"...the reason to give thought to these creatively orchestrated murders in The Pelican Brief is that they constitute notable examples of where the stylisation on show doesn't render murder, death and the victim's lives an abstraction. Instead, Pakula’s style actually supports an insight into the horrors of life snuffed out. The smooth commercial moves are delivered, but the gloss on show is not shallow."
"...while KLUTE may make overtures at being a contemporary thriller, its complete indifference towards its own murder investigation underscores its place as an issue film first and foremost."
"Pakula appeared intrigued that Consenting Adults, in its first passages, would possess themes very similar to those of Presumed Innocent. By its midpoint, though, the audience would find themselves in a Nineties updating of Hitchcock's 1951 classic, Strangers on a Train. It was a good opportunity to shake up expectations."
“In Klute, Bree guides Klute through a subterranean city defined by the sex trade. This world updates images of various film noirs from the late 1940s and 1950s, as this enterprise largely defines the city, much as corruption in politics and business defined the city in Robert Rossen’s Body and Soul (1947), Abraham Polonsky’s Force of Evil (1948), and Jules Dassin’s Naked City (1948). These noir conventions include a voice-over narrator, severe high- and low-angle shots, and high-key lighting…Klute’s vision of New York’s interiors reveals an afflicted city...a city where vice has moved indoors because the life that exists on the street is too squalid and violent.”
“All the President’s Men shows one of the most optimistic portrayals that the genre has to offer… Both reporters lead ethically correct investigations; questionable methods in their research hardly occur. Here there are already signs of the eminent and much discussed dilemma of investigative journalism: Is a journalist allowed to use illegal research methods in order to expose illegal deals? Does the aim justify the method? And where does one draw the line?”
“The industrial standing and cultural presence of Fonda and Pakula during this period of Hollywood history suggests that ‘neglected’ films such as Comes a Horseman and Rollover can, and indeed should, be discussed in greater detail despite being overshadowed by the various interests Klute has attracted. Peter Krämer’s article on this phase of Fonda’s career discounts these two films as anomalous due to their commercial shortcomings, two ‘blips’ in an otherwise extraordinary run of hits between 1977 and 1981. He does, however, nominally link Comes a Horseman and Rollover together thematically, along with The China Syndrome, Nine to Five, Fun with Dick and Jane and The Electric Horseman (1979), as critical portraits of corporate power. Locating these two films in Pakula’s career has proven even more of an enigma for film historians…”
"Pakula told his editor to play the uncertainty. [Editor Bob] Wolfe went through and added frames back at the head and tail of shots, restored the pauses that Pakula had witnessed on set, and the scenes came alive. Tension pulled you through the story. It was longer, but it felt shorter. Gordon Willis was responsible for the look of the picture and its visual architecture, but Pakula shaped your feelings in the editing room."
Source: A Walk with Good and Evil [Alan J. Pakula interviewed by Ana Maria Bahiana],
Cinema Papers: 38-42.
"You know what they called Pakula and his films? “Watchful.” Both were Yale-smart and, while not revolutionary in any meaningful sense, like few others, partly because the man himself was possessed of no special madness, no sizable ego (honestly, has anyone ever said anything bad about him? in Hollywood?), no overt will to manipulate. Only the desire to connect, to understand why people behave as they do. To the extent that he makes you want to do it, too. And because you can’t really understand a made thing without knowing why it was made (and because we are that thing), I have to ponder at the man’s motives."
"...I could write and talk about ROLLOVER almost indefinitely ... [p]art of this is the joy of any film that's so in tune with contemporary concerns. I don't want to go overboard on making an argument for the film based on prescience. A crystal ball may be a wonderment of its own sort, but it's not a touchstone for aesthetic achievement. Still, there are a few respects in which the film's continuing relevance is remarkable."
“Not surprisingly, it is to those masters of the haunted screen, Lang and Murnau, that Pakula’s work suggests the greatest affinity of all: Lang with his blacks and whites that change places or cohabit side by side without ever merging into shades of gray, and his rigid lines and ferociously architectonic intuitions of a mazelike moral universe full of Doppelgängers and supernatural masterminds; Murnau with his cosmic apprehension of a fatal continuum, an apprehension so strong and so stylistically integral that the mere enclosure of an event, a person, a place within the motion picture frame becomes a stage in a mystical rite.”