Sidney Lumet – Network (1976)

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“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 – The Appointment (1969)

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synopsis

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 Verdict (1982)

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Summary: “Frank Galvin is a down-on-his luck lawyer, reduced to drinking and ambulance chasing. Former associate Mickey Morrissey reminds him of his obligations in a medical malpractice suit that he himself served to Galvin on a silver platter: all parties willing to settle out of court. Blundering his way through the preliminaries, he suddenly realizes that perhaps after all the case should go to court: to punish the guilty, to get a decent settlement for his clients, and to restore his standing as a lawyer.” (IMDb) Continue reading

Sidney Lumet – The Pawnbroker (1964)

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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 – Prince of the City (1981)

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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 – The Anderson Tapes (1971)

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Plot Synopsis by Hal Erickson

This breathlessly paced high-tech thriller stars Sean Connery as Anderson, a career criminal who’s just been released from his latest prison term. Seeking a quick financial turnover, Anderson uses mob funding to finance an ambitious robbery. With a gang of expert thieves, Anderson sets about to rob every wealthy tenant of a fancy East Side apartment building. What he doesn’t know is that every move he makes is being monitored and taped by several law-enforcement agencies, who hope that Anderson will lead them to the Mob kingpins. Though the film may look like a “comment” on the Watergate break-in, The Anderson Tapes actually preceded that third-rate burglary by nearly two years. The Anderson Tapes boasts an impressive supporting cast, many of whom play wildly against type, including Alan King as an aging and infirm Mafia don. Continue reading

Sidney Lumet – The Fugitive Kind (1959)

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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