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IHS Press Publishes Review of Oscar-Winner Sydney Pollack’s Most Telling Pictures

March 27, 2023

In the latest book from the Indiana Historical Society (IHS) Press, “Sydney Pollack: A Subliminal Existentialist,” film historian Wes D. Gehring captures the respected director’s career by examining 10 of what Gehring considers Oscar-winner Pollack’s most telling pictures.

This work weaves the story of Pollack’s life and career through 10 of his films: They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969); Jeremiah Johnson (1972); The Way We Were (1973); Three Days of the Condor (1975); Bobby Deerfield (1977); The Electric Horseman (1979); Absence of Malice (1981); Tootsie (1982); Out of Africa (1985); and Havana (1990). It also covers his relationship with two actors; teacher and mentor, Burt Lancaster, and Robert Redford, with whom he frequently collaborated.

From South Bend, Pollack found early success as an actor, an acting teacher and director and later as a producer. In addition to creating classic films, he received praise as a fine character actor, including his roles as Dustin Hoffman’s scene-stealing agent in Pollack’s own Tootsie, a sympathetic cynic in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (1999), a spouse going through a midlife crisis in Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives (1992), and the head of a powerful law firm in Michael Clayton (2007).

Trying to balance time for family and his many other soon-to-be-explored talents, Pollack’s ability to recognize quality material also made him a producer of such memorable works as The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989), Sense and Sensibility (1995), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), Iris (2001) and Michael Clayton. There was a wonderful consistency to his work, often as almost an existentialist in denial, regardless of the “hat” he wore.

“Sydney Pollack: A Subliminal Existentialist” is available through IHS’s Basile History Market and other places books are sold. For more information about the book or the IHS Press, call (317) 232-1882 or visit

About the Author

Wes D. Gehring is Ball State University’s Distinguished Professor of Film and Media Editor for USA Today Magazine, for which he also writes the column “Reel World.” Gehring is the author of more than 40 books. CNN and Forbes’s “Book Authority” recently ranked his Genre-Busting Dark Comedies of the 1970s at number 39 on their list of the “100 Best Comedy Books of All Time.” In 2017 and 2018, he was one of Turner Classic Movies’ on-screen scholars for its summer online classes. His writing has resulted in speaking engagements from the Paris-Sorbonne University to New York’s Museum of Modern Art.


Title:                            Sydney Pollack: A Subliminal Existentialist

Publisher:                    Indiana Historical Society Press

Pages:                         273

Size:                            6 x 9

Cover:                         Hardcover

Publication Date:        March 2023

Cost:                            $29.95

Print ISBN:                  9780-87195-471-8

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