Alan Dale opens his profile of Dustin Hoffman, who turns 75 today, with, naturally, a few words on The Graduate (1967), “the movie that catapulted this diminutive, unglamorous actor to unlikely and major stardom,” and Midnight Cowboy (1969): “Usually, catching the actor acting lessens the viewer’s enjoyment; Hoffman makes it work.” The piece appears at Film Reference, where you’ll find a filmography up to 1999, a list of awards (Oscars for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and Rain Man (1988); nominations for The Graduate, Midnight Cowboy, Lenny (1974), Tootsie (1982), and Wag the Dog (1997), plus a slew of BAFTAs and critics’ awards), and a select bibliography.
Dale: “One of his finest performances is as Max Dembo in Ulu Grosbard’s too little seen Straight Time , a study of criminal psychology which eschews a co-star, instead displaying Hoffman in relation to a whole slate of superb supporting players, with every interaction revealing another layer of Dembo’s locked-in mentality. Here Hoffman merges his focus as an actor with Dembo’s bone-dry focus on burglary. The scene in which Dembo stays too long while robbing a jewelry store, and a consequent one in which he punishes the junkie getaway driver who panicked, are awesome in their daring.”
Though I’m tempted to post a string a clips, I’ll keep it down to just one, the scene in Sydney Pollack’s Tootsie in which Hoffman comes closest to playing himself and addressing, as Dale puts it, “his own reputation as a ‘difficult’ actor.” It’s notable, too, for reminding us what a fine actor Pollack was, and if you’re appetite’s whetted, you can follow this one up with the Russian Tea Room scene. The quality of both clips is hardly top-notch, but what the hell:
For more Hoffmania (video, interviews, links), see the fan site, Simply Dustin Hoffman.
Hoffman’s directorial debut, Quartet, with Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Michael Gambon, Pauline Collins, Tom Courtenay, and Sheridan Smith, will see its world premiere in Toronto. And recently, for Audible, Hoffman’s read Jerzy Kosinski’s Being There.
The photo at the top is by Bryan Adams from a collection shot in 2006.
Update, 8/9: From LIFE, “Early Photos of an Actor on the Rise.”