Image via Wikipedia
In honor of the passing of Sydney Pollack on May 26, 2008 at 73, I thought I'd write about the first movie I ever saw him in: Tootsie.
Why am I including a comedy in a blog about romantic movies? Because the twisted love story between Dustin Hoffman's character Michael Dorsey and Jessica Lange's character Julie Nichols was one of the better-crafted romantic plots ever put on film. It takes a lot of skill to put a man in a dress, have a woman fall in love with him in spite of his cross-dressing and then have her forgive him when she finds out that the woman who made her worry she was a lesbian was a man after all.
One of my favorite scenes from the movie deals with this ambiguity and features Sydney Pollack as Michael Dorsey's agent, George Fields. In trying to understand why Michael was on the brink of desperation, he ran through a variety of questions about his and other people's genders that you have to see to really appreciate. His comedic timing was impeccable -- especially since he didn't even want to play the role. Hoffman begged him repeatedly to play his agent before production began, but Pollack still refused. So Dustin took to sending him flowers every day with a note that read, "Please be my agent. Love, Dorothy." Eventually Pollack caved in and he agreed to take the role.
A clever and well-written script, plus stellar performances by Sydney Pollack, Dustin Hoffman and Jessica Lange are just some of many reasons to see this movie if you never have or to take another look if you've seen it before. Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman and Charles Durning also were great, and Bill Murray's performance is not to be missed. (He ad-libbed most of his lines.) This reliable comedy is great to have on the shelf, because you know if you need a laugh, it won't disappoint.
Here's Sydney Pollack being brilliant as the agent in Tootsie: