Sydney Pollack (1934-2008)

The director of such films as They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, Three Days of the Condor, Tootsie and Out of Africa, winner of Best Picture in 1985, has passed away from cancer at 73. The Indiana native was a force in Hollywood as a director, actor and ambassador, as well as an elder statesman whose support as a producer allowed films like Michael Clayton and several works by Anthony Minghella (who also passed away this year) to reach audiences.

Read Pollack’s obituary at the NY Times and LA Times. (The Guardian has compiled an interesting cross-section of his work via YouTube.) Salon‘s 1999 profile, prompted by Pollack’s performance as an unsavory accomplice in Stanley Kubrick‘s Eyes Wide Shut, celebrated his merits as an actor. “Like all great character actors,” writes Michael Sragow, “he challenges and magnetizes top-billed performers without overpowering them.” Around the release of The Interpreter, his final feature film (which was followed by his documentary Sketches of Frank Gehry), Slate published this critical evaluation. More information on Pollack’s life is available via the Associated Press.