The American director Sidney Lumet has died at home in Manhattan at the age of eighty six.
Over a five decade career, he made dozens of films. Best known for intense dramas, often set in his home city, Sidney Lumet’s debut feature was the 1957 classic court drama 12 Angry Men.
The 1970s were a particularly fruitful period, during which his films included The Anderson Tapes, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon and Network, which won Peter Falk a posthumous Oscar for playing the TV news anchor, having a breakdown, who urged viewers to go to the window and shout out “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”
Lumet himself was nominated for four directing Oscars – including for 12 Angry Men and Network – as well as one for adapting the screenplay for Prince of the City – but the only time he collected the prestigious statuette was in the form of an honorary Oscar in 2005.
Having trained as an actor, he elicited memorable performances from a string of leading stars, including Al Pacino, Sean Connery and Paul Newman.
He eschewed flashy directing techniques in favour of strong, deliberate story-telling.
Lumet continued to work well into his eighties, garnering positive reviews for his final film, the powerful and dramatic action thriller Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.
Fellow director Woody Allen said Lumet was “definitely the quintessential NY film-maker.”
Another New York director Martin Scorsese said he had “a unique gift with actors, an unusually dynamic feeling for drama and a powerful sense of place.”
Al Pacino said “Sidney Lumet leaves a great legacy, but more than that, to the people close to him, he will remain the most civilised of humans and the kindest man I have ever known.”