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Simon Bestwick (Simon_b)
Username: Simon_b

Registered: 10-2008
Posted From: 86.24.209.217
Posted on Saturday, April 09, 2011 - 11:49 pm:   

Passed away today from lymphona, aged 86; one of finest film directors the USA's ever produced.

Dog Day Afternoon. 12 Angry Men. The Hill. The Offence. The Deadly Affair. Serpico. Network. Running On Empty. Q&A.

The above list only scratches the surface of his long and prolific career, and I think most of us would be happy to create one piece of art as good as any of the above. I know I would.

Farewell to one of the true greats.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 2.24.1.184
Posted on Sunday, April 10, 2011 - 12:58 am:   

A sad loss indeed, though 86 is a great age.

Running on Empty is my favourite film, and one that gains in power on successive viewings as well having an added poignancy in the aftermath of the death of River Phoenix. But every performance in it, from Judd Hirsch as Danny's dignified but tormented father to Martha Plimpton as his sharp but idealistic girlfriend, is superb, and the use of James Taylor's 'Fire and Rain' takes my breath away every time.

I hate to be pedantic, Simon, but I think the word is 'lymphoma' not 'lymphona'. You're forgiven though.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.4.19.77
Posted on Sunday, April 10, 2011 - 02:06 am:   

Christ, no!! This is shocking news.

One of the GREAT (and greatly unrecognised) film directors of the last 60 years.

I'm only in from a night on the rip but expect a list of my Top 20 Sidney Lumet movies tomorrow, folks... the man was a fecking genius!!!!
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Simon Bestwick (Simon_b)
Username: Simon_b

Registered: 10-2008
Posted From: 86.24.209.217
Posted on Sunday, April 10, 2011 - 08:22 am:   

For once, Stevie, there's no hyperbole in that description

Joel- yes, Running On Empty is superb. I can't think offhand of any bad films by Lumet- nothing of his I've seen has ever been less than interesting. Politically and socially aware, but also narratively compelling and with performances of real depth and richness.

You're absolutely right, btw- it is lymphona. Ach... four hours' sleep, eight hours at work and then three hours of rehearsal will do that to me. Whibble.
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Simon Bestwick (Simon_b)
Username: Simon_b

Registered: 10-2008
Posted From: 86.24.209.217
Posted on Sunday, April 10, 2011 - 08:23 am:   

Lymphoma, I mean!! Egad. Go back to sleep, Simon.}
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Frank (Frank)
Username: Frank

Registered: 09-2008
Posted From: 85.222.86.21
Posted on Sunday, April 10, 2011 - 12:37 pm:   

I just saw this on your FB page, Simon. I have to say he produced some of the most thoughtful, exciting, genuinely involving, films of his or any other generation. He is often overlooked, yet his films are constantly brought up time and time again in discussions on the top 100 films of the century. A true master of cinema.

His films are true examples of how cinema can work to educate as well as entertain. His characters and story's, not to mention the genius of his directing, put him at the top, alongside the other greats. BUT, I really do think he's unfairly overlooked.

Prince of the City is one of my favourites of his. Unbearably tense because it invests so much Treat Williams character.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.4.19.77
Posted on Sunday, April 10, 2011 - 03:57 pm:   

This is a purely personal choice of my Top 20 films directed by Sidney Lumet. If ever a film director could be described as one of "the great and the good" it was this guy:

1. Network (1976) - the greatest film ever made about the manipulative power of the media and one of the most blistering satires in the annals of cinema.
2. Serpico (1973) - another of the great movies of the 70s with Pacino in career best form. Cop thrillers don't come any more visceral or controversial.
3. Dog Day Afternoon (1975) - one of the greatest heist movies ever made with a cumulative emotional power that is quite devastating. Pacino & Cazale have never been better and the ending floors me every time!
4. Twelve Angry Men (1957) - the definitive courtroom drama as well as having the finest ensemble cast of great actors ever gathered in one room. To watch the first five minutes is to be hooked by a master at work - every time.
5. The Offence (1973) - devastatingly brilliant "descent into madness" psychological thriller with Sean Connery giving the performance of his career. This movie terrified me as a child and continues to haunt me to this day. Awesome acting!!
6. The Pawnbroker (1964) - more powerhouse acting and another career best performance by the great Rod Steiger. A punishing psychological drama that remains one of the very finest films ever made about the Nazi holocaust and its far reaching aftermath.
7. Fail Safe (1964) - his one sci-fi movie and one of the best of its decade that was unfortunately overshadowed by Kubrick's 'Dr Strangelove'. The reality of encroaching nuclear holocaust has never been more convincingly portrayed and Henry Fonda gives one of his most affecting performances as the damned US President with his finger on the button.
8. Prince Of The City (1981) - spellbinding broadening out of the same themes of police corruption he tackled as a thriller in 'Serpico' that works here as epic and completely engrossing character drama and gave Treat Williams the role of his life.
9. Long Day's Journey Into Night (1962) - second only to 'Twelve Angry Men' as his finest acted ensemble character drama. The acting on display is mesmerisingly powerful as it details the downward spiral of a group of washed up despairing no-hopers who cling to each other as their only tenuous hold on life. Bleak and beautiful!
10. Child's Play (1972) - his one horror film and one of the most criminally underrated of the 70s imo. One hesitates to describe it as an "evil children" horror as the level of ambiguity leaves the kids as much open to victim status. You want sinister goings on at a creepy boys boarding school, with the new master getting way in over his head, you got it here in spades! Superior to the very similar 'Unman, Wittering And Zigo' (1971).
11. Before The Devil Knows You're Dead (2007) - storming return to form and a great way for him to have signed off this is one of the finest and most gripping crime thrillers of the last decade with fantastic acting from another ensemble cast to die for.
12. The Anderson Tapes (1971) - another brilliant heist movie, again with a difference, and gave Connery another of his meatiest roles of the 70s. A crackling thriller that entertains from first second to last and forever keeps the viewer on their toes.
13. Running On Empty (1988) - the film that River Phoenix should most be remembered for this is an emotionally powerful family drama about committment to one's ideals and the terrible sacrifices this can entail. What comes first? One's own dreams and independence or the happiness and expectations of one's family? That age old question has never been better explored on screen.
14. Q & A (1990) - a return to police corruption as riveting crime thriller and one of his most underrated films that gave Nick Nolte the performance of his career (how actors must have loved Sidney Lumet).
15. The Deadly Affair (1967) - perhaps the greatest serious spy thriller of the 60s and another unfairly neglected gem that has James Mason in brilliant form in an all too rare starring role.
16. The Hill (1965) - the film that proved Sean Connery could act and one of those weirdly fascinating allegorical war dramas that says more about men in combat than any dozen action flicks. It works as gruelling prison drama and razor edged satire of the military mind and bears comparison to Kubrick's 'Full Metal Jacket' imo.
16. Night Falls On Manhattan (1997) - the most seriously underrated of his more recent thrillers and another return to his much loved theme of police corruption, this time presented as a legal thriller, with Andy Garcia in career best form (he did it again).
17. Murder On The Orient Express (1974) - the definitive treatment of Agatha Christie's great Belgian detective on screen and the most thoroughly entertaining all-star whodunnit ever filmed. After this all other adaptations pale into tiresome mediocrity.
18. Equus (1977) - highly disturbing and oddly haunting psychological drama with Richard Burton in one of the greatest performances of his later career and Peter Firth utterly spellbinding as the young boy driven to mutilate horses.
20. The Verdict (1982) - the last truly great Paul Newman vehicle in which he played against type as a shifty alcoholic lawyer given one last chance at redemption. We've seen this type of legal thriller done to death since (most recently in 'The Lincoln Lawyer') but this was the definitive treatment of the theme and the film they really should have given Newman the Oscar for.

And that didn't leave room for; 'Stage Struck' (1957), 'That Kind Of Woman' (1959), 'The Fugitive Kind' (1960), 'A View From The Bridge' (1962), 'The Group' (1966), 'Bye Bye Braverman' (1968), 'The Sea Gull' (1968), 'The Appointment' (1969), 'The Last Of The Mobile Hotshots' (1969), 'Lovin' Molly' (1974), 'The Wiz' (1978), 'Just Tell Me What You Want' (1980), 'Deathtrap' (1982), 'Daniel' (1983), 'Garbo Talks' (1984), 'Power' (1986), 'The Morning After' (1986), 'Family Business' (1989), 'A Stranger Among Us' (1992), 'Guilty As Sin' (1993), 'Critical Care' (1997), 'Gloria' (1999) or 'Find Me Guilty' (2006).

Even his minor efforts and rare mis-steps (such as 'The Wiz' or 'Gloria') remain nothing less than perfectly watchable entertainment. But at his best no one could touch Lumet as a true master of the art of film directing. To think he was considered "workmanlike" in the 60s & 70s just goes to show what an embarrassment of cinematic riches abounded in those times...
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 99.126.164.88
Posted on Sunday, April 10, 2011 - 07:25 pm:   

From the films I've seen, I'd top-five personal-fave rate them...

1) MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS
2) THE VERDICT
3) RUNNING ON EMPTY
4) NETWORK
5) Q&A

Side note: I found THE MORNING AFTER a very watchable very-lousy film; you got two giants leading, Jeff Bridges and Jane Fonda, and a great hook... too bad it couldn't have been better....
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Monday, April 11, 2011 - 04:34 pm:   

In case you were wondering the Sidney Lumet films I haven't seen are:

Stage Struck,
That Kind Of Woman,
A View From The Bridge,
The Sea Gull,
The Last Of The Mobile Hotshots,
Lovin' Molly,
Daniel,
Garbo Talks,
A Stranger Among Us &
Find Me Guilty.

So that Top 20 is almost bound to change...

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