"...the main purpose of criticism...is not to make its readers agree, nice as that is, but to make them, by whatever orthodox or unorthodox method, think." - John Simon

"The great enemy of clear language is insincerity." - George Orwell

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sidney Lumet (1924 - 2011)

“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.”

Legendary filmmaker Sidney Lumet has passed away. The man's cinematic legacy speaks for itself with classics like Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, Prince of the City, and so many others. My favorite films of his were the ones he dealt with police and political corruption in New York City - Serpico, Prince of the City and Night Falls on Manhattan. No doubt the tributes will come pouring in over the next few days. Here are a few:

The New York Times
Los Angeles Times
The Guardian
DGA Quarterly
Rolling Stone
Entertainment Weekly

I also took a look at two of his films - the underrated Q & A and Running on Empty.

My Top 5 Favorite Lumet films:


Running on Empty


Dog Day Afternoon

The Offence


  1. What a great legend! It's sad to see him go, but the legacy he will be leaving behind is absolutely enormous I must say.

  2. Hi J.D.,

    Just heard the news and saw your post. A truly sad day for cinema lovers.

    Lumet's Dog Day Afternoon is one of my favorite films, but like you said, he made so many great movies, from Serpico to Network.

    So much of what Lumet achieved has become part of our collective filmgoing lexicon these days. If I had a nickel for every article that references the famous Network diatribe (I'm mad as hell...etc.), I'd probably be a rich man.

    Thank you for remembering this legend on the day of his passing.


  3. He was a wonderful talent, from "Twelve Angry Men" all the way up to "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead." So many wonderful, intelligent films, he'll be missed greatly.

  4. Fine tribute to an extraordinary filmmaker, J.D. So many great films to cherish now that he's left this mortal coil. While many of them used NYC as its own distinct character, he could produce great content without it (like THE VERDICT). He could even produce great and thrilling novel adaptations, see FAIL SAFE. As Brent said, "he'll be greatly missed."

  5. Some directors are a director’s director. Sidney Lumet was a true classic director. A great man. He will be greatly missed. His family have our best wishes and prayers.

  6. A great loss, even if Lumet had a good run. One of the finest American director of the past several decades, I particularly loved:

    The Pawnbroker
    12 Angry Men
    Dog Day Afternoon

    He worked with some of the greatest actors and writers and his direction brought these two elements together to create some stunning films. He also preferred NYC's realism shoots to Hollywood.


  7. Dan O.:

    You are right on the money. Lumet leaves behind a fantastic filmography sprinkled throughout with some great ones to be sure.

    John Kenneth Muir:

    Thanks for stopping by. And yes, a sad day for cinema.

    I also really love DOG DAY AFTERNOON and would have a tough time narrowing down my fave Lumet film. So many to choose from!

    As you say, his films have become part of the lexicon. Not to mention TV shows like LAW & ORDER owe a HUGE debt to Lumet.


    Thanks also for stopping by. I couldn't agree more with your sentiments.


    Thank you! I also enjoyed your tribute. Nice to see a lot of love for Lumet and his films. Good call on THE VERDICT. I really enjoyed that film. Lumet's direction coupled with David Mamet's script and Paul Newman's incredible performance resulted in one helluva film.

    Atlanta Roofing:

    Thanks for your heartfelt sentiments.

    Sam Juliano:

    As always, thanks for stopping by. I like your list of Lumet fave films. Right there with ya re: NETWORK and DOG DAY AFTERNOON.

  8. Well, I keep switching between THE PAWNBROKER and NETWORK as my favorite Lumet film. So I will leave it at that and continue from there with...

    12 Angry Men
    Dog Day Afternoon

  9. John:

    Nice list. SERPICO is such a great film. I love pulling out NETWORK and watching it once a year.