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Alan J. Pakula

Alan J. Pakula American film director, writer and producer

American film director, writer and producer
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro American film director, writer and producer
A.K.A. Alan Jay Pakula, Alan Pakula
Countries United States of America
Occupations Screenwriter Film producer Film director Writer
Type Film, Television, Stage and Radio Literature
Gender male
Birth 7 April 1928 (The Bronx)
Death 19 November 1998 (Melville)
Star sign AriesAries
Spouse: Hope Lange
Education Yale University
The details

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 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 Academy Award. 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". 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, albeit non-ostensible, enterprise is domestic terrorism.

Finally, 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.

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.

Personal life

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. 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 has 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 very 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.


Year Title Role
1957 Fear Strikes Out Producer
1962 To Kill a Mockingbird Producer
1963 Love with the Proper Stranger Producer
1965 Baby the Rain Must Fall Producer
Inside Daisy Clover Producer
1967 Up the Down Staircase Producer
1968 The Stalking Moon Producer
1969 The Sterile Cuckoo Director, producer
1971 Klute Director, producer
1973 Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing Director, producer
1974 The Parallax View Director, producer
1976 All the President's Men Director
1978 Comes a Horseman Director
1979 Starting Over Director, producer
1981 Rollover Director
1982 Sophie's Choice Director, producer, writer
1986 Dream Lover Director, producer
1987 Orphans Director, producer
1989 See You in the Morning Director, producer, writer
1990 Presumed Innocent Director, writer
1992 Consenting Adults Director, producer
1993 The Pelican Brief Director, producer, writer
1997 The Devil's Own Director
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