Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sydney Pollack, 1934-2008

Sydney Pollack, 1934-2008

Pollack directed a whole host of movies, from The Slender Thread, in which Sidney Poitier plays a volunteer for a suicide hotline who gets a call from Anne Bancroft, and has to keep her on the line; to
Out of Africa, the movie which won him his only Oscar for Best Director; and even the treacly
The Way We Were, in which Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford love each other from the 1930s to the 1950s.

The movie I'd like to mention, however, is Tootsie, since it has a connection to those of us here in the Catskills. You know the story of Dustin Hoffmann's character dressing up as a woman to get an acting job, but having to keep this from everybody, including the fellow actress (played by Jessica Lange). with whom he (while acting as a woman) develops a friendship. Lange takes Hoffmann upstate to see her father (Charles Durning), who's fallen for the actress. Many of the upstate scenes were filmed at the Hurley Mountain Inn, a downscale restaurant that well captures the blue-collar nature of Durning, who would be horrified to find out that the woman he's fallen in love with is, in fact, a man. Other than the curiosity factor of seeing the location where the Tootsie scenes were filmed, however, I don't know that the Hurley Mountain Inn would have that much interest to movie buffs; the patrons are more likely to be down-to-earth types like the Thelma Ritter character in The Mating Season than they are to discuss which of Sydney Pollack's films is their favorite.

There's also a secondhand personal note for me on Tootsie; my uncle (since deceased) managed a theater and got to spend some time on the set when it came to the Catskills, even getting to meet Jessica Lange. My grandmother probably had the most interesting reaction, asking, "Who's Jessica Lange?"

As of this writing, I haven't seen any announcement from TCM of a tribute to Pollack.

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