Prince Of The Cinema

Paddy Chayefsky’s NETWORK is my favorite screenplay of all time and in my personal pantheon of Great Films. The fact that director Sidney Lumet understood that Chayefsky was the actual autuer and had no ego about his credit shows what kind of man Lumet was. He was that rare bird, a cinema stylist with naturalistic impulses. No director better captured the sleazy grit, heat and sweat of New York and her neighborhoods in such films as THE PAWNBROKER (1964) and DOG DAY AFTERNOON (1973). He could shift gears to the ultra-modern streamlined halls of power as in FAIL-SAFE (1963) and then to the verite battlefields of World War II in THE HILL (1965). Lumet made the leap from the forgotten college woman epic, THE GROUP (1966) to the opulent drawing rooms of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (1974). He loved actors, one of the reasons Sean Connery did five films for Lumet, including the jazzy hi-tech, THE ANDERSON TAPES (1971) and the little-seen THE OFFENSE (1972), featuring Connery as a blustery police officer and a 20 minute long debate. Lumet also loved a good ethical duel, so his work often highlights conflict and confrontation between opposing forces. He was one of the few directors from the 1950’s Golden Age of Television who managed to keep a successful film-making career all the way into his 80’s — his place in movie history is assured.

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2 Responses to “Prince Of The Cinema”

  1. “Attica! Attica! Attica!”

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