Why Sidney Lumet made movies

Film director Sidney Lumet was prolific. He directed 44 movies in his lifetime, plus more than 200 television shows, and a handful of Broadway plays. New York Times chief film critic Manohla Dargis in 2005 called Lumet “one of the last of the great movie moralists.” Lumet, though, maintained he never was a crusader for [...]

Sidney Lumet meets Agatha Christie

Filming his 1974 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” had to be nothing but fun for director Sidney Lumet. Every big name actor and actress wanted to work for him by this time in his career and particularly on this project. So Lumet cast Albert Finney as the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot [...]

Lumet takes on “The Wizard of Oz”

One cannot help but wonder why Sidney Lumet, director of so many superb and critically acclaimed films, would take on a black retelling of “The Wizard of Oz” story. The 1978 movie that resulted – “The Wiz” – was hated by reviewers and lost $10.4 million for the backers, Motown Productions and Universal Pictures. The [...]

“The Pawnbroker”

Director Sidney Lumet’s movie, “The Pawnbroker”, came out in 1965. While there were a lot of movies by this time that dealt with the Holocaust, “The Pawnbroker” was the first American movie to tell the story from the viewpoint of a survivor . . . and it launched star Rod Steiger’s career as an A-list [...]

Sidney Lumet – The television years

Sidney Lumet, a giant among motion picture directors, learned his craft on the sets of such 1950s television series as “Danger,” the fictional docu-drama “You Are There,” “Studio One,” “Playhouse 90,” and “Kraft Television Theater.” Those shows, almost all of them live, ran a half-century or more ago. Lumet was 25 when he directed his [...]

Books and movies – Part 5

Film director Sidney Lumet took on Paddy Chayefsky’s biting satire of television, his script for “Network” and turned it into a movie that audiences found hysterical and television executives hated . . . A film that won four of the ten Academy Awards for which it was nominated, including Chayefsky’s third Oscar for script writing. [...]

Books and movies – Part 4

Remember how Sidney Lumet launched his career as a film director by directing the courtroom drama “12 Angry Men” in 1957? A dynamite movie. He wouldn’t return to that genre for a quarter of a century. When Lumet did, it was directing “The Verdict,” the story a hard-luck lawyer who redeems himself and his career [...]

Books and movies – Part 3

Two years after “Serpico”, film director Sidney Lumet’s police drama based on Peter Maas’s book, Lumet brought Al Pacino back for “Dog Day Afternoon,” the story of a botched Brooklyn bank robbery. Pacino, the cop hero in the first movie, was the bad-luck bank robber Sonny Wortzik in this movie. Sonny, in real life, was [...]

Books and movies – Part 2

Sidney Lumet was a New York City guy, grew up there, worked as a child actor on radio, in Yiddish theater, and on Broadway. After World War II, he taught acting classes, and directed in summer stock and Off-Broadway. In 1950, Lumet moved to television. Yul Brynner, then working as a director for CBS, brought [...]

Books and movies – Part 1

Sidney Lumet directed 44 movies during his lifetime – he died a week and a half ago – and a lot of them started life either as books or Broadway plays. Example number one, his first film “12 Angry Men”, brought out in 1957, was a remake of the 1954 production for CBS Television’s Studio [...]