A 1982 courtroom drama film which tells the story of a down-on-his-luck alcoholic lawyer who pushes a medical malpractice case in order to improve his own situation, but discovers along the way that he is doing the right thing. Since the lawsuit involves a woman in a persistent vegetative state, the movie is cast in the shadow of the Karen Ann Quinlan case. The movie stars Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling, Jack Warden, James Mason, Milo O’Shea, and Lindsay Crouse.
Directed by Sidney Lumet, the film was adapted by David Mamet from the novel by Barry Reed and is not a remake of the 1946 film of the same name.
The Verdict garnered critical acclaim and box office success. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Actor in a Leading Role (Paul Newman), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (James Mason), Best Director (Sidney Lumet), Best Picture and Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (David Mamet). Continue reading Sidney Lumet – The Verdict [+Commentary] (1982)
“Network” will shake you up. Paddy Chayefsky’s absurdly plausible and outrageously provocative original script concerns media running amok. Faye Dunaway and William Holden, each in two of their finest performances, plus Peter Finch and Robert Duvall star in this superbly cast and handsomely produced Howard Gottfried production. Sidney Lumet’s direction is outstanding. The Metro picture, released by United Artists, is a potent commercial blend of artful tirade, visual excitement and sociological horror.
In terms of older films about the broadcast media, this is no soap opera film, like MGM’s long-ago “The Hucksters.” Nor is it low-key, intellectual drama like “A Face In the Crowd.” This is a bawdy, stops-out, no-holds-barred story of a TV network that will, quite literally, do anything to get an audience. The strangest thing about the film is that, while often preachy, hysterical, shrill and bizarre, it also makes a compelling statement from amidst its sound and fury. It’s a verbal and visual equivalent of a dozen top-40 radio stations blaring out at you in the same room. In short, it’s just mad. Continue reading Sidney Lumet – Network (1976)
Sidney Lumet directed this romantic melodrama involving deceit and marital secrets. The film takes place in Rome where lawyer Federico Fendi (Omar Sharif) falls in love with his colleague Renzo’s (Fausto Tozzi) fiancee Carla (Anouk Aimee). Renzo warns Federico that Carla is actually a high-priced call girl, but Federico refuses to believe it. Instead, Carla and Federico marry. After the wedding however, Federico notices that Carla has been making curious disappearances from her domestic home. Recalling Renzo’s warning, Federico begins the secretly follow her to find out the truth. Continue reading Sidney Lumet – The Appointment (1969)
Critically acclaimed Rod Steiger plays Sol Nazerman, a Jewish pawnbroker who survived imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp, even though his wife and family did not. The devastating experience and unrelenting memories inhibit Sol from emotional involvement with life. He has no faith in religion and less in mankind. Though he carries on an affair with a woman who was also a victim of the Nazi camps, it is without emotion and Sol grows increasingly bitter and callous, withdrawing still further from the world around him. As his small shop in Harlem is run with little care or attention, it becomes a convenient cover for a local racketeer. Finally, a caring social worker tries to appeal to his humanity, but Sol’s emotional wounds may prove to be too great to overcome. Continue reading Sidney Lumet – The Pawnbroker (1964)
New York cop Daniel Ciello is involved in some questionable police practices. He is approached by internal affairs and in exchange for him potentially being let off the hook, he is instructed to begin to expose the inner workings of police corruption. Danny agrees as long as he does not have to turn in his partners but he soon learns that he cannot trust anyone and he must decide whose side he is on and who is on his. Continue reading Sidney Lumet – Prince of the City (1981)
Poignant and poetic, The Fugitive Kind is a challenging film that works more often than it doesn’t. Based on Tennessee Williams’ Orpheus Descending—a play that had been critically panned and did little business in its original Broadway run—this adaptation boasts terrific performances, atmospheric direction by Sidney Lumet (The Verdict), and excellent cinematography by Boris Kaufman (On the Waterfront).
As with any Williams work, the film is loaded with subtext and imagery, much of it sexual—including Snakeskin’s beloved Guitar and Vee’s paintings, which are rife with Freudian symbols. For its time, The Fugitive Kind tackles sexuality with surprising frankness, its story of hustlers, nymphomaniacs, illicit relationships, and passions both ignited and unrequited presented straight, not watered down. Williams infuses this story with layers of meaning, and repeat viewings offer different experiences. Continue reading Sidney Lumet – The Fugitive Kind (1959)
I’d say they don’t make ’em like Dog Day Afternoon anymore, but, you know, they sure do try to. Bank robbers under fire, hostage negotiations, panic in the streets. Why, moviedom is littered with films like Heat, Mad City, The Negotiator… some good, some bad.
But modern cinema’s template for the bank-robbery-gone-wrong flick is this one. What we have is a hero in desperate need of money, an astute student of how banks operate, and a deep, dark secret that will help to ruin his plans. Media circus ensues. Continue reading Sidney Lumet – Dog Day Afternoon [+Extras] (1975)