[Originally published in Movietone News 58-59, August 1978]
Sydney Pollack has carted the same thematic luggage down the road so consistently that running a standard, connect-the-dots literary tracer through his feature works is relatively easy. Pollack has concerned himself not so much with issues of death as with things that are dead, or so close to death that there is no appreciable difference. His films imply that rigor mortis set in long before the scenario began, and will spread after the last reel. To his credit, the repackaging of the principal components of this tragic vision has always been fresh. We’ve had the opportunity to see Pollack’s marked men and women slowly die while slavishly and knowingly dressing up the cancer of a metaphorical promise (They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?), through the ultimate victimization of human relationships by virtue of living in vulgar, extremist times (The Way We Were) or by a contagion of paranoiac losses (Three Days of the Condor).
Pollack’s thematic constancy has not been matched by aesthetic constancy, however. They Shoot Horses is marred by an imbalance of subjective shots and the infamous cuts to Michael Sarrazin under arrest and on trial; but the film’s imagistic cohesion and integration are highly personal and architecturally sound. And Pollack’s exquisite montage of Sarrazin straining to catch a fleeting leak of sunlight while dancing in the sealed ballroom suggested a primitive urgency on the new feature director’s part straining against the classical/polemical loftiness of the project.Read More “Review: Bobby Deerfield”