Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Ryan Gosling To Star In 'Blade Runner 2' Ryan Gosling To Star In 'Blade Runner 2' Watch: New Trailer For 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Flies Into The Galaxy Watch: New Trailer For 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Flies Into The Galaxy Watch: First Teaser Trailer For Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight' Watch: First Teaser Trailer For Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight' 'Macbeth,' Todd Haynes' 'Carol,' Pixar's 'Inside Out' Lead 2015 Cannes Film Festival Line-Up 'Macbeth,' Todd Haynes' 'Carol,' Pixar's 'Inside Out' Lead 2015 Cannes Film Festival Line-Up Watch: Zack Snyder Teases The Full Trailer For ‘Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice' & Upcoming IMAX Event Watch: Zack Snyder Teases The Full Trailer For ‘Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice' & Upcoming IMAX Event Ryan Gosling & Edgar Wright Talk 'Lost River,' Shooting In Detroit, And Advice For First Time Filmmakers Ryan Gosling & Edgar Wright Talk 'Lost River,' Shooting In Detroit, And Advice For First Time Filmmakers Netflix & Marvel's 'Daredevil': The Pros, The Cons, The Verdict Netflix & Marvel's 'Daredevil': The Pros, The Cons, The Verdict Netflix's 'Daredevil' Is An Awesome Achievement And Marvel's Most Graphic & Grounded Effort To Date Netflix's 'Daredevil' Is An Awesome Achievement And Marvel's Most Graphic & Grounded Effort To Date Watch: Action-Packed Footage In 2 New “Avengers: Age of Ultron’ TV Spots, Plus Watch Interviews With The Entire Cast Watch: Action-Packed Footage In 2 New “Avengers: Age of Ultron’ TV Spots, Plus Watch Interviews With The Entire Cast Watch: Trailer For 'The Great Beauty' Director Paolo Sorrentino's 'Youth' Starring Michael Caine & Rachel Weisz Watch: Trailer For 'The Great Beauty' Director Paolo Sorrentino's 'Youth' Starring Michael Caine & Rachel Weisz Joss Whedon Says He's Not Making 'Avengers: Infinity War' Because It's "A Young Man’s Game" Joss Whedon Says He's Not Making 'Avengers: Infinity War' Because It's "A Young Man’s Game" Watch: Take 7 Minutes And Learn The History Of Film Editing Watch: Take 7 Minutes And Learn The History Of Film Editing 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron' Called "Amazing" And "More Emotional" With "Insane Action" After First Screening 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron' Called "Amazing" And "More Emotional" With "Insane Action" After First Screening Joss Whedon Calls 'Jurassic World' Clip "70s Era Sexist" Joss Whedon Calls 'Jurassic World' Clip "70s Era Sexist" The 20 Most Anticipated Films Of The 2015 Tribeca Film Festival The 20 Most Anticipated Films Of The 2015 Tribeca Film Festival The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki

R.I.P. Sidney Lumet (1924-2011)

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist April 9, 2011 at 4:51AM

The streets of New York City have lost one of their greatest cinematic voices as legendary filmmaker Sidney Lumet has passed away at the age of 86.
6


The streets of New York City have lost one of their greatest cinematic voices as legendary filmmaker Sidney Lumet has passed away at the age of 86.

Where does one even begin talking about Lumet? His body of work is littered with classics -- "12 Angry Men," "The Pawnbroker," "Serpico," "Network," "Dog Day Afternoon," "Long Day's Journey Into Night" -- each deserving of their own article. His filmography stretches well over five decades, finding him working with a staggering array of talent including Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Paul Newman, Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, Lauren Bacall and John Gielgud and thus respectfully summarizing his career and achievements will inevitably only scratch the surface, as the director made a huge impression on both television and cinema.

Lumet got his start on the small screen as a prolific director for Playhouse 90, Kraft Television Theatre and Studio One, with his adaptation of "The Iceman Cometh," starring Jason Robards, which is considered one of his finest works for the small screen. But he would then hit the ground running in feature films.

His first movie, "12 Angry Men," is an undeniable classic, following the heated workings of jury members as they deliberate a murder case with one juror slowly convincing the others that the man on trial is innocent. And the thin line between law and order and the shifting morality of those involved would become an important, recurring theme for Lumet through this career. Films like "Serpico," "The Prince Of The City," "The Verdict," "Q&A," "Night Falls On Manhattan" and the television series "100 Centre Street" would investigate these themes from various, usually highly-charged points of view.

But Lumet was also a lover of good theater, using plays as the foundation for many of the films in his early career. Tennessee Williams’s "The Fugitive Kind," Arthur Miller’s “View from the Bridge,” Eugene O’Neill’s "The Iceman Cometh" and "Long Day's Journey Into Night" and Anton Chekhov's "Sea Gull" all made their way to the big screen shepherded by Lumet.

And even with all this, there are still his other crowning achievements. There's "Network," the scathing commentary on exploitative television that earned ten Academy Award nominations and five wins. The contained nuclear scare drama "Fail Safe," the powerful "The Pawnbroker" about a Holocaust survivor numbed by his experiences during the war, "The Anderson Tapes" about penetrating electronic surveillance (with a great score by Quincy Jones), the star-studded "Murder On The Orient Express," the gripping WWII prison drama "The Hill," and hell, there's even his flop "The Wiz" a grand scale re-telling of "The Wizard Of Oz" with Michael Jackson and Diana Ross.

It's hard to adequately cover Lumet's influence on the world of filmmaking. It's pretty much impossible to watch any cop drama, law series or procedural without seeing his fingerprint somewhere. His films had an emphasis on character and an intuitive knack for turning his frequent shooting location of New York City into its own living, breathing character. And while his work frequently touched upon social issues or concerns about the system, that sense of morality never turned into a strident message; it was always about the story first.

Lumet was nominated for Best Director four times, and Best Screenplay once, never winning, but he earned an honorary Oscar from the Academy in 2005. He will be greatly missed. [NY Times]









This article is related to: Vintage Directors, Sidney Lumet


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates