Saturday, April 9, 2011
Sidney Lumet (1924-2011)
The dean of American directors (I suppose Eastwood or Coppola inherits this title now) passed away today at the age of 86, ending a feature-film career that lasted a neat 50 years, from 1957's Twelve Angry Men to 2007's Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. Those are pretty impressive poles, and there are plenty of landmarks between them. His historic peak was the mid-1970s, when he rolled out Serpico, Murder on the Orient Express, Dog Day Afternoon and Network in quick succession. My own favorite among his films is 1964's Fail Safe, which is arguably Lumet's most impressive achievement in that his nuclear-war nightmare has lost none of its terrible power despite its proximity in time and theme to Dr. Strangelove. Ask me to pick a sleeper from Lumet's filmography and I'll name 1988's Q&A for Nick Nolte's mighty work as a corrupt cop pitted against a conflicted Timothy Hutton. But there's plenty to choose from besides what I've mentioned, and the news of Lumet's death is particularly sad because it still seemed that he was capable of more.