Sidney Lumet has died. One less brilliant director on Earth today.
Harry here... This is a miserable way to wake up - to the news that one of the great directors has passed away.
I mean, think about it. Long before many of us were born in 1957, Lumet shot the brilliant 12 ANGRY MEN - the definitive jury film. Perhaps the best courtroom drama ever made - with sizzling performances from such brilliant actors as Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam, Jack Klugman, Jack Warden and Ed Begley. It is generally considered one of the flat out GREAT films. And that... ...that was just Lumet's first attempt at a feature film. He came out of television and throughout a great deal of his career he continued to make and contribute great work to television. SO much of it, unavailable to be seen still to this day. I'd love to see his Television remake of RASHOMON with Ricardo Montalban. I mean, seriously...
I loved his LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT, based upon Eugene O'Neill's own home life - fueled by the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Sir Ralph Richardson, Jason Robards and Dean Stockwell... Or his utterly brilliant film with Rod Steiger, THE PAWNBROKER - a film I really can not recommend highly enough.
Lumet's FAIL-SAFE was the flip side serious take to Kubrick's satiric DR. STRANGELOVE - but no less great. This is a film about the nightmare. A mistake that will cost millions of lives, but a President, played by Henry Fonda - who must, in turn, make an in-human decision in order to save the planet from death. FAIL-SAFE is as great as a film gets. Walter Matthau's Groeteschele is a character that lives in a cynics' mind. And he's kind of evil. I loved Larry Hagman in this. But this film illustrated Stan Lee's "With great power comes Great Responsibility" and my father had recorded this film in the late 70s off of some showing on TV - and I saw it several times - and it scared me. Those were still the Cold War days when Bombers with Nukes were in the sky - preserving life on Earth through the brilliant madness of Mutually Assured Destruction.
By the time the decade of the 70s came about, Lumet hit a stride that is not likely to be replicated. I mean... SERPICO, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, DOG DAY AFTERNOON, NETWORK, EQUUS and yes, even THE WIZ. That's an amazing group of films to come from the direction of a single man. I mean - to really think about DOG DAY AFTERNOON and THE WIZ coming from the same man is just astonishing. That somewhere in Lumet he had THE WIZ. It's one of the reasons that Sidney always made me smile, because as a little boy growing up at the time, I thought THE WIZ was pretty goddamn cool. And I still think it is one of the most visually creative and fucked up movies I've ever seen - and I've seen most of the creative fucked up stuff - and this one works for me. I can only blame Michael Jackson, Stan Winston and Sidney Lumet.
The film that Lumet made that most fucked with me, was DEATHTRAP. I saw DEATHTRAP when I was 10 years old, and when Christopher Reeve and Michael Caine kiss - I became a very confused boy. SUPERMAN was gay? And in my oddly geek boy logic center... I accepted that and decided if SUPERMAN was gay, then that couldn't be a bad thing. Thanks to DRESSED TO KILL by DePalma I was on a pretty solid path of Heterosexuality, but DEATHTRAP made me ok with Gay - without ever having to have someone to tell me what to think. I just figured, if SUPERMAN could be gay, it must be ok. I know. Crazy way to think about it, but I was 10.
I loved THE VERDICT with Paul Newman, THE MORNING AFTER with Jane Fonda & Jeff Bridges made me think that rape was the most repugnant thing that could ever be done.
Sidney Lumet was a director who was - very much - a cinematic Social Conscience. He made thrilling, engaging cinema that felt and often times was important.
Oddly enough - yesterday in Rehab, my Occupational Therapist told me that he was on IMDB reading about a film called BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD, which just happened to be Lumet's last film. We talked about how good Phillip Seymour Hoffman was - and I asked him if he'd seen Lumet's earlier work. Monday when I see Curtis, I get to tell him that Lumet is dead, but I think I'll pick 3 films... Probably FAIL-SAFE, DOG DAY AFTERNOON and NETWORK to loan him. That's a taste that you have to follow through with.
We've lost one of the great filmmakers since the 1950's. He was a senior director making solid and strong emotional work all the way until the end. As a lover of cinema that pushes social concerns, that is about quality and power... Lumet will be missed greatly.
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
+ Expand All
April 9, 2011, 1:10 p.m. CST
Harry says goodbye to Sidney Lumet...
April 9, 2011, 1:12 p.m. CST
April 9, 2011, 1:13 p.m. CST
Loved Lumet's work from a kid and only just heard about his passing. I'm gutted. RIP sir, the world has lost a visionary.
April 9, 2011, 1:14 p.m. CST
He was old, he had a good life, a great career. Hardly any of us will have a life as fulfilled. I mean, I'm not suggesting we break out the fireworks. It's sad that his time is done, but it isn't "miserable"; it's not a tragedy. Celebrate the man's life and his movies, I say.
April 9, 2011, 1:14 p.m. CST
April 9, 2011, 1:15 p.m. CST
What an amazing body of work. A great man that will be missed.
April 9, 2011, 1:16 p.m. CST
by Ian Sparke
...is just about the most irritating thing on the internet. "Post 0". Was this just a way to get rid of 'FIRST' posters? It's even more annoying than that. Especially on an obituary. I mean, come on.
April 9, 2011, 1:17 p.m. CST
I agree it's not a tragedy. He accomplished great things in his life and his films will be watched for many many years to come. I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore! RIP Sidney.
April 9, 2011, 1:18 p.m. CST
by Stifler's Mom
He was one of the masters. RIP good sir.
April 9, 2011, 1:19 p.m. CST
Very well said, Harry. I will likely be double dosing on 12 Angry Men and Dog Day Afternoon tonight.
April 9, 2011, 1:22 p.m. CST
by Shaner Jedi
and one of the best. RIP
April 9, 2011, 1:25 p.m. CST
April 9, 2011, 1:27 p.m. CST
He's always going to be in my top 5, his career was so rich and he made so many fantastic films.
April 9, 2011, 1:29 p.m. CST
You didn't know the difference between an actor and a character by the time you were ten?
April 9, 2011, 1:30 p.m. CST
do yourself a favor and watch it tonight, if you can. astonishingly brilliant and hilarious foreshadowing of everything from "glenn beck" to reality television. one of my all time favorites. "dog day afternoon," "before the devil" and "12 angry men"... not too shabby
April 9, 2011, 1:31 p.m. CST
Didn't know that. Damn he was good. And will be missed.
April 9, 2011, 1:35 p.m. CST
I couldn't get my head around how it was directed by an American. He also coaxed one of the best if not The best performance out of Connery.
April 9, 2011, 1:37 p.m. CST
by Judge Dredds Dirty Undies
Fucking brilliant film. Lumet was one of my favourite directors gutted he is gone.
April 9, 2011, 1:38 p.m. CST
I like THE HILL, I just don't love it. Wanted to love it much more than I did.
April 9, 2011, 1:40 p.m. CST
...are all still alive :s
April 9, 2011, 1:42 p.m. CST
Sean Connery plays a cop looking for a child molester.....but as the movie progresses and as he brutally beats the main suspect....you start to see that the things in Connery's mind which he obsesses over, are perhaps worse than what's out there. Great film and required viewing for everyone who has every posted in a Roman Polanski talkback.
April 9, 2011, 1:45 p.m. CST
That's why , like I said, I was amazed it was directed by an American. 12 Angry Men is also the best courtroom film of all time without actually going into court.
April 9, 2011, 1:47 p.m. CST
he was indeed a great director and timeless visionary. At least his work will live on as long as we preserve them in teh vaults....
April 9, 2011, 1:48 p.m. CST
by Shady Drifter
Farewell, Mr. Lumet. A legendary director. It's hard to choose my favourite film from this genius. I choose his whole body of work. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. So many of his films are under-rated such as The Hill and The Verdict. Dog Day Afternoon is one of the very greatest films ever. The man was a pioneer in so many genres - the court-room drama, heist movies, films about the media... RIP to a legend.
April 9, 2011, 1:52 p.m. CST
by david starling
But it is a powerful, extremely disturbing picture. I first saw it when I was 12, late at night on TVS (bygone British Commercial Television channel), and it scared the living crap out of me. In a ways, at that time, being so young, I felt horrible watching some of the characters traits and flaws - at times it felt like some of the mental beatings among ranks in the Sam Peckinpah movie Cross of Iron. I also think The Hill is brilliant, and if I had to pick another Sidney Lumet film that was just as brilliant (very difficult, his resume is something nobody could come close to!!), I would also pick Network. Network is a brilliantly sleek satire on the modern world, and dealt its deft touches a good 18 years before Oliver Stone and Quentin Tarantino hamfisted it (admittedly, apart) with the loathsome solf-love fest that is Natural Born Killers. Lumet was a total genius. A case of a man who always had something relevant and interesting to say, and affected a great many more people than they'd like to admit.
April 9, 2011, 1:53 p.m. CST
No. One of the greatest films ever made. Rest in Peace, Mr. Lumet. Thank you.
April 9, 2011, 1:58 p.m. CST
by The Krypton Kid
Thank you for your wisdom and sharing your genius. Rest well, sir.
April 9, 2011, 2:05 p.m. CST
by Drunken Irishman
I too count 12 Angry Men and Network as being among my favourite films ever. Hollywood has lost a true legend. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.
April 9, 2011, 2:08 p.m. CST
It's only the best film he ever made.
April 9, 2011, 2:10 p.m. CST
by Margot Tenenbaum
One of the greats of one of my favorite genres: NEW YORK CITY IN THE 1970s RIP
April 9, 2011, 2:10 p.m. CST
by Mr. Pricklepants
But don't worry, they'll never make a movie as good as DOG DAY AFTERNOON, NETWORK or 12 ANGRY MEN.
April 9, 2011, 2:12 p.m. CST
by Johnny Wishbone
I was hoping for more quality products like Find Me Guilty, Gloria, Guilty As Sin, and A Stranger Among Us.
April 9, 2011, 2:16 p.m. CST
An acting masterclass, Bulletproof script and Wonderful Direction. God bless you Sidney, You were good!
April 9, 2011, 2:22 p.m. CST
I would urge the publishers of his book making movies to republish that. it is nothing more and nothing less then the master at work taking you through the production of a movie step by step. it really is the only book about film that you need.
April 9, 2011, 2:28 p.m. CST
go raibh mile a maith agat.
April 9, 2011, 2:30 p.m. CST
It just shot to the top of my must-see list.
April 9, 2011, 2:40 p.m. CST
by Nasty In The Pasty
Considering how many former greats start coasting late in their careers and just cashing the check or else going completely insane (Coppola, De Palma, ect.), it was nice to have Lumet deliver an outright classic as his final film. A great fifty-year career, he will be missed.
April 9, 2011, 2:40 p.m. CST
12 ANGRY MEN, SERPICO, DOG DAY AFTERNOON.. all brilliant achievements. Great career, Sydney, thanks man. Rest well.
April 9, 2011, 2:41 p.m. CST
Amazing movies no one saw: Night Falls on Manhattan (1996) Q&A (1990) Family Business (1989) Seek them out. One of our most accomplished writer-directors ever. RIP.
April 9, 2011, 2:47 p.m. CST
Netflix has a film called GETTING OUT by Lumet, according to them, not released yet. So, I went to IMBD, and it's not in his filmography. Googled Lumet AND GETTING OUT and I got THIS SITE MAY HARM YOUR COMPUTER. So, be careful out there. Also wanted to see STRIP SEARCH, an HBO film, not on Netflix yet. Went to Amazon and someone wants $159.00! I love Lumet, but I can't stand grave robbers.
April 9, 2011, 2:48 p.m. CST
by Moniker Jones
This remains one of my personal favorites, and it's certainly one of the best films of the 1980s. It's also one of Lumet's most emotionally affecting features. Pure cinematic gold. I went through a huge Lumet kick about 7 or 8 years ago, and while I knew this day couldn't be far off in the distance, it literally made me say "No!" out loud when I read the news. A genuinely tragic day for cinephiles the world over.
April 9, 2011, 3:13 p.m. CST
by Grammaton Cleric Binks
Stand by Me are about the only River Phoenix I can stomach. What else can be said about the movies listed in the obit? They don't make them like that anymore.
April 9, 2011, 3:25 p.m. CST
No love in here for The Anderson Tapes? Connery and Walken? I'll let that sink in for a moment. CONNERY AND WALKEN.
April 9, 2011, 3:36 p.m. CST
No wonder you liked Superman Returns. You had years to get used to the idea.
April 9, 2011, 3:47 p.m. CST
Netflix has a film called GETTING OUT by Lumet, according to them, not released yet. So, I went to IMBD, and it's not in his filmography. Googled Lumet AND GETTING OUT and I got THIS SITE MAY HARM YOUR COMPUTER. So, be careful out there. Also wanted to see STRIP SEARCH, an HBO film, not on Netflix yet. Went to Amazon and someone wants $159.00! I love Lumet, so I can't stand people who take advantage of film lovers checking out obscure titles by sending out viruses.
April 9, 2011, 3:53 p.m. CST
more good-great films in his career than perhaps anyone else. Network, Fail Safe, The Verdict, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, 12 Angry Men... the list is simply amazing. The funny thing is he did make a film in 89 that, to this day, I detest: Family Business. For some reason every time I see this film I just hate watching it, even if the scene with Connery telling the judge (James Tolkan) to fuck himself is pretty funny. Regardless, a great career. <P> For me, Lumet will me missed along with guys like Kubrick or Newman.
April 9, 2011, 4:10 p.m. CST
Last seen in The Ghost Writer.
April 9, 2011, 4:17 p.m. CST
I always respected Lumet for being so passionate about the content of his films. He really believed they should have something to say. It probably cost him a lot of money over the years, but his films were always challenging and uncompromising. He was a true artist who will be profoundly missed.
April 9, 2011, 4:40 p.m. CST
But on the upside, he gave us great, great motion pictures that will live forever. It seems impossible that one man could enrich the planet so deeply, so consistently, for such a long period of time, but Lumet did it.
April 9, 2011, 4:48 p.m. CST
You learn a new thing every day. I might now watch THE WIZ in his honor. RIP Lumet
April 9, 2011, 4:49 p.m. CST
Amazing film. You can thank me later.
April 9, 2011, 5:12 p.m. CST
Will be missed.
April 9, 2011, 5:15 p.m. CST
It was absolutely brilliant. I thought I'd just watch the opening and fall asleep (I was in bed and it was midnight), but I was instantly hooked and couldn't stop watching.
April 9, 2011, 5:17 p.m. CST
April 9, 2011, 5:18 p.m. CST
Good way to put it: a great loss. Caught up pretty late with all the guys work... still more films to go. Don't know about Christopher Reeves kiss, but I would like to just point blank straight up (no pun intended) ask Bryan Singer if Returns is obviously a Gay coda for Superman in his interpretation. No matter what the actual response or answer, it would be interesting, for sure. I believe it to be so.
April 9, 2011, 5:23 p.m. CST
April 9, 2011, 5:25 p.m. CST
Not much to say for this epic passing. :-(
April 9, 2011, 5:27 p.m. CST
There is literally no other director ever that can claim that. Easily one of the 10 greatest American directors of all time, may even be in the top 10 period. 12 Angry Men The Fugitive Kind Vu Du Pont Long Day's Journey Into Night The Pawnbroker Fail-Safe The Hill The Anderson Tapes Serpico Murder On The Orient Express Dog Day Afternoon Network Equus The Wiz Deathtrap The Verdict Running On Empty Q&A Night Falls On Manhattan Before The Devil Knows You're Dead That's 20 fucking good movies. And there's more that aren't even listed here that are worth watching also. He directed 43 movies in his lifetime. 3/4ths of his catalog is solid. Again, there are very few directors with that amount of work that can claim that much consistency. What a legend.
April 9, 2011, 5:49 p.m. CST
by Booji Boy
Hi Harry I, too, remember fondly seeing "DEATHTRAP" in the theatre...and when Christopher Reeve kissed Michael Caine.....my stomach got all queesy. This was the first time I ever saw two guys kissing and it left an indelible mark on my young brain..... R.I.P.
April 9, 2011, 6:20 p.m. CST
Classic movies by a classy director. RIP
April 9, 2011, 7:32 p.m. CST
R I P Sidney! You will be missed! In a world of hack directors you were the real deal and more! I wish more people would read your books so they would understand more about the process of making a movie and understand just how difficult it can be. If you love movies Read Making movies by Sidney Lumet! It is a great read and a great way to understand film making in general!
April 9, 2011, 7:34 p.m. CST
those hack are still alive and making movies! Now that is true evil!!!
April 9, 2011, 7:40 p.m. CST
by Skyway Moaters
Right up there with the best of them, and apparently a sweetheart of a man. Rest well Mr. Lumet, you earned it. No more pain, no more chemo. Your work will live on and on...
April 9, 2011, 7:57 p.m. CST
BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD is a great movie. Thank you Sidney for all you've given us
April 9, 2011, 8:16 p.m. CST
Connery is brilliant, Ian Bannen is outstanding in this psychological thriller. Loved The Pawnbroker. Lumet was a master, indeed.
April 9, 2011, 9:02 p.m. CST
by Nasty In The Pasty
That's almost a movie a year for HALF-A-CENTURY.
April 9, 2011, 9:07 p.m. CST
With Phillip Seymour Hoffman sweatily doing Marisa Tomei doggy style.
April 9, 2011, 9:19 p.m. CST
that I've ever read. Can still remember reading that on the beach during the summer of '94, 16 years old, and just thinking "fuck, this is what I wanna do." 17 years later... I sell insurance. Just kidding. Actually, this is pretty sad, but really, the guy had a great life and a career and if this is at all shocking, it's because, like Ridley Scott, this guy seemed to be pretty robust and healthy well into old age and even as late as a year or two ago the last time I saw him interviewed, he seemed to be perfectly fine. Anyway, he left behind a great legacy.
April 9, 2011, 9:25 p.m. CST
by frank cotton
April 9, 2011, 10:51 p.m. CST
by Shaner Jedi
yeah but Marisa Tomei on all fours was not gross.
April 9, 2011, 11:22 p.m. CST
Fail Safe was so damn good. Frank Overton and even Dom Deluise!!
April 9, 2011, 11:32 p.m. CST
her best performance. thank you Mr Lumet.
April 10, 2011, 3:25 a.m. CST
do it today! And think yourself blessed!
April 10, 2011, 5:30 a.m. CST
Two of my favorite director techniques of all-time: Lumet deliberately keeping the color blue out of the THE VERDICT except for Paul Newman's blue eyes. Lumet shooting the first third of 12 ANGRY MEN from a higher angle, the middle third from a level angle, and the last third from a low angle so that the ceiling was visible, and gradually going from wide angle lenses to telephoto lenses. Giving the viewer a visual representation of the pressure and claustrophobia the jurors were increasingly feeling. He was brilliant.
April 10, 2011, 5:34 a.m. CST
by Con Shonnery
Anyone who claims to love movies should have a collection of this man's films. He was one of the true greats. RIP
April 10, 2011, 6:12 a.m. CST
Michael Corleone and his brother Fredo rob a bank together, and meanwhile, Jerry Dandridge from Fright Night is trying to shape shift from a man to a woman. But Michael gives him a couple qualudes, and then he loves him the next morning.
April 10, 2011, 6:37 a.m. CST
Scared the fuck out of me as a kid. Just watched 12 Angry Men again the other night. ATTICA! Such amazing films. He will be missed. RIP.
April 10, 2011, 6:54 a.m. CST
by Jack Black
Know Harry didn't mention, but worth a look (even at it's 3hrs or so running time).
April 10, 2011, 7:59 a.m. CST
The hilarious 'Tube' speech of Peter Finch is exactly whats goin on today. And don't forget Ned Beattys 'Money Talk'. Thank you Mr. Lumet and R.I.P.
April 10, 2011, 9:40 a.m. CST
Who also directed Paul Newman in another movie the year before: "Absence of Malice" in 1981.
April 10, 2011, 10:23 a.m. CST
April 10, 2011, 10:39 a.m. CST
April 10, 2011, 1:31 p.m. CST
Honestly, I don't think a role as a sociopath who is also gay made being gay look good. If anything it connected being gay with being immoral and flat out evil. I think Victor/Victoria deserves far more credit for giving homosexuals a flattering portrayal on film at that time. "You bitches!" I just realized we lost the directors of both those movies just recently now. Very sad times!
April 10, 2011, 4:35 p.m. CST
It was an ok movie, I really like Linus Roache and it was cool to see Vin Diesel try something different, and the dward lawyer played by Peter Dinkage was great....I think my fave flick of his is Running On Empty with the late great River Phoenix, and also Judd Hirsch did great in it too, and the mom I forgot her name but she was top notch.
April 10, 2011, 7:13 p.m. CST
And Who is Cindy Luminous?
April 10, 2011, 7:21 p.m. CST
I am Super
April 10, 2011, 7:21 p.m. CST
I am Paul Reserved!
April 10, 2011, 11:41 p.m. CST
It's a crime that Lumet's 1972 adaptation of Robert Marasco's creepy stage drama has never been released to home video in any form. And I think we know who to blame for that. Burn in hell, Chucky!
April 10, 2011, 11:48 p.m. CST
I thought it was a better police corruption movie than "Serpico." Didn't know Sidney Lumet did both! "Q&A" and "Night Falls on Manhattan" were also worthwhile efforts in that genre, if not as memorable. RIP: Mr. Lumet.
I second the appreciation for THE HILL. Both a prison movie and an anti-war movie - if you haven't seen it then well worth seeking out .I'd personally put it up there with 12 ANGRY MEN as Lumet's best work. RIP.
April 11, 2011, 9 a.m. CST
Thanks for all the cool times mr lumet
April 11, 2011, 10:24 a.m. CST
that were actually about something, a rarity nowadays.
April 11, 2011, 11:50 a.m. CST
Thank you, Mr. Lumet for giving me a lot of film education without going to UCLA or USC. If you into film at all, get his books.
April 11, 2011, 12:33 p.m. CST
by Samuel Fulmer
It's called Fox News, except if back in 1976 people were able to see a broadcast of Fox News, they would think it had to be a fake newscast.
April 11, 2011, 12:34 p.m. CST
by Samuel Fulmer
That actually knew how to get Connery to act in a non-Connery way.
April 11, 2011, 1:06 p.m. CST
by Samuel Fulmer
Prince of the City underhyped.
- HERCULES ON THE RADIO!! Ain’t It Cool’s TV Critic Chats Up BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER / ED WOOD Icon (And Hollywood Royalty) Juliet Landau!! Listen And Call In LIVE Saturday 10pm PT / Sunday 1am ET!! -- 356 total posts 329 posts
- ‘He’s Worse Than Anybody!!’ Sunday Brings HBO’s Season Finale Of TRUE DETECTIVE!! -- 85 total posts 85 posts
- Harry shares Day 1 of SXSW which stars Jon Favreau's utterly delicious CHEF!!! -- 210 total posts 81 posts
- ‘We Got Six Bullets!!’ Sunday Brings WALKING DEAD 4.13!! -- 55 total posts 55 posts
- Darker ZORRO Reboot Finds its Writer! -- 297 total posts 44 posts
- TERMINATOR: GENESIS to be a sequel, reboot, and prequel all at the same time!?! -- 490 total posts 36 posts
- Hercules Says RESURRECTION Is Easily The Best Broadcast Pilot Of The 2013-14 Season And ABC’s Best Pilot In Years!! -- 35 total posts 35 posts
- Nordling's Day One Of SXSW 2014 - THE DESERT And PREMATURE! -- 26 total posts 19 posts
- Quint eats up Jon Favreau's CHEF, opening night flick of SXSW 2014! -- 43 total posts 15 posts
- Fox Renews For Next Season THE MINDY PROJECT, THE FOLLOWING, BROOKLYN NINE-NINE And NEW GIRL!! -- 68 total posts 14 posts