name = Sidney Lumet
birthdate = birth date and age|1924|6|25
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
yearsactive = 1939 - present
Gail Jones (1963-1978)
Mary Gimbel (1980-)
Academy Honorary Award
2005 Lifetime Achievement
goldenglobeawards = Best Director - Motion Picture
awards = Golden Berlin Bear
12 Angry Men"
NYFCC Award for Best Director
Prince of the City"
NBR Award for Best Director
Sidney Lumet (born
June 25 1924) is an Academy Award-receiving American film director, with over 50 films to his name, including the critically acclaimed " 12 Angry Men" (1957), " Serpico" (1973), " Dog Day Afternoon" (1975), "Network" (1976) and " The Verdict" (1982), all of which, except for Serpico (1973), earned him Academy Awardnominations for Best Director. He won an Academy Awardfor Lifetime Achievement in 2005, for his "brilliant services to screenwriters, performers, and the art of the motion picture."
Lumet was born in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Eugenia (née Wermus), an actress, and Baruch Lumet, a Yiddish theateractor, director, producer and writer. [ [http://www.filmreference.com/film/60/Sidney-Lumet.html Sidney Lumet Biography (1924-) ] ] He was the former son-in-law of Lena Horneas he was married to her daughter, the journalist and author Gail Lumet Buckley(née Gail Jones). The couple had two children before divorcing. He has also been married three other times, including once to Gloria Vanderbilt. [ [http://www.amctv.com/article/0,,1211-1--0-16-EST,00.html Sidney Lumet biography] on AMCTV.com. Accessed August 30, 2006.]
A graduate of the
Professional Children's School, Lumet was an actor before he was a director. Lumet made his stage debut at New York's Yiddish Art Theater at the age of four and acted in Yiddish theater and on Broadway into the 1950s.
Although known primarily for crime and legal dramas, Lumet also directed the lavish, all-star version of Agatha Christie's classic period mystery "Murder on the Orient Express" (1974). His doomsday drama "Fail-Safe" (1964) starring
Henry Fondapainted a frightening picture of how the world as we know it could end due to a single human error. And no film has been as scathing or satirical in its portrayal of television's influence on society as his much-admired and much-quoted "Network" (1976).
The first of his many stories about a man bucking the system was 1957's acclaimed drama "
12 Angry Men", starring Fonda as a lone juror standing up for a seemingly guilty defendant. The same year, he directed a television adaptation of A. J. Cronin's " Beyond This Place" which starred Farley Granger, Peggy Ann Garner, Max Adrian, and Shelley Winters. A court of law would be the center of numerous Lumet films to come, notably in " The Verdict" (1982), in which an alcoholic attorney played by Paul Newmanfinds one final chance for redemption.
The director's powerful drama "
The Pawnbroker", featuring an Academy Award-nominated performance by Rod Steigeras a Holocaust survivor living in New York, became one of the most critically honored films of 1964. Al Pacinoalso earned Oscar nominations starring for Lumet in two extremely popular and well-reviewed pictures, " Serpico" (1973), the true story of a New York police officer's dangerous life undercover, and " Dog Day Afternoon" (1975), based on a real-life Brooklyn bank robbery that went spectacularly wrong.
In a radical departure from urban drama, Lumet tried his hand at a musical with "The Wiz" (1978), starring
Diana Rossas Dorothy and Michael Jacksonas the Scarecrow in a modernized version of "The Wizard of Oz." The film was neither a financial nor a critical success.
Well into his 80s, Lumet continues to be active in the film industry. At a press conference following a New York Film Festival press screening of his 2007 film, "
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead", Lumet announced his intention to shoot all future projects on HD instead of film, and predicted that celluloid would be abandoned by most of the industry within five years. [ [http://blog.spout.com/2007/09/20/nyff-sidney-lumet-joins-the-death-of-celluloid-brigade/ "NYFF: Sidney Lumet Joins The Death to Celluloid Brigade"] ]
In the 2002 Sight and Sound Directors' poll, Lumet revealed his top-ten films: The Best Years of Our Lives, Fanny and Alexander, The Godfather, The Grapes of Wrath, Intolerance, The Passion of Joan of Arc, Ran, Roma, Singin' in the Rain, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. [ [http://www.bfi.org.uk/sightandsound/topten/poll/voter.php?forename=Sidney&surname=Lumet "BFI: How the directors and critics voted"] ]
In 1970, Lumet said, “If you’re a director, then you’ve got to direct…. I don’t believe that you should sit back and wait until circumstances are perfect before you and it’s all gorgeous and marvelous…. I never did a picture because I was hungry…. Every picture I did was an active, believable, passionate wish. Every picture I did I wanted to do…. I’m having a good time.”
Lumet, in a statement posted on IMDB, said, “If I don't have a script I adore, I do one I like. If I don't have one I like, I do one that has an actor I like or that presents some technical challenge.”
Lumet has been directing since 1953, earning his chops the same time television was, doing shows like Danger, I Remember Mama and You Are There. He would move on to direct about 200 teleplays for Playhouse 90, Studio One, and Kraft Television Theater—the “Golden Age of Television”--establishing himself as one of the most prolific and talented directors of the small screen, specializing in intimate, intense, character driven, social realist dramas. Directing in black and white on a low budget, he capitalized on close-ups and medium shots on constricted sets to forge an intense, intimate mise en scene which would become his visual signature, and which would serve him exquisitely well in his brilliant film career.
Directing small-scale also compelled Lumet to work closely with his actors exploiting rehearsals to prepare them for rapid production. Lumet, because of these factors, is often accused of working carelessly. Nonetheless he has garnered five Academy Award nominations for Best Director.
Ethan Hawke, on a recent Charlie Roseshow, cited Lumet as one of the few directors he has worked with who understands an actor’s process and language.
They portray Lumet protagonists whose passion and intensity threaten to devour them. They could be difficult, driven by an unyielding superego, like his Frank Serpico, whose incorruptibility and disgust with police practices unleashed a mayoral investigation into police corruption. Sometimes they are already devoured when we first meet them, as in "Dog Day Afternoon" where the Pacino character is, this time, a desperate man willing to rob a bank in broad daylight to get his ex-boyfriend a sex change operation.
The crime epic "
Prince of the City" (1981) is to some Lumet’s masterpiece.
How criminal justice operates, not only in New York, has strongly influenced Lumet's films, in his many courtroom dramas but also in such diverse motion pictures as "The Hill" (1965) or "The Offence" (1973).)
Another of Lumet's signature storyline preoccupations presents itself in "Before the Devil Knows Your Dead" (2007): how children inadvertently or deliberately become burdened by the aspirations of their parents. From Lumet’s first masterpiece, his film adaptation of O’Neill’s "Long Day’s Journey Into Night" (1962) through "
Running on Empty" (1988) and " Family Business" (1989) the wounds caused by family dysfunctions leave permanent scars for Lumet’s protagonists. Dana Stevens, in her review for Slate of "Before the Devil Knows Your Dead," applauded the “claustrophobic suspense and deep compassion for its characters—abject, grasping everymen who truly believe they're only one act of violence away from everything they've ever wanted.”
Sidney Lumet has authored a book titled "Making Movies" which is highly regarded as an excellent introduction to the art and technique of movie-making. The book also gives an insider's account of the trials and tribulations a director has to undergo in the movie seeing the light of day.
*imdb name|id=0001486|name=Sidney Lumet
*ibdb name|id=15482|name=Sidney Lumet
* [http://filmforce.ign.com/articles/307/307220p1.html FilmForce profile]
* [http://www.geocities.com/karl_rackwitz/slumet.html A serious voice in American Cinema]
* [http://www.filmstew.com/Content/Article.asp?Pg=1&ContentID=10913 FilmStew interview]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrIs2BXwwq0 On the digital revolution NYFF07]
* [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5256247 Fresh Air interview from 2006 (audio)]
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