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Kempt bids a fond farewell to Sydney Pollack today, a filmmaker who made his name on restraint, subtle humanism and consummate professionalism. In short, a man in full. As his recent co-star George Clooney put it, “Sydney made the world a little better, movies a little better and even dinner a little better. A tip of the hat to a class act. He will be missed.”

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Often pegged as middlebrow, Pollack never quite fit in with his contemporaries, whether in his dedication to Old Hollywood style or his preference for acting and character-based storytelling over formal innovation. As an actor, he stuck to a specific type: a calm, occasionally venal anchor to the chaos around him. It’s only natural that he would be an appealing figure to 1970s America.

Although he’s best known for *Tootsie*, the perennial candidate for the funniest movie of its era, Pollack was at his best with more suspenseful fare, like the classic spy film *Three Days of the Condor*—featuring a fugitive Robert Redford making the most of a peacoat, oxford shirt, jeans and a blazer—as well as the lesser-seen *The Yakuza*, a Paul Schraeder gem featuring the unlikely confluence of Robert Mitchum, katana fighting, and clothing that could only have been worn in 1974.

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—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom