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IHS Press

Sydney Pollack: A Subliminal Existentialist

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Film historian Wes D. Gehring’s Sydney Pollack: A Subliminal Existentialist captures the respected director’s career by examining ten of what Gehring considers Oscar-winner Pollack’s most telling pictures: They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969); Jeremiah Johnson (1972); The Way We Were (1973); Three Days of the Condor (1975); Bobby Deerfield (1977), The Electric Horseman (1979); Absence of Malice (1981); Tootsie (1982); Out of Africa (1985); and Havana (1990).

 From South Bend, Pollack found early success as an actor, an acting teacher, director, and later as a producer. In addition to creating classic films, he received praise as a fine character actor, including his roles as Dustin Hoffman’s scene-stealing agent in Pollack’s own Tootsie, a sympathetic cynic in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (1999), a spouse going through a midlife crisis in Woody Allen’s Husband and Wives (1992), and the head of a powerful law firm in Michael Clayton (2007).

 Trying to balance time for family and his many other soon-to-be-explored talents, Pollack’s ability to recognize quality material also made him a producer of such memorable works as The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989), Sense and Sensibility (1995), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), Iris (2001), and Michael Clayton. There was a wonderful consistency to his work, often as almost an existentialist in denial, regardless of the “hat” he wore.

Hardback, 255 pages.  2023 Indiana Historical Society Press.  By Wes Gehring.