Let us now praise Sidney Lumet

*Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead *(2007)
*Find Me Guilty *(2006)
*Rachel, quand du seigneur *(2004)
*Gloria *(1999)
*Critical Care *(1997)
*Night Falls on Manhattan *(1997)
*Guilty as Sin *(1993)
*A Stranger Among Us *(1992)
*Q & A *(1990) *(also as Alan Smithee: television prints)
*Family Business *(1989)
*Running on Empty *(1988)
*The Morning After *(1986)
*Power *(1986)
*Garbo Talks *(1984)
*Daniel *(1983)
*The Verdict *(1982)
*Deathtrap *(1982)
*Prince of the City *(1981)
*Just Tell Me What You Want *(1980)
*The Wiz *(1978/I)
*Equus *(1977)
*Network *(1976)
*Dog Day Afternoon *(1975)
*Murder on the Orient Express *(1974)
*Lovin’ Molly *(1974)
*Serpico *(1973)
*Child’s Play *(1972)
*The Offence *(1972)
*The Anderson Tapes *(1971)
*King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis *(1970)
*Last of the Mobile Hot Shots *(1970)
*The Appointment *(1969)
*The Sea Gull *(1968)
*Bye Bye Braverman *(1968)
*The Deadly Affair *(1966)
*The Group *(1966)
*The Hill *(1965)
*Fail-Safe *(1964)
*The Pawnbroker *(1964)
*Long Day’s Journey Into Night *(1962)
*Vu du pont *(1961)
*The Fugitive Kind *(1959)
*That Kind of Woman *(1959)
*Stage Struck *(1958)
*12 Angry Men *(1957)

—and that’s not including all the television work he’s done over the years.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Lumet is not, for me, one of the capital-gee Greats. But the consistency with which he’s pretty damn good, and the occasional near greatness (Network, Dog Day Afternoon, Failsafe, The Pawnbroker)—along with the rarity of real stinkers (The Wiz, Gloria, A Stranger Among Us) and his mastery of such varied genres (from *Serpico *to Murder on the Orient Express) qualifies him for some kudos.

I’ve recently watched a handful of his movies, and was thus moved to make this post. *Serpico *stands up to the test of time. Prince of the City, while stylistically fascinating, is hampered by a thin lead performance by Treat Williams. Murder on the Orient Express is a frothy and entertaining celebration of glamor and Star Quality.)

Oh, and plus he’s still putting out some pretty decent movies at 83.

(For those of you who avoided it because it just looks so awful—as I did until a favorite critic mentioned it favorably—Find Me Guilty is one of the best courtroom dramas of recent years. Vin Diesel doesn’t ruin it.)

In terms of his overall career, I think Lumet is rather underrated. Although he’s done a variety of films, he’s done his best work doing somewhat gritty tales set in an urban environment (e.g., Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Prince of the City, and The Verdict). In fact, he should have been the one to direct the film version of Bonfire of the Vanities. Unfortunately, they picked Brian De Palma to do it instead (which, in my view, almost immediately doomed the project from the start).

Sidney Lumet has died at age 86. Rather than repost all of his accomplishments, I’ve resurrected this zombie thread.

Boo. I thought **lissener **was back.

Sorry to disappoint.

Picture of Lumet with his wife and daughters (by his previous wife) Amy and Jenny. They were also the granddaughters of Lena Horne, so they’ve lost two close relatives who were also icons. That rarely happens outside of the Redgrave family, though at least with the Lumets their relatives had very long rich lives.

Gloria Vanderbilt trashed her first husband and adored second husband Stokowski (who was old enough to be her grandfather) and fourth husband Wyatt Cooper. I think she generally liked Lumet but their marriage didn’t work because he was a workaholic surrounded by beautiful women.

Lumet was certainly not a great director, and I do agree with Andrew Sarris categorizing him as “strained seriousness.” He was a somewhat more talented version of Stanley Kramer. Still, he was an important director and certainly an interesting one. His best – Dog Day Afternoon and The Anderson Tapes – are excellent films.

Network remains one of the most harrowing films I’ve ever seen, as it gets more true every year.

IMDb obit.

My first movie memory of his work was The Pawnbroker, quite the heavy drama for my fourteen-year-old mind, and the topless hooker scene didn’t hurt, either.

Here’s a tribute to Lumet from today’s Salon. It’s titled “He Made Films for Grown-Ups” which is an accurate assessment of his career.

I just saw Network the other night, and (spoilered for the people who are going to watch Sidney Lumet retrospectives)

The crazier Howard got, the more it seemed that he was turning into Glenn Beck sans chalkboard and crying.

BTW, Network is available on Netflix streaming.

Dangnabbit. This is MsRobyn, not Airman. Grr.

In an unfortunate choice of wording, a friend of mine posted that he made “adult films”. Oops.

I’ve been a fan of Lumet’s work for a while. We used his version of *Long Day’s Journey Into Night *as a resource in one of my college theatre courses. 12 Angry Men is a classic, of course, and Serpico is a great, gritty, urban film of its time. And I love, love, love The Verdict. It’s a fantastic film, and Lumet and Newman just work together so brilliantly in that.

But then, he also took Deathtrap … one of the great modern theatre scripts of all time, I say … and made a relative stinkeroo of a movie out of it. Eh, so he wasn’t perfect. But I’ll miss him.