Veteran director Sidney Lumet died on April 9th at age 86 from lymphoma. Though he may have passed on, he remains ever present through his beloved body of work in film. From his 1957 feature length debut of “12 Angry Men” to his final film, the 2007 “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”, Lumet’s illustrious fifty year career has earned him great acclaim, with the likes of IMDB referring to him as a “master of cinema.” With the help of Netflix Instant, keep Lumet’s work alive by watching some of these choice titles from this renown director.
Network: This 1976 drama follows Howard Beale (Peter Finch) as a raving news anchor who is exploited by the network after an on air suicide announcement. The film also stars William Holden as a news division president, Fay Dunaway as the head of the network’s programming department, as well as Robert Duvall, Battrice Straight, Wesley Addy, Ned Beatty, and several others. The film was written by Paddy Chayefsky, who took home an Academy Award for the film. He also won Academy awards for writing “Marty” and “The Hospital.” “Network” also brandished awards for Best Actor with Peter Finch, Best Actress with Fay Dunaway, and Best Supporting Actress with Battrice Straight. It was nominated for six other awards including Best Director and Best Picture.
The Verdict: Twenty-five years after “12 Angry Men” Lumet returns to the courtroom with 1982’s “The Verdict”. The film is a remake of a 1946 film of the same name. Frank Galvin (Paul Newman) is a lawyer who has seen better days, but is now an alcoholic on a losing streak with his cases. What seems like an open-and-shut case turns out to be more when Galvin enters a malpractice suit over the life of a woman in a coma. Newman was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, along with co-star James Mason who was won Best Supporting Actor for portraying the opposing lawyer.
Running on Empty: After years of being on the run, the fugitive family of Arthur and Annie (Judd Hirsch and Christine Lahti) find their young son Danny (River Phoenix) has grown tired of their nomadic lifestyle. Upon release, Roger Ebert gave the film four out of four stars and called it “one of the best films of the year.” Naomi Foner was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards and River Phoenix was nominated for Best Supporting Actor a age 18.
Dog Day Afternoon: Sonny (Al Pacino) and Sal (John Cazale) picked the wrong day to rob a bank. After things continuously go wrong, the two find themselves holding up hostages in the bank with the police outside. The worst part is that Sonny is only doing it to pay for his lover’s operation and the vault only has $1100 inside. Screenwriter Frank Pierson won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay, and the film was nominated for five other Oscars and seven Golden Globes.
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead: Listed as one of the American Film Institute’s ten most influential American films of 2007, “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” is the last film in Lumet’s fifty year career. Two brothers (Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke) plan to rob their parent’s jewelry store. These actions set off a chain of events that put the two siblings in a worse situation than their original debts. Also staring Marisa Tomei and Albert Finney, “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” mostly went overlooked at the major awards but is no less a fitting book end for Lumet’s illustrious career.