Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sidney Lumet

Another great film director has died. Two years ago, in my post The Greatest Living American Film Director, I said of him that "[Martin] Scorsese will always be the second best American film director as long as Sidney Lumet is alive and kicking." Scorsese can now take the laurels.

Sidney Lumet (1924-2011) directed more than fifty films in a career that lasted for than fifty years. 12 Angry Men, The Pawnbroker, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Prince of the City, The Verdict, Q & A, the list of his triumphs is long and impressive. He seemed drawn to subjects dealing with cops. He once said, "I've known a lot of cops, most of whom join the force with a good deal of idealism. They wind up with the highest suicide and alcoholism rates of any profession." The Departed, which won a ton of awards for Martin Scorsese, was a film Lumet should've made, if only it had been set in New York.

In 2007, Lumet talked to New York magazine about the future of New York films: "Well, we were shooting out in Astoria, and one day I was watching all these kids standing outside a school near the studio. It was just marvelous: Indian girls in saris, kids from Pakistan, Korea, kids from all over. So I think you'll see more directors from these communities, telling their stories. You know, I started out making films about Jews and Italians and Irish because I didn't know anything else."

Living here very far from home, I'm reaching the age when people I knew when I was young are getting on in years. When people I admire above all the others die, particularly fellow Americans, I feel like Hadad:

And when Hadad heard in Egypt that David slept with his fathers, and that Joab the captain of the host was dead, Hadad said to Pharaoh, Let me depart, that I may go to mine own country.

Then Pharaoh said unto him, But what hast thou lacked with me, that, behold, thou seekest to go to thine own country? And he answered, Nothing. howbeit let me go in any wise.
(I Kings, 11:21-22)

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