Saturday, April 09, 2011

Sidney Lumet Dies

I was sorry to hear that Sidney Lumet, the man who directed one of my all–time favorite movies, 1957's "12 Angry Men," died of lymphoma today.

I was sorry to hear that for a couple of reasons.

First of all, as I say, Lumet directed one of my all–time favorite movies. Well, actually, he directed several of my favorites. In addition to "12 Angry Men," he directed "Long Day's Journey Into Night" in 1962, "Fail–Safe" in 1964, "Serpico" in 1973, "Murder on the Orient Express" in 1974, "Dog Day Afternoon" in 1975, "Network" in 1976, "Equus" in 1977 — and many, many others.

But, of all the films he made, I think I like "12 Angry Men" the best. It's a close call between that one, "Murder on the Orient Express" and "Network," I think, but I'd give it to "12 Angry Men" by a nose.

Of course, I really liked "Fail–Safe," too. It really is a tough choice, you know?

But, yes, I guess I would have to say that "12 Angry Men" was my favorite.

I appreciated the writing in it so much. Of course, I would have to say the same thing about all the others. And that would prompt me to make another observation about Lumet. He really knew how to select top–notch writing to make into a movie.

He didn't rely too much on splashy special effects, even when they had matured into the effects one sees in more recent films. Nearly all of the "action" in "12 Angry Men" takes place in the jury room.

Yet even under such limited circumstances — and in black and white, no less — each juror's true colors were revealed.

Ironically, Lumet died only a few days before the 54th anniversary of the film's premiere.

Lumet's death also make me think of my friend Mike, who died 20 years ago this August. He, too, was a victim of lymphoma, a particularly aggressive form, apparently, because Mike died only a few months after being diagnosed with the disease.

Mike was still in his 20s when he died. He still had so much of his life left to live — but he never got a chance to live it.

We can be thankful, though, that Lumet did — and that he leaves behind so many fine films as his legacy.