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Introduction: Sidney Lumet (03:32)


This episode of “The Directors” explores the work of Lumet.” His most renowned films include “Serpico,” “Dog Day Afternoon,” and “Network.” His followers include Stephen Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and Spike Lee.

Lumet's Youth (02:04)

Lumet was born in Philadelphia in 1924. His family was involved in theater and he started acting in Yiddish theatrical productions at a young age. His mother died and he had a strained relationship with his abusive father.

Lumet's Early Careers (02:21)

Lumet volunteered for the U.S. Army and served as a radar technician in Burma, India, and China during World War II. After the war, he became involved in the Actor’s Studio and began directing for television.

“12 Angry Men" (03:36)

The courtroom drama was among Lumet’s early film projects. The story focuses on a jury holdout that is reluctant to assign the death penalty. Its auspicious debut heralded more classic films to come.

Cinematic Adaptations (02:55)

Lumet had a penchant for turning plays into motion pictures. Marlon Brando and Anna Magnani star in his 1960 adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play, “The Fugitive Kind.”

“The Pawnbroker" (02:20)

The 1964 picture is the first American film to address the Holocaust from the viewpoint of a survivor. Protagonist Sol Nazerman (Rod Steiger) is constantly reminded of the horrors of the camps.

"Fail-Safe" (02:00)

Lumet directed 1964 Cold War thriller. Henry Fonda plays the president in the aftermath of a mistake that brings the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war.

“The Hill" (02:26)

The military drama helped Sean Connery move beyond his association with the James Bond franchise. He stars as a sergeant who is punished for disobeying orders when standing up for his men.

“The Deadly Affair” (02:14)

Lumet directed the adaptation of John le Carré’s novel, “Call for the Dead.” The name of the movie’s protagonist was changed from George Smiley to Charles Dobbs because Paramount owned the rights to many of Le Carré’s books.

“Serpico" (03:50)

Lumet worked with Al Pacino for the first time in 1973. Pacino stars as Frank Serpico, an honest cop who blows the whistle on rampant corruption within the New York Police Department. The film earned four Oscar nominations.

“Murder on the Orient Express" (03:44)

Albert Finney stars as Agatha Christie’s iconic sleuth, Hercule Poirot, in Lumet’s 1974 adaptation. The all-star cast also includes Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, and Lauren Bacall.

“Dog Day Afternoon" (02:15)

Lumet reunited with Pacino for the 1975 hostage film. The director shot footage as if it was news coverage; actors wore personal clothing and improvised many performances.

“Network” (01:59)

This film was one of the greatest television satires of the 1970s, though Lumet saw it as more about corporate America. As Howard Beale, Peter Finch delivers an iconic rant about the pervasive influence of media.

“Prince of the City" (02:23)

Lumet directed the 1981 crime thriller starring Treat Williams as a narcotics detective. The film propelled Williams to greater fame.

“The Verdict" (02:38)

Paul Newman stars as an alcoholic lawyer who sees an opportunity to salvage his career. Lumet never won an Oscar for best director, but did receive a lifetime achievement award in 2005.

Lumet's Final Film (03:59)

Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke starred in “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.” Lumet died in 2011 and is remembered for making entertaining films that ask questions about the way we live our lives.

Credits: Sidney Lumet (00:39)

Credits: Sidney Lumet

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Sidney Lumet

Part of the Series : The Directors (Series 3)
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Sidney Lumet was an American director, producer, and screenwriter. He was nominated for the Academy Award four times, including for 12 Angry Men (1957), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Network (1976), which earned Peter Finch a posthumous Best Actor Oscar, and The Verdict (1982) starring Paul Newman. Known as the “actor's director” his films always featured powerful storytelling and social realism.

Length: 45 minutes

Item#: BVL192397

ISBN: 978-1-64623-534-6

Copyright date: ©2019

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