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Sidney Lumet, 1924-2011

lumet, sidney.jpg

Sidney Lumet, the acclaimed director who brought us such gems as “Network,” “12 Angry Men,” “Serpico” and “Dog Day Afternoon,” has died at 86, the New York Times is reporting.

It’s fitting that Lumet lived long enough to witness the satirical world he wove in the 1976 best-picture-nominated film “Network” — which had well-meaning observers at the time chuckling at the absurdity of a respected TV broadcaster launching into on-the-air tirades — become more real than anyone thought possible. Witness the “reality shows” running rampant today and getting more crass by the season (did you read about Showtime’s new show “Gigolo,” where we follow men selling themselves for sex?) and a caustic political environment as today’s talking heads use their media influence as platforms for shrillness and demagoguery.

Besides “Network,” my favorite Lumet film has to be “Dog Day Afternoon,” among Al Pacino’s best performances. What’s yours?

More: My colleague James Ward at the Visalia Times-Delta has a nice Top 10 list of Lumet’s films here.

Responses to "Sidney Lumet, 1924-2011"

Stephen says:

He was so great, I just loved his work. He could do nuanced or over-the-top and make them both seem believable.

When bad actors do well, the director gets the credit. When great actors do poorly, the director takes the blame.

But I give credit to Lumet for his direction of Serpico and Pacino in a fantastic performance. The character would easily lend itself to some over-the-top histrionics, but Lumet worked so hard with his actors and cinematographer to make the inner emotion seem real and subtle, using a bland palatte and lots of quick dialogue and background noise to help tone down what could have erupted into horror at any moment.

He was amazing…RIP.

Jason says:

Network has to be #1 for me, although 12 Angry Men is probably 1a and Dog Day Afternoon 1b. Also, I do love train movies so Murder on the Orient Express is up there too. And I just got a copy of Prince of the City so I’m sure that’ll be right near the top as soon as I get around to watching it.

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I was just thinking the other day how Sidney Lumet is one of very few directors who, of all the things I’ve seen by them, none of them were even remotely bad. Rest in peace, bud.

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RIP to a great Director

Sad Day Afternoon says:

My favorite, by far: Fail Safe. Brilliant and utterly gripping, practically every scene is fraught with powerful intensity. It’s masterpiece.

I also like Deathtrap and Murder on the Orient Express, but they’re not even in the same ballpark as Fail Safe.

Heather says:

I’d heard of Sidney Lumet, but wasn’t aware of his directing credentials until I read this post.

Coincidentally, I started watching Dog Day Afternoon last week on Netflix, until my Internet connection failed.

It started off pretty great, though — I can’t wait to finish the film.

marcel says:

A giant film-maker in my book. I grew up watching his movies in the 70′s and they all had an impact on me… they still do. Most of them were not easy movies either but he kept you watching and taking it all in.

Michael Medrano says:

I showed Dog Day Afternoon to my English students to teach them about character development. Absolutely amazing to see Pacino’s transformation from bumbling bank robber to anti-hero. Sidney Lumet was a genius–when his box set comes out, I will buy it.