Hollywood script doctor favoured by Sydney Pollack
Like certain potentates who travel with a personal physician, the director Sydney Pollack
almost always had his own script doctor close at hand to revitalise a sick screenplay. David Rayfiel
, who has died of congestive heart failure aged 87, was called in on the majority of Pollack's features, usually for a few weeks, in order to fix specific problems, rewrite here and there, and add and subtract lines. Though well remunerated for his work, Rayfiel was usually given no screen credit.
However, the spotlight was sometimes turned on him, such as when Robert Redford
called Rayfiel "the unsung hero of almost every picture Sydney Pollack
and I have made together". When Out of Africa
(1985) won the Oscar for best picture, Pollack thanked Rayfiel for "keeping us honest" and Kurt Luedtke
, upon accepting the Academy award for his screenplay of the same film, also acknowledged Rayfiel.