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Fox Lorber presents
The Directors: Sydney Pollack (1997)

: "I've never been completely content with what I'm doing or where I am or my career....If you ask me, would I do something different, or change something, I could look at any—every one—of my films, and, yeah, now that I've seen it all together, I know now what to do."
- Sydney Pollack

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: May 04, 2000

Stars: Sydney Pollack
Other Stars: Meryl Streep, Charles Durning, Sally Field, Harrison Ford, Cliff Robertson, Julia Ormond, Paul Newman and Jerry Weintraub
Director: Robert J. Emery

Manufacturer: DVSS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language)
Run Time: 00h:54m:30s
Release Date: February 22, 2000
UPC: 720917307121
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

This volume of the AFI series The Directors focuses on Hollywood legend Sydney Pollack. Through interviews with Pollack himself as well as many of his stars, we get a solid picture of his career over about thirty years of filmmaking. A generous sampling of film clips helps put these interviews in perspective. The films shown include The Slender Thread, This Property is Condemned, The Scalphunters, They Shoot Horses Don't They?, Jeremiah Johnson, The Way We Were, The Yakuza, Three Days of the Condor, Bobby Deerfield, The Electric Horseman, Absence of Malice, Tootsie, Out of Africa, Havana, The Firm and the 1995 remake of Sabrina.

The most interesting portions are those relating to They Shoot Horses, where Pollack reveals that the film was shot in strict continuity, and as they went along the actors' makeup was removed to give the impression of being worn out by the dance marathon, and Meryl Streep's reminiscences of the making of Out of Africa. Cliff Robertson's recollections of a C.I.A. representative on the set of Three Days of the Condor are also quite amusing.

The two significant negatives relating to content are that the narrator tends to state one of Pollack's opinions, just before Pollack states that opinion. This feels like padding which shouldn't have been necessary with a director of Pollack's standing. The other point is that the omission of any interview with Robert Redford sticks out like a sore thumb. He appears in clip after clip after clip, having worked with Pollack many times, but we never actually hear from him. This omission is a serious shortfall in getting a proper perspective on Pollack's career.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The interview segments are certainly adequate, with decent coloration and clear picture. The film clips vary widely in quality, with the worst being the blurry, VHS-quality clips from The Scalphunters, They Shoot Horses and Three Days of the Condor. The clip from Bobby Deerfield is extremely faded and looks dated, and has some visible frame damage. Condor suffers from the same problems, though to a lesser extent. The other clips all are at minimum adequate for the purposes of a television documentary.

My primary problem with these clips is that they are ALL presented in full frame, pan & scan versions. I don't understand why the AFI, in a series on directors, would so violate the director's intent and composition within the frame in this manner.

Image Transfer Grade: D


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English monoyes

Audio Transfer Review: The sound is an undistinguished 2-channel DD mono. There is no audible noise or distortion, and the audio quality is by and large sufficient but certainly nothing flashy. Again, since this was intended for television distribution, the reason for the limited audio is obvious.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 6 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Packaging: Alpha
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single
Layers Switch: na

Extra Extras:
  1. weblink
Extras Review: Extras are extremely limited. There is a 2-screen filmography of films directed by Pollack (though there is no filmography for Pollack as an actor, which is referenced throughout the program). There is a weblink for DVD-ROM use.

The chaptering could be more generous; six chapters seems insufficient. No subtitles are provided, nor are any other language options.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

Another solid and interesting entry in The Directors series. The main faults are the omission of a Redford interview and use of pan & scan film clips. If you can get beyond these objections, the disc is quite worthwhile.


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