Director, Producer
Sydney Pollack

About

Also Known As
Sydney Irwin Pollack
Birth Place
Lafayette, Indiana
Born
July 01, 1934
Died
May 26, 2008

Biography

As an Oscar-winning director-producer-actor, Sydney Pollack was remembered as a filmmaker capable of delivering A-list star power in commercially successful, as well as artistically respectable, feature films throughout the 1970s and ‘80s. A career that began as an actor and acting coach eventually led to directing, thanks to the advice of actor Burt Lancaster. After years of honing his ...

Family & Companions

Claire Griswold
Wife
Architect. Married in 1958; former student of her husband.

Notes

Pollack broke his hip in January 2000.

"If you get the recipe for Coca-Cola down, the rest of it is just marketing. They're now trying to do that with movies, and it's not going to work, because you re-invent the art form every time you make a movie. You can't sell them like other products. Marketing costs have skyrocketed... and this marketing thing will get a picture open, but it won't do anything beyond that."Look, I thought 'Havana' was a good movie. I didn't do anything different on 'Havana' than I did on 'Out of Africa'... But the people [moviegoers] didn't like it. If I could control that... I'd make nothing but hits, retire and sell the recipe... It doesn't work like that."---Sydney Pollack quoted in USA Today, June 30, 1993.

Biography

As an Oscar-winning director-producer-actor, Sydney Pollack was remembered as a filmmaker capable of delivering A-list star power in commercially successful, as well as artistically respectable, feature films throughout the 1970s and ‘80s. A career that began as an actor and acting coach eventually led to directing, thanks to the advice of actor Burt Lancaster. After years of honing his directorial skills on television, Pollack began picking up feature film work in the mid-‘60s. The grueling Depression-era drama "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" (1969) garnered him his first Academy Award nomination and put Pollack on the map as a director of note. He would direct Robert Redford in a total of seven movies, with efforts like "The Way We Were" (1973) and "Three Days of the Condor" (1975) numbering among the star’s most popular. Despite the rocky relationship with the film’s leading man, Dustin Hoffman, "Tootsie" (1982) elevated the director to an elite level of power and prestige in Hollywood few enjoyed. Pollack went on to win two Oscars as a director and producer for his work on the sweeping romance "Out of Africa" (1985). And while the latter film marked the apex of Pollack’s directing career, he continued to turn in deft performances as an actor on such hit series as "Will & Grace" (NBC, 1998-2006) and in acclaimed films like "Michael Clayton" (2007). Consistently in tune with the socio-political themes of the time, Pollack effectively tapped in to the American psyche time and again throughout his decades-long filmmaking career.

Born on July 1, 1934 in Lafayette, IN, Pollack was the oldest of three children reared by father David, a former professional boxer-turned-pharmacist, and Rebecca, who divorced his father, developed emotional problems and became an alcoholic, dying tragically at age 37 when Pollack was only 16. Though his father always wanted him to become a dentist, Pollack instead picked up and moved to New York City after graduating high school to become an actor. He took up residence at the YMCA, then looked for the right place to study acting, finally settling on the Neighborhood Playhouse. Pollack spent his first year learning the craft with legendary acting coach Sanford Meisner, who hired the young aspirant as his assistant during his second year of study. Precocious, self-possessed and attentive at a young age, Pollack soon developed a reputation for being a solid instructor, teaching Meisner's technique to the likes of Robert Duvall, Brenda Vaccaro and Rip Torn.

Pollack taught at the Neighborhood Playhouse from 1954-1960, though he took two years off in between to serve in the U.S. Army. He realized, however, that acting would prove limiting because of his character actor looks. Meanwhile, director John Frankenheimer cast Pollack for an episode of "Playhouse 90" (CBS, 1956-1960), then hired him as an acting coach for youngsters on a television production of "The Turn of the Screw" (NBC, 1959). Frankenheimer again hired Pollack to perform the same job on "The Young Savages" (1961), starring Burt Lancaster. It was Lancaster who propelled Pollack into directing when the star called Lew Wasserman, then head of Universal Studios, to give the kid a shot. Wasserman agreed, allowing Pollack to earn $75 a week to sit on set and watch. After six months, he was given the chance to direct an episode of "Shotgun Slade" (syndicated, 1959-60), a Western series that was about to be canceled. The studio had nothing to lose in case Pollack failed. Deemed an artistic successs, Pollack soon became a prominent television director.

For the next five years, Pollack helmed episodes of "Ben Casey" (ABC, 1961-66), "The Defenders" (CBS, 1961-65) and "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (CBS-NBC, 1955-1965). Along the way, he earned three Emmy Award nominations, eventually winning a statue in 1966 for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Drama for an episode of "Bob Hope Presents The Chrysler Theatre" (NBC, 1963-67). Naturally, Pollack began fielding offers to direct features and made his debut with "The Slender Thread" (1965), a competent suspense drama about a student volunteer (Sidney Poitier) at a medical clinic who answers the phone call of a woman (Anne Bancroft) slowly dying from an overdose of sleeping bills after her husband had learned their son was conceived by another man. His next project, "This Property Is Condemned" (1966), marked the first of seven collaborations with Robert Redford, a forgettable effort that was soon followed by "The Scalphunters" (1968) and "Castle Keep" (1969). Then Pollack scored his first major success with "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" (1969), a harrowing drama set during a Depression-era dance marathon that ends with murder. The film earned seven Academy Award nominations, including Pollack's first for Best Director.

Pollack next made "Jeremiah Johnson" (1972), a stark western about an ex-soldier (Redford) in 1850 who escapes civilization to live life peaceably on the frontier with the help of a grizzled mountain veteran (Will Geer), only to become a legendary Indian killer after his family is massacred. The anti-colonialist theme fit nicely into the anti-war fervor at the time, making "Jeremiah Johnson" a huge box office hit. Pollack followed with another success, "The Way We Were" (1973), an old-fashioned love story pairing Redford and Barbra Streisand as a couple struggling to maintain their affair during turbulent times and despite being polar opposites. Pollack missed the mark with "The Yakuza" (1975), starring Robert Mitchum as a former soldier trying to rescue the daughter of a friend (Brian Keith) from the Japanese mafia. But he returned to form with "Three Days of the Condor" (1975), a sharp political thriller about a CIA analyst (Redford) who goes on the run after an assassin kills his partners. Pollack recorded two more missteps to round out the decade, starting with "Bobby Deerfield" (1976), then "The Electric Horseman" (1979), a romantic comedy about a has-been rodeo star (Redford)-turned-Las Vegas sideshow who falls for a reporter (Jane Fonda) trying to understand why he rode off into the desert on an injured horse.

In the early-to-mid 1980s, Pollack made a trio of films that marked his most fertile period. It started with "Absence of Malice" (1981), a tense drama about an ambitious journalist (Sally Field) investigating the murder of a longshoreman, in which a reclusive businessman (Paul Newman) has been implicated, only to become deeply involved in the quest to prove his innocence. Next up was possibly his most loved feature outside of "The Way We Were;" Pollack enjoyed huge commercial and critical success directing "Tootsie" (1982), a gender-bending comedy about a struggling actor (Dustin Hoffman) who decides to dress up as an older woman to boost his acting career. Pollack had a memorable role as the actor's combative agent; infamous stories of major behind-the-scenes disagreements between Pollack and Hoffman only added palpable tension to their onscreen scenes. Meanwhile, "Tootsie" was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Pollack's second nod for Best Director. Pollack finally won his Oscar with "Out of Africa" (1985), the sumptuous adaptation of writer Isak Dinesen's (Meryl Streep) memoirs which focused on her love affair with Denys Finch Hatton (Redford) during her days as the owner of a Kenyan coffee plantation. The film went on to earn 11 nominations and seven wins, including for Best Picture and Best Director.

The resounding accolades for his triumphant with "Out of Africa" soon descended into howls of resentment for "Havana" (1990), an obvious take on "Casablanca" (1942), loaded with painful dialogue and a meandering plot about a cynical gambler (Redford again!) who gets involved with the wife (Lena Olin) of a revolutionary in 1958 Cuba. The anticipated heat between Redford and Olin sputtered from a lack of screen chemistry and abbreviated sex scenes. The pillorying from critics and the miserable take at the box office left Pollack shaken and particularly cautious in selecting his next project. He finally settled on the adaptation of John Grisham's best-selling legal thriller, "The Firm" (1993), a tense morality tale about a young hotshot lawyer (Tom Cruise) recently graduated from Harvard who is drafted into a prestigious Memphis firm which just happens to have heavy ties to organized crime. When he tries to extricate himself, however, the young lawyer suddenly learns that anyone who tries to leave ends up dead. In hindsight a solid thriller that was really nothing special, "The Firm" nonetheless earned over $150 million at the box office – due mainly to star Cruise's onscreen charms.

In 1985, Pollack formed Mirage Enterprises and began serving as a producer on several successful projects with other directors, including "Bright Lights, Big City" (1988), "The Fabulous Baker Boys" (1989), "Presumed Innocent" (1990), "Dead Again" (1991), "Searching for Bobby Fischer" (1993) and the Oscar-nominated "Sense and Sensibility" (1995). Pollack used the Mirage umbrella for "Sabrina" (1995), his woeful remake of the 1954 romantic comedy about the daughter (Julia Ormond) of a wealthy family's butler (John Wood) who returns from Paris a grown woman, much to the delight of the family's eldest brother (Harrison Ford). Meanwhile, he began devoting more time to acting, receiving kudos for his major supporting performance in Woody Allen's "Husbands and Wives" (1992), playing an upper-Manhattan professional who leaves his wife (Judy Davis) of many years marriage for another woman. That same year, he appeared in both Robert Altman's "The Player" (1992) and Robert Zemeckis' "Death Becomes Her" (1992). In 1999, Pollack did a little bit of everything: acting in Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut," directing the fizzled romance "Random Hearts," and serving as producer on "Up at the Villa" and "The Talented Mr. Ripley."

As executive producer, Pollack racked up a solid resume of commercial and critical hits that centered on strong acting performances, steering such projects as "Birthday Girl" (2000) with Nicole Kidman, "Iris" (2001) with Kate Winslet and Dame Judi Dench, "Heaven" (2002) with Cate Blanchett, "The Quiet American" (2002) with Michael Caine, Anthony Minghella's multi-award-nominated "Cold Mountain" (2003) and the documentary "In the Name of Love" (2003). Acting roles also continued rolling in, including a recurring role as George Truman, the supportive but philandering father of Will (Eric McCormack) on the popular sitcom, "Will & Grace" (NBC, 1998-2006). Meanwhile, he delivered a solid turn as Ben Affleck's boss in the compelling thriller "Changing Lanes" (2002).

Pollack stayed away from the director's chair for several years, not returning until 2005 when he helmed "The Interpreter." Though not as poignant as "Three Days of the Condor," the action-packed political thriller was notable as being the first film ever shot at the United Nations. The film cast Kidman as a U.N. interpreter who overhears a life-threatening conversation in a language only she and a handful of people on the planet understand, leading to a federal agent (Sean Penn) being dispatched to uncover the plot, only to suspect the interpreter of hiding the larger truth. Though well-acted and solidly shot, "The Interpreter" was the recipient of decidedly mixed reviews that slammed the film for being too generic. Meanwhile, Pollack made his first foray into documentary filmmaking with "Sketches of Frank Gehry" (2005), an intimate look at the famous architect who achieved the rare feat of successfully turning building design into art on his way to becoming a popular figure in American culture.

Returning to his original craft, Pollack gave a typically strong performance as the head of a New York law firm who dispatches his morally conflicted corporate fixer (George Clooney) to clean up his client's messes in the high-minded thriller, "Michael Clayton" (2007). Pollack also served as one of the producers and was named when "Michael Clayton" earned an Oscar nod for Best Picture. After serving as executive producer on Clooney's mediocre comedy about the early days of football, "Leatherheads" (2008), he co-starred in the slapstick romantic comedy, "Made of Honor" (2008), playing the father of a man (Patrick Dempsey) who is the maid of honor at the wedding of the woman (Michelle Monaghan) he loves. Sadly, "Made of Honor" proved to be the last time audiences would see Pollack onscreen. He was diagnosed in 2007 with cancer and succumbed to his illness on May 26, 2008 in his Pacific Palisades home, surrounded by family. He was 73.

By Shawn Dwyer

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Sketches of Frank Gehry (2006)
Director
The Interpreter (2005)
Director
Random Hearts (1999)
Director
Sabrina (1995)
Director
The Firm (1993)
Director
Havana (1990)
Director
Out Of Africa (1985)
Director
Tootsie (1982)
Director
Absence Of Malice (1981)
Director
The Electric Horseman (1979)
Director
Bobby Deerfield (1977)
Director
Three Days of the Condor (1975)
Director
The Yakuza (1974)
Director
The Way We Were (1973)
Director
Jeremiah Johnson (1972)
Director
Castle Keep (1969)
Director
They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969)
Director
The Swimmer (1968)
Addl Director (see note)
The Scalphunters (1968)
Director
This Property Is Condemned (1966)
Director
The Slender Thread (1965)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Made of Honor (2008)
Pierre Rissient: Man of Cinema (2007)
Michael Clayton (2007)
Marty Bach
Avenue Montaigne (2006)
Changing Lanes (2002)
Fidel (2001)
Himself
The Majestic (2001)
Voice
Random Hearts (1999)
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
A Civil Action (1998)
Independent's Day (1997)
Himself
Burt Lancaster: Daring To Reach (1996)
Death Becomes Her (1992)
Husbands and Wives (1992)
The Player (1992)
Robert Mitchum: The Reluctant Star (1991)
Hello Actors Studio (1987)
Himself
Tootsie (1982)
War Hunt (1962)
Sergeant Van Horn

Cinematography (Feature Film)

Sketches of Frank Gehry (2006)
Video

Producer (Feature Film)

Margaret (2011)
Producer
Recount (2008)
Executive Producer
The Reader (2008)
Producer
Leatherheads (2008)
Executive Producer
Michael Clayton (2007)
Producer
Breaking and Entering (2006)
Producer
Sketches of Frank Gehry (2006)
Executive Producer
Catch a Fire (2006)
Executive Producer
Forty Shades of Blue (2005)
Executive Producer
The Interpreter (2005)
Executive Producer
The Quiet American (2002)
Executive Producer
Heaven (2002)
Executive Producer
Birthday Girl (2001)
Executive Producer
Blow Dry (2001)
Executive Producer
Iris (2001)
Executive Producer
Up At the Villa (2000)
Executive Producer
Random Hearts (1999)
Producer
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Executive Producer
Sliding Doors (1998)
Producer
Poodle Springs (1998)
Executive Producer
Sense and Sensibility (1995)
Executive Producer
Sabrina (1995)
Producer
Flesh and Bone (1993)
Executive Producer
The Firm (1993)
Producer
Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993)
Executive Producer
A Private Matter (1992)
Executive Producer
Leaving Normal (1992)
Executive Producer
King Ralph (1991)
Executive Producer
Dead Again (1991)
Executive Producer
Presumed Innocent (1990)
Producer
White Palace (1990)
Executive Producer
Havana (1990)
Producer
Major League (1989)
Executive Producer
The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)
Executive Producer
Bright Lights, Big City (1988)
Producer
Out Of Africa (1985)
Producer
Songwriter (1984)
Producer
Tootsie (1982)
Producer
Absence Of Malice (1981)
Producer
Honeysuckle Rose (1980)
Executive Producer
Bobby Deerfield (1977)
Producer
Three Days of the Condor (1975)
Producer
The Yakuza (1974)
Producer

Film Production - Main (Feature Film)

The Leopard (1963)
Supervisoru. s. dub vers
The Young Savages (1961)
Dial coach

Production Companies (Feature Film)

They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969)
Company

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Fidel (2001)
Other
Independent's Day (1997)
Other
Hello Actors Studio (1987)
Other

Director (Special)

The Fliers (1965)
Director
The Watchman (1964)
Director
Diagnosis: Danger (1963)
Director

Cast (Special)

Boffo! Tinseltown's Bombs and Blockbusters (2006)
AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Meryl Streep (2004)
Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin (2003)
Narrator
The Score (2002)
Robert Redford (2002)
AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Barbra Streisand (2001)
Performer
Dustin Hoffman: First in His Class (2001)
Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (2001)
Robert Redford: Hollywood Outlaw (2000)
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs (2000)
Hollywood, D.C.: A Tale of Two Cities (2000)
Intimate Portrait: Teri Garr (2000)
Independent's Day (1998)
Intimate Portrait: Jessica Lange (1998)
Burt Lancaster (1997)
Planet Hollywood Salutes the Top 10 Comedy Movies of All-Time (1995)
John Barry's Moviola (1993)
Willie Nelson The Big Six-O: An All-Star Birthday Celebration (1993)
Street Scenes: New York on Film (1992)
Jessica Lange: It's Only Make-Believe (1991)
Robert Redford & Sydney Pollack: The Men and Their Movies (1990)
The New Hollywood (1990)
Sanford Meisner: The Theater's Best Kept Secret (1990)
Natalie Wood (1987)
Putting It Together: The Making of the Broadway Album (1986)

Cinematography (Special)

Sanford Meisner: The Theater's Best Kept Secret (1990)
Video

Producer (Special)

Sanford Meisner: The Theater's Best Kept Secret (1990)
Executive Producer

Life Events

1954

Beginning at age 19, assisted Sanford Meisner and taught acting at Neighborhood Playhouse for six years

1954

Off-Broadway acting debut in "A Stone for Danny Fisher" starring Zero Mostel and Sylvia Miles

1955

Broadway acting debut in Christopher Fry's "Dark Is Light Enough"

1959

Acted on TV in a "Playhouse 90" production of "For Whom the Bell Tolls" directed by John Frankenheimer

1961

Served as Dialogue coach for Frankenheimer's "The Young Savages" starring Burt Lancaster

1962

Feature film acting debut, "War Hunt"; also Robert Redford's debut

1963

Served as voice dubbing supervisor of the American version of Luchino Visconti's "Il Gattopardo/The Leopard" (at Burt Lancaster's request)

1964

"Chrysler Theatre" telecast of his "Two is the Number"; won International TV Festival Award in Monte Carlo

1965

Directed first feature, "The Slender Thread" starring Sidney Poitier and Anne Bancroft

1966

First of seven movies directing Redford, "This Property is Condemned"

1969

Directed (also produced) the film "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?"; Pollack's first producing credit; received first Best Director Academy Award nomination

1972

Directed Redford in "Jeremiah Johnson"; won American Heritage Award for Best Western

1973

Directed Redford and Barbra Streisand in "The Way We Were"

1980

Participated in American Legion Seminar with James Woods

1981

Became executive director (with Lee Strasberg) of the Actors Studio in L.A.

1982

First feature acting appearance in 20 years as Dustin Hoffman's agent in "Tootsie"; also directed and produced by Pollack; earned Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Picture

1983

Agreed to work with Nova film production company as creative consultant; venture organized by Columbia, HBO and CBS

1985

Earned two Oscars, one as producer (Best Picture) and one as Best Director for "Out of Africa"; co-starred Redford and Meryl Streep

1985

Formed production company, Mirage Productions Inc.

1986

Served as jury president at 39th Cannes Film Festival

1989

Split with Mark Rosenberg as partners in Mirage Productions Inc. after three years; company renamed Mirage Enterprises

1989

Sued by producer Richard Roth for over $1 million after being excluded from production of "Havana" (when Pollack decided to produce and direct himself) on which he had worked for 15 years (when project was known as "The New Orleans Story"), released in 1990, it was his last picture (to date) directing Redford

1992

Acted in Woody Allen's "Husbands and Wives" and Robert Altman's "The Player"

1993

Directed and produced "The Firm"; first movie adapted from a John Grisham novel

1995

Remade Billy Wilder's "Sabrina" (1954), starring Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond and Greg Kinnear

1998

Executive produced "Poodle Springs," an HBO movie adapted from the Robert B Parker novel based on an unfinished manuscript by Raymond Chandler

1998

Replaced Harvey Keitel, acting in Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut" (film completed 1998; released in 1999)

1999

Directed "Random Hearts," a failed romance teaming Kristin Scott Thomas and Harrison Ford

1999

Executive produced "The Talented Mr. Ripley"; written and directed by Anthony Minghella

2000

Had occasional recurring role on the NBC sitcom "Will & Grace" playing Will's (Eric McCormack) father

2000

Executive produced "Up at the Villa" starring Kristin Scott Thomas

2000

Joined by Minghella as a full partner in Mirage Enterprises

2002

Served as one of the producers on the remake of "The Quiet American"

2003

Produced Anthony Minghella's "Cold Mountain" starring Jude Law and Nicole Kidman

2005

Directed Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn in "The Interpreter"

2006

Helmed a documentary about the famed architect, "Sketches of Frank Gehry"

2007

Co-starred (also produced) with George Clooney in Tony Gilroy's "Michael Clayton"; earned an Oscar nomination for Best Picture

2008

Executive produced the HBO film, "Recount"

Videos

Movie Clip

Yakuza, The (1974) - You Think I'm Too Old? First appearance of top-billed Robert Mitchum, in Los Angeles, as low-energy detective and WWII vet Harry, taking a call from war buddy and Tokyo-based businessman Tanner (Brian Keith), who’s just been threatened by Japanese gangsters, who mentions an old love interest (Keiko Kishi), in The Yakuza, 1974.
Yakuza, The (1974) - Justice, Peace And Humanity Complex exposition by director Sydney Pollack, from the screenplay by Leonard and Paul Schrader and Robert Towne, as Japanese-resident American WWII vet Wheat (Herb Edelman) explains for youngster Dusty (Richard Jordan), the son of another war-buddy, the background of Harry (Robert Mitchum), with whom he’s traveling, and his old-flame Eiko (Keiko Kishi), in The Yakuza, 1974.
Yakuza, The (1974) - Get Rid Of Thinking Director and producer Sydney Pollack introduces the celebrated Japanese actor Ken Takakura, in only his second Hollywood picture and his first substantial role, as Kendo martial arts guru and underworld figure Tanaka Ken, visited in Kyoto by American private eye and WWII vet Harry Kilmer (Robert Mitchum), to whom he owes a profound family debt, in The Yakuza, 1974.
Yakuza, The (1974) - Open, A Losing Number Stylish framing and staging in the opening, compromised maybe by dorky 1970's men's fashion which has, evidently, consumed Tokyo, with Kyosuke Machida as Japanese mob messenger Kato performing a rite (with Akiyama Masaru) in service of chieftan Tono (Eiji Okada), in Sydney Pollack's often-overlooked The Yakuza, 1974, starring Robert Mitchum and Ken Takakura.
Absence Of Malice (1981) - Off The Record Miami reporter Megan (Sally Field), with editor McAdam (Josef Sommer), decides to visit scheming Federal union-corruption task force lawyer Rosen (Bob Balaban), early in Sydney Pollack's Absence Of Malice, 1981.
Absence Of Malice (1981) - He's My Best Friend Miami businessman Michael (Paul Newman) arrives home to find friend and catholic-school secretary Teresa (Melinda Dillon) worrying about his being named in a newspaper story about a presumed murder, early in Sydney Pollack's Absence Of Malice, 1981.
Absence Of Malice (1981) - Dealing With Girilfriends Catholic school secretary Teresa (Melinda Dillon) meets reporter Megan (Sally Field), hoping to alibi her murder suspect friend (Paul Newman, not seen), revealing her secret almost an hour into the film, in Sydney Pollack's Absence Of Malice, 1981.
Honeysuckle Rose (1980) - She's Still Sayin' Ain't At a Texas picnic for recently-returned singing star Buck Bonham (Willie Nelson), with wife Dyan Cannon (title character), and introducing Amy Irving as Lily, daughter of his retired guitarist, who’s teaching his son Jamie (Joey Floyd) to play, ending with Willie’s own song Crazy, in Honeysuckle Rose, 1980.
Jeremiah Johnson (1972) - She's Called The Swan Unhappily allied with Del Gue (Stefan Gierasch), having accidentally obligated the Flathead (Indian) chief (Richard Angarola) to give him a substantial gift, Robert Redford (title character) receives Swan (Delle Bolton), then departs with his also-unwanted child (Josh Albee), in Jeremiah Johnson, 1972.
Jeremiah Johnson (1972) - Being Of Sound Mind And Broke Legs Introduced with an overture and a theme song, having been instructed to “turn left at the Rocky Mountains,” aspiring mountain-man Robert Redford (title character) meets a deceased compatriot and loses a mule, early in Sydney Pollack’s Jeremiah Johnson, 1972.
Jeremiah Johnson (1972) - You're A Fine Target His first encounter with a living person in the post-Civil War western wilderness, novice mountain-man Robert Redford (title character) meets grizzled grizzly hunter Bear Claw (Will Geer), who isn’t overly friendly, early in Sydney Pollack’s Jeremiah Johnson, 1972.
Jeremiah Johnson (1972) - We Have Graves To Dig Now much more competent after spending the winter with an experienced trapper, Robert Redford (title character) comes upon a newly bereaved mother (Allyn Ann McLerie), victim of an Indian raid, in Sydney Pollack’s Jeremiah Johnson, 1972.

Trailer

Firm, The (1993) -- (Original Trailer) Original trailer for producer-director Sydney Pollack’s hit adaptation of writer John Grisham’s The Firm, 1993, the first film based on a Grisham novel, starring Tom Cruise, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, Holly Hunter, Wilford Brimley and Paul Sorvino.
Sense And Sensibility - (Original Trailer) Emma Thompson adapted and stars in Jane Austen's classic tale of two sisters with different romantic notions, co-starring Hugh Grant and Kate Winslet.
This Property Is Condemned - (Original Trailer) A small-town girl (Natalie Wood) fights her mother's opposition when she falls for a big-city businessman (Robert Redford) in This Property Is Condemned (1966).
Way We Were, The - (Original Trailer) Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford in one of the '70's greatest romances wrapped around the turbulent American politics of the 30's and 40's.
Jeremiah Johnson - (Original Trailer) Robert Redford escapes Western society as a mountain man in Sydney Pollack's Jeremiah Johnson (1972).
Swimmer, The - (Original Trailer) A tortured man reflects on past mistakes while "swimming" home through his neighbors' pools in The Swimmer (1968) starring Burt Lancaster.
Tootsie - (Original Trailer) Ten Academy Award nominations went to Tootsie (1982) in which an unemployed actor (Dustin Hoffman) masquerades as a woman to win a soap-opera role.
Scalphunters, The - (Original Trailer) A trapper (Burt Lancaster) and his educated slave (Ossie Davis) track an outlaw band in Sydney Pollack's The Scalphunters (1968).
Slender Thread, The - (Original Trailer) Sidney Poitier mans the suicide hotline in Sydney Pollack's first movie The Slender Thread (1965).
Out of Africa - (Original Trailer) Meryl Streep stars in Out of Africa (1985), winner of seven Academy Awards including Best Picture.
Three Days of the Condor - (Original Trailer) A CIA researcher uncovers top secret information and finds himself marked for death in Three Days of the Condor (1975).

Promo

Family

Rebecca Pollack
Mother
Divorced fom Pollack's father; developed emotional problems and became an alcoholic; died at age 37 when Pollack was 16.
David Pollack
Father
Pharmacist, professional boxer. Divorced from Pollack's mother.
Bernie Pollack
Brother
Costume designer, actor. Younger; designed costumes for seven of his brother's movies through "Sabrina"; played small roles in two of the films.
Sharon Pollack
Sister
Dance instructor. Younger.
Steven Pollack
Son
Born c. 1959; died on November 26, 1993 in a plane crash in Santa Monica.
Rebecca Pollack
Daughter
Executive. Born c. 1963; served as vice president of production at United Artists in the 1990s.
Rachel Pollack
Daughter
Born c. 1969.

Companions

Claire Griswold
Wife
Architect. Married in 1958; former student of her husband.

Bibliography

Notes

Pollack broke his hip in January 2000.

"If you get the recipe for Coca-Cola down, the rest of it is just marketing. They're now trying to do that with movies, and it's not going to work, because you re-invent the art form every time you make a movie. You can't sell them like other products. Marketing costs have skyrocketed... and this marketing thing will get a picture open, but it won't do anything beyond that."Look, I thought 'Havana' was a good movie. I didn't do anything different on 'Havana' than I did on 'Out of Africa'... But the people [moviegoers] didn't like it. If I could control that... I'd make nothing but hits, retire and sell the recipe... It doesn't work like that."---Sydney Pollack quoted in USA Today, June 30, 1993.

"I have two different careers here. I have a career as a director where I produce my own films and I also own and run Mirage, and that has a different life. I can make tiny films there. If we don't make a film a year, it doesn't matter. We've done 12 films in the 12 years I've had the company, which is a tidy number of films."I am looking for a small film to direct, but everyone thinks of me as being a major director who spends a lot of money making big movies with the Hollywood stars."---Pollack to Screen International, June 13-19, 1997.

"The truth is, I'm paid to be entertaining. I know that I'm just trying to squeeze the other stuff into the space I have to work with. There are some little holes I can fill for myself."---Pollack to "The Los Angeles Times, April 20, 2005.

Pollack on his occational acting: It's an excuse to spy on other directors," he said. "Directors are very territorial. They're like lions, urinating on every corner of the stage."---Pollack to CNN.com, April 26, 2005.