Here is a quick and criminally short tribute to the late and great director Sidney Lumet, who died of lymphoma in Manhattan on Saturday, age 86. In a career that spanned more than five decades, Lumet directed more than 40 feature films, which collectively generated more than 50 Oscar nominations.
Of those films two are personal favourites of mine: 1957’s unforgettable 12 Angry Men, starring Henry Fonda as a good-hearted juror who convinces 11 tetchy men to transcend racism and bigotry, and 1975’s Dog Day Afternoon, based on the true story of Sonny Wortzik, a bank robber who generated a media circus and lapped up every moment. Starring Al Pacino, Dog Day Afternoon remains – in this reviewer’s humble opinion – the best bank robbery movie ever made.
Lumet’s other films include Network (1976) aka “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore” and Serpico (1973), featuring another memorable performance from Pacino, in this instance as an undercover cop. Lumet’s last feature was 2007’s Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, a very well directed non-linear heist movie starring Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
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