In movies, there is always an actor or director that we have a love/hate relationship with. You know the type: they make a movie you love, then they take a subject you love and destroy it in the movie.
Such has been my experience with Sydney Pollack.
My first memory of seeing one of his movies was Absence of Malice (Paul Newman, Sally Field) during Christmas of 1981. I was 11 and bored with the movie — the adults were so-so about it. The following year gave us Tootsie, which was very enjoyable. It was the first time that I noticed a director in front of the camera, something he would do off and on in movies.
For someone reviewing movies, it is sad to say that I have not seen the following films:
- Out of Africa
- The Electric Horseman
- Three Days of the Condor
- The Way We Were
One movie I wish I could add to that list, but instead use it to symbolize why I disliked Pollack as a director and producer is The Firm. I had read the book and looked forward to the movie for 6 months. Due to location issues, Pollack rewrote the second half of the book, creating a story I never knew. It ruined my birthday movie that year, and I was gunshy about his movies after that.
Thankfully the last movie I saw that he directed was Sabrina in 1995. A light movie remake featuring Harrison Ford and Greg Kinnear, it restored my enjoyment of his movies.
Interestingly enough, the last two things I saw involving Sydney Pollack were onscreen: an ATT ad asking us to silence our phones and a rich father on Made of Honor.
Love him or hate him, we will all miss his work in film, on and off the screen…