Sidney Lumet is a master of cinema, best known for his technical knowledge and his skill at getting first-rate performances from his actors -- and for shooting most of his films in his beloved New York -- he has made over 40 movies, often emotional, but seldom overly sentimental. He often tells intelligent, complex stories. Although his politics are somewhat left-leaning and he often treats socially relevant themes in his films, he doesn't want to make political movies in the first place, and some of them (Serpico (1973), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Prince of the City (1981), Q & A (1990)) are atmospherically comparable to the gritty, intense films of Scorsese. Born on June 25, 1924, in Philadelphia, the son of actor Baruch Lumet and dancer Eugenia Wermus Lumet, he made his stage debut at age four at the Yiddish Art Theater in New York. He played many roles on Broadway in the 1930s (such as "Dead End"), and his acting debut in films came in ...One Third of a Nation... (1939). In 1947 he started an off-Broadway acting troupe that included such future stars as Yul Brynner and Eli Wallach, and other former members of Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio who had become unsatisfied with Strasberg's concepts. Lumet made his stage directing debut in 1955. However, he had been directing television shows since 1950, beginning at CBS, and soon became regarded as an important TV director. He piloted about 150 episodes of the crime series "Danger" (1950) and 26 episodes of "You Are There" (1953) (he was still directing successful TV teleplays as late as 1960, long after he had become an established film director). He made his feature film directing debut with 12 Angry Men (1957), which won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival and earned Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay, and is justly regarded as one of the most auspicious directorial debuts in film history. It takes place almost entirely in a jury room (in several Lumet films you can find the motif of the closed space). His second and third films, Stage Struck (1958) and That Kind of Woman (1959) respectively, are considered less important. Lumet directed Marlon Brando in the imperfect but powerful The Fugitive Kind (1959), an underrated, financially unsuccessful adaptation of Tennessee Williams' "Orpheus Descending". Afterwards he also directed the French-Italian Arthur Miller adaptation Vu du pont (1962) ("A View From the Bridge"). The first half of the 1960s was one of Lumet's most artistically successful periods. Long Day's Journey Into Night (1962), a masterful, brilliantly photographed adaptation of the Eugene O'Neill play, is one of several Lumet films about families. It earned Katharine Hepburn, Ralph Richardson, Dean Stockwell and Jason Robards deserved acting awards in Cannes and Hepburn an Oscar nomination. Lumet's next film, Fail-Safe (1964), a tense drama about the Cold War, unfairly suffered from comparison to Stanley Kubrick's equally great satire Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), which was released shortly before. It was followed by the masterful drama The Pawnbroker (1964) about a Holocaust survivor who lives in New York and can't overcome his experiences in the Nazi concentration camps. Rod Steiger's unforgettable performance in the title role earned an Academy Award nomination. Lumet's intense character study The Hill (1965), about inhumanity in a military prison camp, was expertly directed and featured superb performances by Sean Connery (with whom Lumet made five films) and Harry Andrews, among others. After the overly talky but rewarding drama The Group (1966) about young upper-class women in the 1930s, and the stylish spy thriller The Deadly Affair (1966) (with a fine cast including James Mason, Maximilian Schell and Simone Signoret), the late 1960s turned out to be a less successful phase in Lumet's career. The comedy Bye Bye Braverman (1968) and the old-fashioned, but noteworthy Anton Chekhov adaptation The Sea Gull (1968) got mixed reviews. The Appointment (1969) and Last of the Mobile Hot Shots (1970) are among Lumet's few minor movies. The documentary film King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis (1970), which Lumet co-directed with Joseph L. Mankiewicz, received an Academy Award nomination. His unusual caper movie The Anderson Tapes (1971) (starring Connery again) was a box-office hit. The British production The Offence (1972) was commercially less successful, but artistically brilliant - showing Connery in one of his best performances. The terrific cop thriller Serpico (1973), the first of his films about police corruption in New York City, featured a fascinating Al Pacino and is often considered the beginning of the most successful phase of Lumet's career. It was also one of his biggest critical and financial successes. Pacino won the Golden Globe, and the picture earned two Oscar nominations. Lovin' Molly (1974) was not always convincing in its atmospheric details, but Lumet's fine sense of emotional truth keeps it interesting. His British adaptation of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express (1974) was another success, a very good, exquisitely photographed murder mystery with an all-star cast (including Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Connery and Ingrid Bergman). It earned six Oscar nominations, and Bergman won her third Academy Award. Then Lumet directed the hit Dog Day Afternoon (1975), a complex masterpiece about a bungled bank robbery in New York City. Pauline Kael called it "one of the best "New York" movies ever made." It starred a wonderful Al Pacino and earned six Academy Award nominations (including Best Picture, Director and Actor) and won the Academy Award for Frank Pierson's Original Screenplay. Lumet's following film is one of his most famous: the media satire Network (1976). It earned ten Academy Award nominations (including Picture and Director) and won in four categories (Best Actor for Peter Finch, Best Actress for Faye Dunaway, Best Original Screenplay by Paddy Chayefsky, Best Supporting Actress for Beatrice Straight). Lumet won the Golden Globe for his direction (he won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards for his direction in Dog Day Afternoon (1975) and Network (1976). Both pictures won LAFCA awards for Best Picture, too). Lumet's adaptation of Peter Shaffer's stage play Equus (1977) earned Oscar nominations for Richard Burton and Peter Firth and for Shaffer's screenplay. The musical The Wiz (1978) earned four Oscar nominations, but was a critical and commercial misfire. The comedy Just Tell Me What You Want (1980) seemed a bit strange, but featured a fine Alan King performance. Lumet won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for his outstanding direction of Prince of the City (1981), one of his best and most typical films. It's about police corruption, but hardly a remake of Serpico (1973). Starring a powerful Treat Williams, it's an extraordinarily multi-layered film. In his highly informative book "Making Movies" (1995), Lumet describes the film in the following way: "When we try to control everything, everything winds up controlling us. Nothing is what it seems." It's also a movie about values, friendship and drug addiction and, like "Serpico", is based on a true story. It was adapted by Lumet himself and Jay Presson Allen from Robert Daley's book. Their screenplay earned an Academy Award nomination, and the picture, Lumet and Williams earned Golden Globe nominations. After his entertaining thriller Deathtrap (1982) Lumet directed another masterful courtroom drama, The Verdict (1982), starring Paul Newman, James Mason, Jack Warden and Charlotte Rampling. The picture, Lumet, Newman, Mason and David Mamet's Adapted Screenplay earned well-deserved Academy Award nominations. Lumet's controversial drama Daniel (1983) with Timothy Hutton, an adaptation of E.L. Doctorow's "The Book of Daniel" about two young people whose parents were executed during the McCarthy Red Scare hysteria in the 1950s for alleged espionage, is one of his underrated achievements. Lumet writes in "Making Movies": "Despite its critical and financial failure, I think it's one of the best pictures I've ever done." After this film, though, Lumet's reputation fell a bit although even such lesser works as Garbo Talks (1984), Power (1986) and The Morning After (1986) (which earned Jane Fonda an Oscar nomination) have their virtues. Although it is one of his lesser known films, Running on Empty (1988) is a real masterpiece. Thematically similar to "Daniel", it's story concerns a family on the run from the FBI, because the parents (played by Christine Lahti and Judd Hirsch) committed a bomb attack on a napalm laboratory in 1971 to protest the war in Vietnam. The son (played by River Phoenix) gets into an inner conflict: he loves a girl (Martha Plimpton) and wishes to stay with her and study music, but that would destroy the family, and he knows that his parents need him. The film features magnificent performances by all the actors. Phoenix earned a well-deserved Oscar nomination for his extraordinarily moving performance. Lahti won the LAFCA award for her equally excellent interpretation. Naomi Foner's screenplay won the Golden Globe and earned an Oscar nomination. The film earned four other Golden Globe nominations as well (Picture, Director, Lahti and Phoenix). After the entertaining, well-acted, but uneven gangster comedy Family Business (1989) (with Sean Connery, Dustin Hoffman and Matthew Broderick) Lumet gave us the complex, strangely underrated cop thriller Q & A (1990) with fine performances by Nick Nolte, Timothy Hutton, Armand Assante, among others. The crime drama A Stranger Among Us (1992) blended genres in a way that did not seem to match people's expectations, but its contemplations about life arouse interest. After the rather sterile courtroom thriller Guilty as Sin (1993), Lumet's Night Falls on Manhattan (1996) was an imperfect but fascinating crime drama in the tradition of his own thematically similar works "Serpico", "Prince of the City" and "Q&A". After the misunderstood Critical Care (1997) and the unconvincing Gloria (1999) remake, Lumet's last two movies, the unjustly neglected Find Me Guilty (2006) and the acclaimed crime thriller Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007), were an impressive comeback. In 1993 Lumet received the D.W. Griffith Award from the Directors Guild of America and in 2005 he received a well-deserved honorary Academy Award for his outstanding contribution to modern filmmaking. Sidney Lumet tragically died of cancer in 2011.IMDb Mini Biography By: Karl Rackwitz <email@example.com>
|Mary Gimbel||(1980 - 9 April 2011) (his death)|
|Gail Lumet Buckley||(23 November 1963 - 1978) (divorced) 2 children|
|Gloria Vanderbilt||(27 August 1956 - 24 August 1963) (divorced)|
|Rita Gam||(1949 - 15 August 1955) (divorced)|
Highly dialogue driven films, with a lot of speeches and dramatic verbal duels.
On all his films he assembles the cast for a two week rehearsal in which they perform the script from beginning to end like a play. This cuts down on the need for repeated takes during filming.
Keeps a realistic atmosphere by using very little music
His characters are often persecuted men striving for justice
Films often take place over a short period of time
Most of his films were shot in New York City and almost none of them were shot in Hollywood
Films often take place in single confined locations
Recurring themes of corrupt or inept authority figures
Studied acting with Sanford Meisner.
Lumet is often a favorite director for actors, encouraging the creative collaboration of his stars.
Was voted the 42nd Greatest Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume Two, 1945-1985." Pages 610-617. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1988.
Directed 17 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Katharine Hepburn, Rod Steiger, Al Pacino, Ingrid Bergman, Albert Finney, Chris Sarandon, Faye Dunaway, Peter Finch, Beatrice Straight, William Holden, Ned Beatty, Peter Firth, Richard Burton, Paul Newman, James Mason, Jane Fonda and River Phoenix. Bergman, Dunaway, Finch and Straight won oscars for their performances in one of Lumets movies.
It was Lumet's idea to make the characters Cuban and to include the 1980 Mariel harbor boat lift in the story in Scarface (1983).
Member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1982.
Interviewed in Peter Bogdanovich's "Who the Devil Made It: Conversations With Robert Aldrich, George Cukor, Allan Dwan, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, Chuck Jones, Fritz Lang, Joseph H. Lewis, Sidney Lumet, Leo McCarey, Otto Preminger, Don Siegel, Josef von Sternberg, Frank Tashlin, Edgar G. Ulmer, Raoul Walsh." NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997.
After the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001 he caused some controversy by continuing to shoot his New York based series "100 Centre Street" (2001) for the remainder of the day. Lumet said he told the crew that they could leave if they wanted but that no one did.
Roger Ebert says of Lumet's book Making Movies that it "has more common sense in it about how movies are actually made than any other I have read.".
Given a lifetime achievement award by the Savannah College of Art and Design at the 2005 Savannah Film Festival. The same award was later found hidden in a patch of shrubbery at a three-point intersection in Brooklyn.
Served in the Army during WWII.
Son of Baruch Lumet and Eugenia Wermus, both actors in the Yiddish Theatre. The family moved to New York City when he was a baby where they joined the Yiddish Art Theatre.
He served the United States Army as a radar technician in the Far East during World War II.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Gimbel of New York City; stepdaughter, Leslie Gimbel; two daughters, Amy Lumet and Jenny Lumet, from his marriage to Gail Lumet Buckley; stepson, Bailey Gimbel; nine grandchildren; and a great-grandson.
He lived in New York City and East Hampton, Long Island, New York.
Longtime friend of John Connell.
Stepfather of sound editor Leslie Gimbel and Bailey Gimbel.
His final resting place is New Mount Carmel Cemetery in Glendale, New York.
There's no such thing as a small part. There are just small actors.
If a director comes in from California and doesn't know the city at all, he picks the Empire State Building and all the postcard shots, and that, of course, isn't the city.
All great work is preparing yourself for the accident to happen.
[from 1973] All I want to do is get better and quantity can help me to solve my problems. I'm thrilled by the idea that I'm not even sure how many films I've done. If I don't have a script I adore, I do one I like. If I don't have one I like, I do one that has an actor I like or that presents some technical challenge.
(Oct. 2007) Melodrama is a much maligned genre. And I hope we can bring it back into fashion. I always think of melodrama as the thing we are all capable of that's swept under the rug.
[Oct 2007] Anything you can do with film, I can do with HD.
[on Christopher Reeve] What seemed such a nice, simple, artless performance in "Superman" was the finest kind of acting. Reeve's timing -- and humor -- has to be just about perfect to make the character come off.
[on Paul Newman] Paul's always been one of the best actors we've got, but there was that great stone face and those gorgeous blue eyes and a lot of people assumed he couldn't act. He got relegated to leading man parts and he wasn't using a quarter of his talent. Now he's able to cut loose and do sensational work.
[on Tab Hunter] Also talented, but primarily a character actor, yet always used as a leading man because he's so pretty. I've seen him do character parts in which he's really great. But, as a leading man, he tightens up. Mostly, he turned to character work in American television when his Hollywood career started going sour. Then, he played the roles of psychotic killers and so forth, and his talent became clear.
[on Ralph Richardson] There's no secret about the fact that Ralph is terrified of the camera. But, at the same time, he is unquestionably a great actor. Yet, he looks to a director, too.
[on Akira Kurosawa] Kurosawa never affected me directly in terms of my own movie-making because I never would have presumed that I was capable of that perception and that vision.
While the goal of all movies is to entertain, the kind of film is which I believe goes one step further. It compels the spectator to examine one facet or another of his own conscience. It stimulates thought and sets the mental juices flowing.
Look, on a movie, we're all giving each other something precious. No bullshit, I can't think of a better job. It's not a technique. I'm not a fool. I think I'm a talented man. But then there's luck. I think there's a reason luck doesn't always happen to others. They don't know how to prepare the groundwork for luck. I do.
(on actors): I understand what they're going through. The self-exposure, which is at the heart of all their work, is done using their own body. It's their sexuality, their strength or weakness, their fear. And that's extremely painful. And when they're not doing it in their performance, they pull back. They get shy. Paul Newman, who I worked with on The Verdict (1982), is one of the shyest men I've ever met. That's why rehearsal is so important.
[on the art of film]: I don't think art changes anything. I do it because I like it and it's a wonderful way to spend your life.
[on New York City]: Locations are characters in my movies. The city is capable of portraying a mood a scene requires.
While the goal of all movies is to entertain, the kind of film in which I believe goes one step further. It compels the spectator to examine one facet or another of his own conscience. It stimulates thought and sets the mental juices flowing.
If I'm moved by a scene, a situation... I have to assume that that's going to work for an audience.
In Hollywood, actors learn to act from watching television. In New York people learn to act by walking down the street.
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