The Way Films Were

Robert Redford Sydney Pollack on set 
The other night my husband and I were watching this special feature on the Three Days of the Condor – a proper movie night, without me usually falling asleep after less than half an hour, is still pretty much out of the question in our life with a six (six?!!) months old baby, so documentaries (which I have no problem with watching in more parts if necessary) of any kind are our new thing at the moment – about Sydney Pollack’s filmography, with both Pollack and Redford talking about their seven movies they made together. And right at the end Sydney says something about their working relationship and friendship (I am a sucker for this kind of lifetime friendships’ insights) that I liked very much: “When we shot a film together we practically lived together. I cook a lot. And he can’t even make a cup of coffee. So he would always come over to my condo or apartment or room or whatever it was and we’d sit and have a bottle of wine and cook and talk about tomorrow’s work or whatever. But we would laugh and make each other laugh and always talk about the fact that we ought to make a comedy and I am really sorry we haven’t.”

They were “kindred spirits”, in Robert Redford’s own words. They met on a low-budget independent film in 1960, War Hunt, and immediately bonded and became close friends. I have always admired Redford’s strong voice and uncompromising work in the industry, and the direction towards more independent films he took, and now, on the brink of a new awards season (not that I put too much price on these awards – I view them rather as an excuse to watch even more movies and I like the attention the worthwhile ones get), these words of him from an interview in Time magazine, from May 27, 2008, resonate with me more than ever: “I think that the best times that he and I had were when the film industry was a different business. It was mainly because, in more of the films he and I did during the time we worked together, we were going against the grain. The business has so drastically changed now, it’s just a completely different business than it was. And I don’t know that we could ever produce the fun he and I had during the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, when we were constantly trying to forge projects that were going to be hard to get the studios to go with and working against those odds. A lot of the appeal was it was great fun.”

“You know, Sydney, the most fun I had was in those years, when we were doing original pieces and not adaptations and not remakes or anything like that.”

photo: Anwar Hussein, 1979, Robert Redford and Sydney Pollack on the set of The Electric Horseman, via

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