Master of Hollywood thrillers dies at 86
The death of Sidney Lumet, the New York-based director of some of Hollywood's best- known thrillers, was announced yesterday.
Perhaps most widely regarded for his first film, '12 Angry Men', the filmmaker (86) had a career that spanned six decades and more than 50 works, including 'Network', 'The Verdict' and 'Dog Day Afternoon'.
Last night, Jonathan Romney, chief film critic of 'The Independent on Sunday', described Lumet, whose family said he suffered from lymphoma, as "the archetype of the classic Hollywood director" and "the gold standard of thriller makers".
He was also "the great male actor's director", who brought the best out in Marlon Brando, Paul Newman and Al Pacino, as well as influencing other filmmakers, including Martin Scorsese.
"He was an austere director, who just gave you the bare essentials," said Mr Romney. "Because he was such a proficient storyteller, it was easy to underrate his mastery."
Although Lumet won 33 prizes, and was nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards on four occasions, he never won an Oscar.
In 2005, the Academy presented him with an honorary lifetime achievement award.
In a subsequent interview he was asked how that felt, replying: "I wanted one, damn it, and I felt I deserved one."
Lumet's output peaked in the 1960s and 1970s, and includes 'The Anderson Tapes', 'The Hill' and 'The Offence', though he worked up to very recently, his last film, 'Before the Devil Knows You're Dead', coming out in 2007 and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Asked why he made films, Lumet said: "I do it because I like it. It's a wonderful way to spend your life." (© Independent News Service)