Sidney Lumet Director
Sidney Lumet born on June 25, 1924) was an American director,
producer and screenwriter Lumet was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His parents, Baruch Lumet and Eugenia Wermus,
were both veteran players of the “Yiddish” stage. His father was an actor,
director, producer and writer, while his mother was a dancer. His mother died
when he was still a child. Lumet made his professional debut on radio at age
four and stage debut at the Yiddish Art Theatre at five. As a child he also
appeared in many Broadway plays, including 1935’s Dead End and Kurt Weill’s The
Eternal Road. In 1935 at age 11, Lumet appeared in a Henry Lynn short film, Papirossen (meaning
“Cigarettes” in Yiddish) co-produced by radio star Herman Yablokoff. The play and short film appeared in the Bronx
McKinley Square Theatre. In 1939 he made his only feature-length film appearance,
at age of 15. He spent three years with the US army. After returning from World
War II service (1942–1946) as a radar repairman stationed in India and Burma,
he became involved with the Actors Studio, and then formed his own theatre
workshop. He organized an Off-Broadway group and became its director, and
continued directing in summer stock theatre, while teaching acting at the High
School of Performing Arts.
Lumet was married four times; the first three ended in
divorce. He was married to actress Rita Gam from 1949–1955, to socialite Gloria
Vanderbilt from 1956–1963, to Gail Jones (daughter of Lena Horne) from 1963–1978,
and to Mary Gimbel from 1980 until his death. He had two daughters by Jones:
Amy, who was married to P. J. O’Rourke from 1990–1993, and actress/screenwriter
Jenny who had a leading role in his film Q & A. She also wrote the
screenplay for the 2008 film Rachel Getting Married.
The New York native was also known to capture memorable
sometime electrifying performances from his actors. Highly dialogue driven
films, with a lot of speeches and dramatic verbal duels. Lumet 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
Known for his technical knowledge and his skill at getting
first-rate performances from his actors 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. Lumet has made
over 40 movies, often emotional, but rarely overly sentimental. He often tells
intelligent, complex stories.
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 gritty and intense although being seen as a
moralist and a maker of social films, Lumet cannot not be so easily pinned down.
He didn’t use flashy effects he
didn’t have to because the style was in the substance
The cop thriller Serpico (1973), the first of his films about
police corruption in New York City, featured a fascinating Al Pacino and was
the beginning of the most successful phase of Lumet’s career. Pacino won the
Golden Globe, and the picture earned two Oscar nominations. His leading characters
tend to be isolated, unexceptional men who oppose a group or institution.
Whether the protagonist is a member of a jury or party to a bungled robbery, he
follows his instincts and intuition in an effort to find solutions.
Most of his films were shot in New York, and almost none of
them were shot in Hollywood 50 films. He was nominated for the Academy Award as
Best Director for 12 Angry Men (1957), Dog Day Afternoon (1975) edited By (Dede
Allen), Network (1976) and The Verdict (1982). He did not win an individual
Academy Award, although he did receive an Academy Honorary Award and 14 of his
films were nominated for various Oscars, such as Network, which was nominated
for 10, winning 4.
Perhaps the most important is something he himself said.
“Good style, to me, is unseen style. It is style that is felt.” His body of
work speaks for itself and is a part of history Lumet continued to direct Lumet
died until his death aged 86 on April 9, 2011 in his residence in Manhattan,
New York from lymphoma. He is survived by this wife and two children.
Lumet once said: ‘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.’
His influence in the movie industry was legendary and
continues to inspire directors of film today and his presence will be sadly missed.