Sidney Lumet Passes Away at 86

Published 4 years ago by , Updated February 24th, 2014 at 12:11 pm,

One of the quintessential American filmmakers of the 20th century, Sidney Lumet passed away earlier this morning at his home in Manhattan, at age 86. His stepdaughter, Leslie Gimbel, attributed his death to complications arising from lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes).

Born in Philadelphia on June 25th, 1924, to actor Baruch Lumet and dancer Eugenia Wemus Lumet, Sidney Lumet actually began performing on Broadway as a kid during the 1930s and made his film acting debut at age 15 in … One Third of a Nation…

Lumet would go on to become a successful television director during the 1950s, helming multiple episodes of shows like Danger, You Are There, The Best of Broadway, and The Alcoa Hour. He made his feature-length film directorial debut in 1957 with Twelve Angry Men, a multiple Oscar-nominee that the American Film Institute (AFI) ranks as the second greatest courtroom drama of all time.

Twelve Angry Men tells the tale of a lone juror (Henry Fonda) who slowly convinces his fellow jurors that the individual on trial – a young Spanish-American with a criminal record who has been accused of murdering his father – is in fact innocent. A dialogue-heavy piece that boasts strong performances all around, the socially-conscious courtroom drama set a precedent for Lumet’s later works – in terms of its tone, style, and subject matter.

12 Angry Men movie Sidney Lumet Sidney Lumet Passes Away at 86

Armed with a preference for shooting on location in the streets of New York – and not on the back lots of Hollywood – Lumet would go on to direct several acclaimed, gritty dramas and thrillers during the ’60s and ’70s. Among the numerous social issues that Lumet touched on throughout this time period ranged from everyday crimes and city life (The Pawnbroker) to the criminal justice system (Serpico) and even the motivation behind criminal behavior itself in the Oscar-winning 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon.

Lumet did occasionally work outside of the contemporary crime/drama genre during those two decades, and the results ranged from well received – his 1974 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder On the Orient Express – to the box office failure of his Wizard of Oz-inspired musical with Michael Jackson, The Wiz, in 1978.

While he was never awarded an Oscar for his work as a director, Lumet was nominated four times over the course of his career. Besides receiving nods for Twelve Angry Men and Dog Day Afternoon, Lumet also received a nomination for his 1982 courtroom drama The Verdict, and for one of his most famous films, the 1976 motion picture Network – a satirical piece about a TV anchor (Peter Finch, who won a posthumous Oscar for the role) whose onscreen rants against what he perceives as corruption in American society are exploited by the network for profit. It is also the film responsible for the now famous expression, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

Peter Finch in Network Sidney Lumet Passes Away at 86

Lumet remained active throughout the ’80s and ’90s, directing such films as Power, Running On Empty, Family Business, Guilty As Sin, and Gloria. He worked on the television show 100 Centre Street from 2001-2002, and helmed the real-life crime drama/comedy Find Me Guilty with Vin Diesel in 2006. The last film Lumet directed was the acclaimed drama/thriller Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, which starred Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke as brothers who conspire to rob their parents’ jewelry shop – with horrible consequences.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences did finally present Lumet with an honorary Academy Award in 2005, in lieu of his highly decorated and accomplished career as a filmmaker.

Sidney Lumet is survived by his wife Mary Gimbel, his biological daughters Amy and Jenny Lumet, his stepchildren Bailey and Leslie Gimbel, and numerous grandchildren.

We here at Screen Rant offer our sincere condolences to Mr. Lumet’s family and friends, and wish them the best in this difficult time.

R.I.P. Sidney Lumet: June 25th, 1924 – April 9th, 2011.

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  1. The Golden Hollywood age is slowly fading. But we always have the Twilight Saga, Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never, Alvin and the Chipmunks and the trillions of sequels/remakes/reboots to “entertain” us. RIP to a big one.

  2. R. I. P. Sidney my condolences go out to his family and friends

  3. RIP Mr Lumet. Never afraid to deal with unusual and potentially troublesome subject matter. I’d add The Hill with Sean Connery and The Pawnbroker with Rod Steiger to the list of classics on his CV there.

    • Yeah, “The Hill” is my fav film by Lumet.
      Just love the camera works and the overall dark tone.

  4. Great director. Directed a number of Connery’s little known post-bond gems as well.

  5. 12 Angry Men is perhaps one of my favorite films. Every aspect of it was so meticulously planned and filmed to make a wonderful film. What a great director and contributer to the film industry.

  6. I was shocked to hear this news. He was, and will forever be, one of the orginial, great American directors in the history of cinema. He directed over 50 films, and kept working to the last second. The only other director I can think of who has that work ethic and the same large body of work is Woody Allen.

    From 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, to what has turned out to be his final film, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, he will remain an inspiration to countless generations of directors.

    May he rest in peace.

  7. An immensely talented gentleman. He leaves behind an impressive legacy of work. 12 Angry Men is one of his finest (and Hollywood’s), in my opinion.

  8. My condolences go out to his family. He was a great director, who will be missed. Rest in peace.

  9. Will always remember that scene from “Network” and how good of a job he did with it.

    Great actor and will be missed.

  10. Rest In Peace Great One.. You will be missed but you’ll never be forgotten..

  11. Man, this guy was great. I thought Before the Devil Knows Your Dead was such an underrated movie and it showed that even in his early 80s Lumet could direct circles around most young filmmakers working today. RIP Sid, you’ll be sorely missed

  12. My deep sympathy to Sidney Lumet. He is the best American filmmakers of the 20th century.