Sidney Lumet (June 25, 1924 – April 9, 2011), stage, television, and film director.

Sidney Lumet was one of the most prolific and acclaimed film directors in movie history. He was born in Philadelphia and studied acting at Columbia University. After military service in World War II, he returned to New York and became involved with the Actors’ Studio. As a result, he frequently cast “method” actors for his films. After starting as a director in off-Broadway and summer-stock productions, he became a director in the new medium of television. He directed over a hundred episodes of the show “Dragnet”. The shooting schedule and budget for TV forced him to develop an extremely efficient shooting style, which he retained when he transitioned to feature films. As a result, he was a very popular director  with the studios, because since he shot very quickly, his films came in on time and under budget. He was also very popular with actors, who respected his use of rehearsal before shooting a movie and for his strong, but collaborative, approach to directing.

Lumet made his first movie, 12 Angry Men, in 1957. It was a critical and box-office hit. Up until the last few years of his life, he averaged about a movie a year and made over 50 films, including Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Fail-Safe, Serpico, Murder On The Orient Express, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, Equus, The Wiz, Deathtrap, and The Verdict. He got to direct some of Hollywood’s best actors and actresses, including Henry Fonda, Marlon Brando, Katharine Hepburn, Paul Newman, Al Pacino, Ingrid Bergman, Albert Finney, Sean Connery, Lauren Bacall, Richard Burton, Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall, Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, and George C. Scott.

Lumet’s films often contained themes of social justice and  the weak fighting against corrupt institutions and systems. He preferred remaining in New York, rather than Hollywood, and many of his films were shot there, using the city itself as part of the story he was telling. Although his films were nominated for 46 Academy Awards, he never won the Best Director Oscar. However, we was given a Lifetime Achievement Oscar in 2005 to honor his vast and successful body of work. His most successful film, Network, won 4 Oscars out of 10 nominations and gave the world the memorable line: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” He died in New York from cancer at the age of 86.

“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.”

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