Talk:Sidney Lumet

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Pronunciation of his surname[edit]

Which syllable is accented? Is it LOOM-et or loom-ETT? If there is an authoritative source, the pronunciation should be added to the article. --Mathew5000 10:38, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

I've always heard it with the accent on the second syllable. - Jmabel | Talk 03:18, 13 January 2007 (UTC)

According to National Library Service it's pronounced loo-MET. I went ahead and added that to the article.Wikiwatcher1 (talk) 23:06, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

Section moved for discussion[edit]

My personal opinion on this section is that it takes away from the article. That's because it's too random, almost a hodge-podge, of short comments about various movies, without any order. The paragraphs are short and unrelated to one another and therefore gives the impression of trivia. Because all of the movies he directed are listed in the Filmography section, I think it would be better to just add comments to the movie's article. If he were an "average" good director, we could just pull out 5 or 10 of his best films to write about. But for Lumet, if we chose "only" his really good movies, we'd still have a massive article and too many disagreements. Open for other suggestions, however. --Wikiwatcher1 (talk) 03:32, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

Notable films[edit]

The following is a discussion of a number of his notable films.

Although known primarily for crime and legal dramas, Lumet also directed the lavish, all-star version of Agatha Christie's classic period mystery Murder on the Orient Express (1974). His doomsday drama Fail-Safe (1964) starring Henry Fonda painted a frightening picture of how the world as we know it could end due to a single human error. And no film has been as scathing or satirical in its portrayal of television's influence on society as his much-admired and much-quoted Network (1976).

The first of his many stories about a man bucking the system was 1957's acclaimed drama 12 Angry Men, starring Fonda as a lone juror standing up for a seemingly guilty defendant. The same year, he directed a television adaptation of A. J. Cronin's Beyond This Place which starred Farley Granger, Peggy Ann Garner, Max Adrian, and Shelley Winters. A court of law would be the center of numerous Lumet films to come, notably in The Verdict (1982), in which an alcoholic attorney played by Paul Newman finds one final chance for redemption.

The director's powerful drama The Pawnbroker, featuring an Academy Award-nominated performance by Rod Steiger as a Holocaust survivor living in New York, became one of the most critically honored films of 1964.

Al Pacino also earned Oscar nominations starring for Lumet in two extremely popular and well-reviewed pictures, Serpico (1973), the true story of a New York police officer's dangerous life undercover, and Dog Day Afternoon (1975), based on a real-life Brooklyn bank robbery that went spectacularly wrong.

In a radical departure from urban drama, Lumet tried his hand at a musical with The Wiz (1978), starring Diana Ross as Dorothy and Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow in a modernized version of "The Wizard of Oz." The film was neither a financial nor a critical success.

Well into his 80s, Lumet continues to be active in the film industry. At a press conference following a New York Film Festival press screening of his 2007 film, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Lumet announced his intention to shoot all future projects on HD instead of film, and predicted that celluloid would be abandoned by most of the industry within five years. [1]

In the 2002 Sight and Sound Directors' poll, Lumet revealed his top-ten films: The Best Years of Our Lives, Fanny and Alexander, The Godfather, The Grapes of Wrath, Intolerance, The Passion of Joan of Arc, Ran, Roma, Singin' in the Rain, and 2001: A Space Odyssey.[2]

Lumet has been directing since 1953, earning his chops the same time television was, doing shows like Danger, I Remember Mama and You Are There. He would move on to direct about 200 teleplays for Playhouse 90, Studio One, and Kraft Television Theater—the “Golden Age of Television”--establishing himself as one of the most prolific and talented directors of the small screen, specializing in intimate, intense, character driven, social realist dramas. Directing in black and white on a low budget, he capitalized on close-ups and medium shots on constricted sets to forge an intense, intimate mise en scene which would become his visual signature, and which would serve him exquisitely well in his brilliant film career.

Directing small-scale also compelled Lumet to work closely with his actors exploiting rehearsals to prepare them for rapid production. Lumet, because of these factors, is often accused of working carelessly. Nonetheless he has garnered five Academy Award nominations for Best Director. Ethan Hawke, on a recent Charlie Rose show, cited Lumet as one of the few directors he has worked with who understands an actor’s process and language.

They portray Lumet protagonists whose passion and intensity threaten to devour them. They could be difficult, driven by an unyielding superego, like his Frank Serpico, whose incorruptibility and disgust with police practices unleashed a mayoral investigation into police corruption. Sometimes they are already devoured when we first meet them, as in Dog Day Afternoon where the Pacino character is, this time, a desperate man willing to rob a bank in broad daylight to get his ex-boyfriend a sex change operation.

The crime epic Prince of the City (1981) is to some Lumet’s masterpiece.

How criminal justice operates, not only in New York, has strongly influenced Lumet's films, in his many courtroom dramas but also in such diverse motion pictures as The Hill (1965) or The Offence (1973).)

Another of Lumet's signature storyline preoccupations presents itself in Before the Devil Knows Your Dead (2007): how children inadvertently or deliberately become burdened by the aspirations of their parents. From Lumet’s first masterpiece, his film adaptation of O’Neill’s "Long Day’s Journey Into Night" (1962) through Running on Empty (1988) and Family Business (1989) the wounds caused by family dysfunctions leave permanent scars for Lumet’s protagonists.

Dana Stevens, in her review for Slate of "Before the Devil Knows Your Dead," applauded the “claustrophobic suspense and deep compassion for its characters—abject, grasping everymen who truly believe they're only one act of violence away from everything they've ever wanted.”

Sidney Lumet has authored a book titled Making Movies which is highly regarded as an excellent introduction to the art and technique of movie-making. The book also gives an insider's account of the trials and tribulations a director has to undergo in the movie seeing the light of day.


In the second paragraph, there is a quotation: "writes TCM". But who or what is TCM? Strombomboli (talk) 21:33, 27 June 2009 (UTC)


I added an "Editorial" tag to the article because the lead section seems to present a few peoples' opinons as fact. The section clearly needs editing to make it fit with Wikipedia's Non-POV guidelines.


I reworded the lede and removed the POV quotes. But I have kept the quotes which are well-sustained and instrumental in forming a general notion of the subject.- Artoasis (talk) 05:36, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
The changes do improve the article. --Wikiwatcher1 (talk) 07:12, 16 March 2011 (UTC)

Quotes by others[edit]

These quotes are fairly random and can be construed as POV statements. I moved them here to the talk page, in case someone might want to rework them into the article. - Artoasis (talk) 05:50, 16 March 2011 (UTC)

Film author Joanna Rapf, completing her interviews with Lumet in 2006, wrote, "Still intensely energetic, youthful, and passionate about life, ... [he seeks out] 'real' people, and 'real' situations, and the stories he can tell about them, 'human, honest and occasionally illustrative of some major point about living."[3]

Quotes by others
  • "Would that there were more true heroes willing to stand up to the absurd received thinking in Hollywood regarding scripts, casting and storytelling." -- Craig Lucas (Screenwriter)
  • "What amazes me about Lumet is his enduring intellectual vigor. While most of the other lions of the '70s were taking paychecks for commercial flotsam in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Lumet was still making movies with social ambition: Prince of the City, The Verdict, Running on Empty, Q&A, Night Falls on Manhattan... he never stopped looking for stories about flaws in the human condition. Few have mastered the medium as well as Lumet, and here’s the best part: he ain’t done yet." -- Jack Mathews (Film critic, New York Daily News)
  • "Lumet has brought you so completely into the world and point-of-view of the main characters that you understand and accept it all. He's one of the few directors who can blur the line between the everyday insanity we encounter and the over-the-top possibilities of drama, showing that there's not always a difference. Gregg Goldstein (Journalist, The Hollywood Reporter)
  • "Though he’s made films in Europe and Hollywood, Sidney Lumet is the heart and soul of New York City filmmaking. ... I greatly respect that he’s almost always made movies for audiences, not for the critics. Lou Lumenick (Chief film critic, New York Post)
  • "... I doubt that anyone else will soon supplant him. He is the master of cinematic pressure-cooking; in 12 Angry Men, Failsafe, The Hill, Murder on the Orient Express, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, Equus, and on and on, he takes his characters hostage, placing a group of particular people under duress in a confined space as the clock ticks—always with a surprisingly cathartic result. And the man is still working. Amazing! Lee, TheReeler - NY City Cinema

Clarity of the opening paragraph[edit]

As it currently reads: Sidney Lumet ( /luːˈmɛt/ loo-MET; June 25, 1924 – April 9, 2011) was an American director, producer and screenwriter with over 50 films to his name, including 12 Angry Men (1957), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Network (1976) and The Verdict (1982), all of which earned him Academy Award nominations for Best Director.

My problem with this is the very last clause which makes it seem as though all of his films, not just the four listed, led to Academy Award nominations. I'm pretty sure that's not the case though a fact check on this would be great. Otherwise we can possibly rephrase it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:13, 10 April 2011 (UTC)

Images marked for deletion[edit]

Notice that two relevant images are marked for deletion. The rationale is that they do not "significantly increases reader understanding." If anyone wishes to comment, you can do so here. --Wikiwatcher1 (talk) 21:39, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

  • Encouraging people to voice their concerns if they agree with you violates Wikipedia:Canvassing. Please be neutral in future comments such as this. --Hammersoft (talk) 22:53, 18 April 2011 (UTC)
Fixed--Wikiwatcher1 (talk) 23:29, 18 April 2011 (UTC)

File:Lumet-Life-1953.jpg Nominated for Deletion[edit]

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  1. ^ "NYFF: Sidney Lumet Joins The Death to Celluloid Brigade"
  2. ^ "BFI: How the directors and critics voted"
  3. ^ Cite error: The named reference Rapf was invoked but never defined (see the help page).