Sunday, April 24, 2011

RIP Sidney Lumet

One of the most underrated directors in film history has died.

Sidney Lumet's first film, the courtroom drama 12 Angry Men (1957) starring Henry Fonda, is arguably the most popular film from the 50s on the Internet. In 1964, he directed Rod Steiger in The Pawnbroker, a gritty drama of a Holocaust survivor in Harlem, and Fail-Safe, the more sober version of nuclear destruction than Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove. During the seventies, he had three classics: Serpico (1973) starring Al Pacino, Dog Day Afternoon (1975) with Pacino as the leader of a bankrobbing outfit and Network (1976) which is still the only film besides A Streetcar Named Desire to have three Oscar-winning performances. As seventies-style cinema began to die, he made two more movies in the 80s that recalled the best of the era: Prince of the City (1981) and The Verdict (1982) with Paul Newman.

He won a lifetime achievement Oscar in 2005, which the NY Times described as a “consolation prize for a lifetime of neglect.” Looking at his contribution to film history, that's a major understatement...

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