Pollack, Sydney

Pollack, Sydney
(1934– )
   Sydney Pollack was born on July 1, 1934, in Lafayette, Indiana, near South Bend, where he was educated. He graduated from high school in 1952 and moved to New York, where he studied acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater. Later, he became an acting instructor there. Pollack began acting in television dramas in New York, but soon moved to Los Angeles to direct episodes of TV series. His first feature film as a director was The Slender Thread (1965), with Sidney Poitier. Other notable films Pollack directed include They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969), a tragic drama about a dance marathon, and a comedy, Tootsie (1982), with Dustin Hoffman. (In it Pollack also played a skeptical actor’s agent. ) Out of Africa (1985), starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, won Academy Awards for best director and best picture. Pollack continued to act occasionally, playing a harried husband in Woody Allen’s Husband and Wives (1993). That same year, he directed TOM CRUISE in The Firm, from John Grisham’s thriller. It was Pollack who put STANLEY KUBRICK in touch with Cruise, when Kubrick wanted to cast Cruise in EYES WIDE SHUT (1999), in which Pollack also played a role. After Eyes Wide Shut, Pollack returned to directing with Random Hearts (1999), starring Harrison Ford.
   As it happened, Pollack replaced Harvey Keitel, who had a conflicting commitment that prohibited him from participating in Kubrick’s customarily long shoot for Eyes Wide Shut, which lasted 15 months. Pollack took over the role of Victor Ziegler, a decadent millionaire and a patient of Dr. William Harford (Tom Cruise). Bill and his wife, Alice (NICOLE KIDMAN), attend a fancy Christmas party at Ziegler’s sumptuous Manhattan town house. In the course of the evening, Ziegler calls Bill to an upstairs bathroom and asks him to revive Mandy, a prostitute he had just had sex with, who has passed out from a drug overdose. Typically, Ziegler is more concerned about keeping the whole episode quiet than he is about the girl’s health. The following night Bill attends a costumed orgy in a country house on Long Island as an uninvited guest. He is inevitably unmasked as a gate-crasher, and he fears for his life—until a masked harlot offers to sacrifice herself for him. Soon after, she turns up dead, ostensibly from a drug overdose; but Bill suspects that he has been indirectly responsible for her death. Ziegler brings Bill to his home once more, this time to assure Bill that the prostitute did in fact die of an overdose after the orgy at which he too was present. He maintains that her demise had nothing to do with the sponsors of the orgy, who included himself. Yet the devious Ziegler is wholly unreliable in what he says. Ziegler contends that the prostitute’s pretending to sacrifice herself for Bill at the costume party was merely a charade designed to discourage him from invading Ziegler and his rich cohorts’ future clandestine revelries. This scene, writes Richard Jameson, is essential for “enlarging Ziegler’s corruptness,” though his explanation “leaves us profoundly unsatisfied. ” The marvel of the scene, comments Larry Gross, “is the subtle variations in Pollack’s tone,” from benign to sinister. The only benediction that Ziegler can offer Bill is hardly consoling: “Someone died—it happens all the time. Life goes on, until it doesn’t. ” Pollack told Peter Bogdanovich that his initial take on this extended scene (13 minutes) was different from Kubrick’s. “I came in with the idea of being tougher with the character of Tom Cruise. And Stanley had this idea of my wanting to manipulate him more and therefore be kinder”; and that is the way Pollack played it. Pollack’s performance was applauded by critics, as when Roger Ebert wrote,“Sydney Pollack is the key supporting player, as a confident, sinister man of the world, living in old-style luxury, deep-voiced, experienced, decadent. ” Jonathan Rosenbaum compares Pollack’s performance to that of ADOLPHE MENJOU as the highly cultivated General Broulard in Kubrick’s PATHS OF GLORY—the true villain of that film. Like Broulard, Ziegler is polished and urbane on the surface, but all evil underneath.
   Asked for his interpretation of Eyes Wide Shut, Pollack replied to Richard Schickel, “This is the story of a man who journeys off the path” of moral rectitude “and then finds his way back onto it. ”When “he realizes that what he’s lived through was about values so far below what he’s lived his life for, he’s devastated. ” As a fellow director, Pollack envied Kubrick’s long shooting schedule. He told Schickel,“Stanley had figured out a way to work in England for a fraction of what we pay” in Hollywood. Kubrick cut costs by working with a small technical crew. “While the rest of us poor bastards are able to get sixteen weeks of filming for $70 million with a $20 million star, Stanley could get forty-five weeks of shooting for $65 million. ” Looking back on working with Kubrick,Pollack reflected,“I found him to be the warmest, nicest, most interesting person I’d met in a long, long time. ”
   ■ Bogdanovich, Peter, “What They Say about Stanley Kubrick,” New York Times Magazine, July 4, 1999, pp. 18–25, 40, 47–48;
   ■ Ebert,Roger,“Doctor’s Strange Love,” Chicago Sun-Times, July 16, 1999, sec. NC, pp. 29, 33;
   ■ Gross, Larry,“Too Late the Hero: Eyes Wide Shut,” Sight and Sound, special Kubrick issue, 9 (n. s. ), no. 9 (September 1999): 20–23;
   ■ Jameson, Richard,“Ghost Sonata: Eyes Wide Shut,” Film Comment 35, no. 5 (September–October, 1999): 27–28;
   ■ Rosenbaum, Jonathan,“In Dreams Begin Responsibilities: Eyes Wide Shut,Chicago Reader, July 23, 1999, sec. 1, pp. 46–49;
   ■ Schickel, Richard, “All Eyes on Them: Eyes Wide Shut,Time, July 5, 1999, pp. 65–70;
   ■ Seiler, Andy, “Disputing Kubrick’s Eccentric Reputation, USA Today, July 16, 1999, sec. E, p. 2;
   ■ Stone, Judy,“Sydney Pollack,” in Eye on the World: Conversations with Filmmakers (Los Angeles: Silman-James, 1997), pp. 753–756.

The Encyclopedia of Stanley Kubrick. . 2002.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • 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… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Pollack, Sydney Irwin — ▪ 2009       American director, producer, and actor born July 1, 1934, Lafayette, Ind. died May 26, 2008, Pacific Palisades, Calif. directed numerous television shows and more than a score of movies, including the epic romance Out of Africa… …   Universalium

  • Sydney Pollack — en 2006 Nacimiento 1 de julio de 1934 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Pollack — (Sydney) (né en 1934) cinéaste américain: On achève bien les chevaux (1969), Jeremiah Johnson (1972), Tootsie (1983), Out of Africa (1985), Sabrina (1996) …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Sydney Pollack — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Pollack. Sydney Pollack …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Sydney Pollack — Sydney Pollack, 2006 Sydney Irwin Pollack (* 1. Juli 1934 in Lafayette, Indiana; † 26. Mai 2008 in Los Angeles) war ein US amerikanischer Filmregisseur, produzent und Schauspieler …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Sydney Pollack — (South Bend, 1934) actor, director de cine estadounidense. Tras dirigir programas dramáticos para la televisión, inició su carrera cinematográfica en 1966 (La vida vale más). La película que lo lanzó a la fama fue Danzad, danzad, malditos (1969) …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Sydney Pollack — Сидни Поллак Sydney Pollack Дата рождения: 1 июля 1934 Место рождения: Лафайет, Индиана …   Википедия

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