Wednesday, April 13, 2011

In Memoriam: Sidney Lumet

I know this comes a couple days late, but I feel bad not paying tribute to the great film director Sidney Lumet.  Lumet got most of his early work behind the camera in television, but he of course remembered more for the stellar films he directed on the big screen.

Lumet's first huge film was one of the best courtroom dramas of all time 12 Angry Men (1957).  This film launched his film career and set him on a great trajectory.  Lumet had a very strong film career with other movies like Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, Network (my personal favorite), The Wiz, The Verdict, Running on Empty and his last film (written by his daughters) Before the Devil Knows Your Dead.

Sidney Lumet was nominated for the Best Director Academy Award four times for 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon (1976), Network (1977), and The Verdict (1983); he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium in 1982 for Prince of the City.  His only Academy Award win came in 2005 when he was honored with the Honorary Award.

In his forty years in the film industry Mr. Lumet's crown jewel and most highly regarded film was network.  The film's famous quote that man recite is "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."  That line was uttered by actor Peter Finch who won a posthumous Oscar for this film.  The film also won Faye Dunaway her only Academy Award in the Best Actress category.  Network also won Beatrice Straight the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award, and Paddy Chayefsky the award for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.  Network had 6 other Academy Award nominations and lost Best Picture to Rocky (terrible win).  The film chronicles network television exploiting the rants of an old TV news journalist (Finch) for ratings.  The film tackles the modern era of TV news and the importance of ratings over quality.  This film was ahead of its time and its director Sidney Lumet was brilliant in the director's chair.

As we reflect on his passing here is a video of him speaking about films, what a sad time to lose such a brilliant director.

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