Oscar Directors: Pakula, Alan–Background, Career, Awards, Filmography

September 23, 2020

Alan Pakula Career Summation

Occupational Inheritance: No


Social Class:

Race/Ethnicity/Religion: Polish-Jewish


Formal Education: Yale School, drama

Training: assistant, then producer to Mulligan

First Film: Sterile Cuckoo, 1969; 51

Breakthrough: first producer

First Oscar Nomination:

Gap between First Film and First Nom:

Other Oscars:

Other Oscar Nominations: Best Pic, Kill Mockingbird; Best Adapted Screenplay, Sophie’s Choice

Oscar Awards: No

Nominations Span:

Genre (specialties): Paranoia (Conspiracy) trilogy

Collaborators: producer of movies by Robert Mulligan, 1957 to 1968.

Last Film: The Devil’s Own, 1997; age 69; died a year later


Career Length:

Career Output:

Marriage: 2 wives; Hope Lange, actress


Death: 70 (car accident)

Alan Jay Pakula (April 7, 1928 – November 19, 1998) was an American film director, writer and producer.

He was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Picture for To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), Best Director for All the President’s Men (1976) and Best Adapted Screenplay for Sophie’s Choice (1982).

Pakula was also notable for directing his “paranoia trilogy”: Klute (1971), The Parallax View (1974) and All the President’s Men (1976).

Pakula was born in The Bronx, New York, to parents of Polish Jewish descent, Jeanette (née Goldstein) and Paul Pakula. He was educated at The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and Yale University, where he majored in drama.

Pakula started his Hollywood career as an assistant in the cartoon department at Warner Brothers. In 1957, he undertook his first production role for Paramount Pictures. In 1962, he produced To Kill a Mockingbird, for which he was nominated for a Best Picture.

Pakula had a successful professional relationship as the producer of movies directed by Robert Mulligan from 1957 to 1968.

In 1969, he directed his first feature, The Sterile Cuckoo, starring Liza Minnelli.

In 1971, Pakula released the first installment of what would informally come to be known as his “paranoia trilogy”.[citation needed] Klute, the story of a relationship between a private eye (played by Donald Sutherland) and a call girl (played by Jane Fonda, who won an Oscar for her performance), was a commercial and critical success. This was followed in 1974 by The Parallax View starring Warren Beatty, a labyrinthine post-Watergate thriller involving political assassinations. The film has been noted for its experimental use of hypnotic imagery in a celebrated film-within-a-film sequence in which the protagonist is inducted into the Parallax Corporation, whose main, although secret, enterprise is domestic terrorism.

In 1976, Pakula rounded out the “trilogy” with All the President’s Men, based on the bestselling account of the Watergate scandal written by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who were played in the movie by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, respectively. It was another commercial hit, considered by many critics and fans to be one of the best thrillers of the 1970s.[2]

Pakula scored another hit in 1982 with Sophie’s Choice, starring Meryl Streep. His screenplay, based on the novel by William Styron, was nominated for an Academy Award. Later commercial successes included Presumed Innocent, based on the bestselling novel by Scott Turow, and another political thriller, The Pelican Brief, an adaptation of John Grisham’s bestseller. His final film was the crime drama thriller film The Devil’s Own, where he reunited with Harrison Ford.

From October 19, 1963, until 1971, Pakula was married to actress Hope Lange. He was married to his second wife, Hannah Pakula (formerly Hannah Cohn Boorstin) from 1973 until his death in 1998.

He had two stepchildren from his marriage with Hope Lange, Christopher and Patricia Murray and three stepchildren from his second marriage. They are Louis, Robert and Anna Boorstin. He also spoke openly about his stepson’s battle with depression before his death.

Pakula died on November 19, 1998, in a car accident on the Long Island Expressway in Melville, New York. He was 70 years old. A driver in front of him struck a metal pipe, which went through Pakula’s windshield, struck him in the head, and caused him to swerve off the road and into a fence. He was killed instantly.


1969 The Sterile Cuckoo Yes Yes No
1971 Klute Yes Yes No
1973 Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing Yes Yes No
1974 The Parallax View Yes Yes No
1976 All the President’s Men Yes No No
1978 Comes a Horseman Yes No No
1979 Starting Over Yes Yes No
1981 Rollover Yes No No
1982 Sophie’s Choice Yes Yes Yes
1986 Dream Lover Yes Yes No
1987 Orphans Yes Yes No
1989 See You in the Morning Yes Yes Yes
1990 Presumed Innocent Yes No Yes
1992 Consenting Adults Yes Yes No
1993 The Pelican Brief Yes Yes Yes
1997 The Devil’s Own Yes No No

Producer only
Year Title Director
1957 Fear Strikes Out Robert Mulligan
1962 To Kill a Mockingbird
1963 Love with the Proper Stranger
1965 Baby the Rain Must Fall
Inside Daisy Clover
1967 Up the Down Staircase
1968 The Stalking Moon