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Sidney Lumet is awesome!


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Just wanted to say I've had the pleasure of seeing 3 Lumet films for the first time the past few weeks( 2 this weekend ) : 12 Angry Men, Long Days Journey into Night, and Fail-Safe. I love his style of directing, it's riveting! Was wondering what other films he's done so I can be on the lookout.

 

Brad

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> Just wanted to say I've had the pleasure of seeing 3

> Lumet films for the first time the past few weeks( 2

> this weekend ) : 12 Angry Men, Long Days Journey into

> Night, and Fail-Safe. I love his style of directing,

> it's riveting! Was wondering what other films he's

> done so I can be on the lookout.

>

> Brad

 

The Verdict,starring Paul Newman, and the late great Jack Warden. About a broken down Irish Catholic lawyer (Newman ) that now has the case of the year against the Archdiocese of Boston.

 

Q & A a superior modern day noir concering the interaction of the Jews, Irish, Italians, Blacks, and Puerto Ricans inside and out of the NYPD> Nick Nolte gives the performance of a lifetime as a bigoted Irish cop. Warning BAD language and is ( at times ) very violent .

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I would also add "The Pawnbroker" [a personal favourite], "Serpico" and "Dog Day Afternoon".

 

Just remembered another..."The Hill" [1965], one of the great unknown war films, with Sean Connery, Harry Andrews, Ian Bannen and Ossie Davis. It has been shown on TCM recently and, I hope, will be again.

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I appreciate "Fail Safe" more every time I see it. I think the style and performances are just about perfect, vis-a-vis the subject matter. Unfortunately, it has a relevance today it might not have had a few years ago. I agree that Hagman is quite good, and Fonda is outstanding. How seemingly effortless his characterization is. Matthau was pretty amazing, too.

 

I also like it because each time I see it I appreciate "Dr. Strangelove" more as well.

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The Matthau character is based on Herman Kahn, a consultant to the U.S. Government, via the Rand Corp. He authored a book.."Thinking the Unthinkable", in regard to thermonuclear War. Verrryyy scarryyy kiddies!

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For me "Network" is Lumet's best.>>

 

Network is a wonderful film that foreshadowed today's culture and media almost thirty years earlier. I always think of it as Paddy's film as he wrote the original screenplay.

 

When they talk about how significant, really, is the screenwriter in the filmmaking process this is the film that always comes to mind first.

 

I like to think at the big bar in heaven, Paddy C never has to buy a drink. Every day he shows up and everyday drinks are bought for him by those that have just arrived and say "How the hell did you know?".

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Dog Day Afternoon is one of my favorite Sidney Lumet. I also feel fortunate that he's still working. This year he released the interesting Find Me Guilty, which thematically tied in with his Twelve Angry Men from years ago. Now he's filming Before the Devil Knows You're Dead with a great cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Albert Finney, Marisa Tomei, and Rosemary Harris. I remember being properly depressed after seeing The Pawnbroker in an "Existentialism in Film" class (ah, school daze...).

 

On my need to see list: Long Days Journey Into Night and Equus.

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The Matthau character is based on Herman Kahn, a consultant to the U.S. Government, via the Rand Corp. He authored a book.."Thinking the Unthinkable", in regard to thermonuclear War. Verrryyy scarryyy kiddies!

 

Several years before FAIL SAFE was made, Kahn resigned from Rand and formed the Hudson Institute, a rival "think-tank" in Croton-on-Hudson, NY (which moved to Indianapolis follwing Kahn's death in 1984, and then to Washington, D.C. [with some offices in New York City] in 2001).

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By the way, I'm still wondering why TCM ran its lead-in for "The Sunny Side of Life" in its customary spot, and then ran "Fail Safe." Asleep at the switch on a Sunday morning? Or perhaps a Strangeloveian joke?

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Lol, jdb1. A big "oops" on the part of TCM for that one.

 

One of the interesting things about Sidney Lumet is the way in which he tackles different genres and gives them his own particular spin--and rarely seems to bother with whether or not something's just not commercial enough. Other Lumet films that are worth a look:

Prince of the City(1981) which may be his finest and most complex fact-based film about corruption and loyalty on the NY police force. Features good performances from Treat Williams and especially, the late Jerry Orbach. A nice companion piece to Q&A.

 

In addition to The Hill, some of Lumet's other work with Sean Connery is well worth a look. The Anderson Tapes(1971) is an entertaining caper flick with a few serious points to make and a very interesting early performance by Christopher Walken. The Offence(1972), which is probably Connery's best work on film, imo, is searing in its depiction of the corrosive effect of police work on its practitioners. I'd also recommend Murder on the Orient Express(1974), if just for stylish, glossy entertainment and the star power it offers via Connery and companions.

 

Another entertaining film with some good ensemble acting and a few serious points about allegedly privileged, college educated women in America, comes from Lumet via novelist Mary McCarthy in The Group(1966). Early work by Candice Bergen can be seen here, though the luminous Joan Hackett, Elizabeth Hartman, and Shirley Knight touched me more when I saw it years ago.

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> Another entertaining film with some good ensemble

> acting and a few serious points about allegedly

> privileged, college educated women in America, comes

> from Lumet via novelist Mary McCarthy in The

> Group(1966). Early work by Candice

> Bergen can be seen here, though the luminous

> Joan Hackett, Elizabeth Hartman,

> and Shirley Knight touched me more when I saw

> it years ago.

 

Thanks for reminding us about "The Group," Moira. I'd forgotten that it was a Lumet film. It would be VERY interesting to see that one again, in light of history/feminist movement, etc. And luminous is certainly an apt descriptive for Joan Hackett - she was one of my very favorites when I was younger, and I recall her being especially good in this film.

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Jdb1,

It's nice to see that the too brief life and career of Joan Hackett is appreciated. Sidney Lumet brought out something in her screen performance in The Group(1966) that was unique and striking. One could almost say that, had she been born in an earlier time, she might've had some roles that Margaret Sullavan would've done. They seem to have a similar steel beneath a gossamer sheen. I'm very fond of Hackett's performance in a little Western called Will Penny(1968) too---which also features the best acting by Charlton Heston in his entire epic-making career, bar none.

 

Of her television work, I remember a made-for-tv movie that was very well acted by Hackett and James Garner, called The Long Summer of George Adams (1982). He played a displaced railroad worker and she was his wife. I believe that it was set in the Depression era. Has anyone else seen this?

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Mr. Lumet is indeed a fine filmmaker.

Whenever I get the chance I watch "Dog Day Afternoon", "The Verdict", and "Running on Empty".

My two very favorites are "Prince of the City" and "A View from the Bridge" (1961) with Maureen Stapleton. It is a movie that is difficult to get hold of.

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> Jdb1,

> It's nice to see that the too brief life and career

> of Joan Hackett is appreciated. Sidney Lumet

> brought out something in her screen performance in

> The Group(1966) that was unique and striking.

> One could almost say that, had she been born in an

> earlier time, she might've had some roles that

> Margaret Sullavan would've done. They seem to have a

> similar steel beneath a gossamer sheen. I'm very fond

> of Hackett's performance in a little Western called

> Will Penny(1968) too---which also features the

> best acting by Charlton Heston in his entire

> epic-making career, bar none.

>

> Of her television work, I remember a made-for-tv

> movie that was very well acted by Hackett and

> James Garner, called The Long Summer of

> George Adams (1982). He played a displaced

> railroad worker and she was his wife. I believe that

> it was set in the Depression era. Has anyone else

> seen this?

 

That is a very good point, Pilgrim -- I hadn't thought about it, but I think you are right. I can see Hackett in Sullavan's parts. She also had that bit of quirkiness that Sullavan brought to her comedic roles. She was very ladylike and elegant, and look how natural and funny, and physical, she was in "Support Your Local Sheriff." I don't remember the "George Adams" movie, but it's likely I did see it.

 

I was so saddened when Hackett passed away, so young. I think she was underutilized and underappreciated. Speaking of quirky - You know about her gravestone, don't you?

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I don't think it's any coincidence that Lumet's films are so consistently well acted. He did great work with stars (Al Pacino, Paul Newman, Henry Fonda) and supporting players (Jack Warden, Larry Hagman, Ned Beatty). The lifetime Oscar that he received last year was long overdue.

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Mark,

It's interesting to me that you mentioned the quality of the acting in Lumet's films. He seems to draw the finest out of his players, whether, as has been mentioned, Rod Steiger in The Pawnbroker, Sean Connery in the films that I mentioned earlier, or Jack Warden in 12 Angry Men. I've never seen the Inside the Actor's Studio interview w/ Sidney Lumet in its entirety. I wonder if his way with actors was discussed much?

 

Jdb1,

What about Joan Hackett's tombstone?

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Hey, since TCM is doing Summer under the Stars, how about a day devoted to Lumet films sometime. Judging from the responses so far, there would be a lot of support for that. And please, let it be a weekend day, so I can be glued to the set all day :-) Has TCM ever devoted a day to a particular director before?

 

Brad

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> By the way, I'm still wondering why TCM ran its

> lead-in for "The Sunny Side of Life" in its customary

> spot, and then ran "Fail Safe." Asleep at the switch

> on a Sunday morning? Or perhaps a Strangeloveian

> joke?

 

I didn't even notice that! That is so funny.

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"Has TCM ever devoted a day to a particular director before?"

 

I'm still pretty new here, but it's been my sense that they don't have "director days", but rather will devote a month to a particular director. So maybe there's a Lumet Month in your future...

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I have to agree with you..."Network" was way ahead of it's time...and I admire it most for Paddy Chayefsky's screenplay (same goes with "The Hospital.") He was a masterful magician at mixing genres-social/political satire, black comedy, raw human drama...I also admire "Network" for the acting. Not that an Oscar signifies much, but I'm glad Chayefsky, Finch, Dunaway and Straight won...I'm still **** off that this brilliant movie lost best picture to..."Rocky!"

"All human beings are becoming humanoids. All over the world, not just in America. We're just getting there faster since we're the most advanced country."

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