A couple of years ago Sydney Pollack became my hero.
He was the first of Hollywood's creative talent to shoot those bits that run before a movie asking you — via a comic skit — to please not use your cell phone while watching the movie. Don't talk and don't text.
Pollack's line was classic. He interrupted a guy on his cell in an intimate discussion with his girlfriend. As he starts to unload, you hear Pollack shouting about the lighting and the guy's mood not being quite right.
When he tells the girlfriend that he'll call her back, Pollack says, "Oh, I'm sorry. Is my directing interfering with your phone call? How rude of me."
Now Sydney Pollack is dead. Cancer killed him at 73.
What a loss. Pollack is one of America's great directors. He won two Oscars for Out of Africa, a film many consider his greatest accomplishment. That's quite a compliment in a career that includes directing Tootsie, The Way We Were, Bobby Deerfield, The Electric Horseman and a bunch of others.
Though I loved Pollack's straight-ahead storytelling as a director, I think I loved him more as an actor.
Most of his roles were supporting, and he did characters ranging from shifty to smarmy, and did them brilliantly. Pollack had a small but significant role in last year's Michael Clayton.
Ironically, the last we saw of this American movie icon is as an actor in what may be this year's worst movie, Made of Honor. Pollack was the only thing good about the picture.
What's your favorite Sydney Pollack movie and why?