Sidney Lumet – 1924-2011

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One of my favourite directors of all time sadly passed away yesterday at the age of 86. Sidney Lumet was a filmmaker whose genius extended to all facets of the filmmaking process. Across a career that spanned over half a century he made enough classic films for ten lifetimes, not just one. His most famous works include Dog Day Afternoon, The Verdict, Network, and Serpico. Most recently the director made the well-received Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead, which turns out to be his final feature film.

Personally, I’ll always remember him for making one of my favourite films – 12 Angry Men. This brilliant movie highlights the director’s wonderful skill at characterisation and drama. The entire film takes place in one room – Lumet’s skill is in making 12 characters sat around a table talking as exciting and enthralling as any film with a hundred locations and action set-pieces. The film will eventually appear in many top ten lists on this site but for now it sits at the top of two – Top 10 Single Location Films and Top 10 Films set in a day.

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About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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    Rodney Reply

    He truly was a legend. I was looking over his filmography whilst writing my own obit for him, and was just staggered with how many quality films he produced, and how many superstar Hollywood folks he worked with… Sad news indeed. He will be missed.

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    Jaccstev Reply

    RIP to one of the true greats. I haven’t seen as many of his films as i probably should have. Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon are both fantastic films.

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    Dan Reply

    @Jaccstev: If you haven’t seen it already check out The Verdict. And of course, my favourite film by him is 12 Angry Men.

    As you say, Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon are great!

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    Fitz Reply

    I need to see The Verdict like yesterday.

    Peter Travers rarely skimps on words, but I liked his tweet regarding Lumet’s passing, “An incalculable loss to film.”

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    Andrew Reply

    For all of the great films Lumet has contributed over his life, I think my favorite Lumet work is his book, Making Movies, which to date remains one of the best books I’ve ever read about the filmmaking process from abstracting and conception to production to releasing the damn thing. Lumet had so much info and experience to share and he seems to have included all of it in his book. Check it out if you haven’t already.

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