One of those names that might not be quite as recognized as others, Sidney Lumet is one of the legendary directing talents in film history. Lumet died early Saturday in his sleep after suffering from lymphoma, his family confirmed.
Born in Philadelphia in 1924, Lumet soon moved to New York City where he would remain for the duration of his life and where he would set many of his eventual films. His career started early on with a radio job as a 4-year-old child and he had a run on Broadway in the ’30s before going off to World War II where he was a radio repairman.
Upon his return, the director formed an acting company in 1950 and many of his first directing jobs were TV series throughout the ’50s. Then came the big one: 1957’s 12 Angry Men, which nabbed Academy Award nominations for best picture, best writing, and best directing for Lumet — one of his five nominations. What’s even more impressive, perhaps, is that it’s listed at #7 on IMDB’s top 250 movies of all-time.
12 Angry Men – **** (Classic Movie) Directed by Sidney Lumet
Starring Martin Balsam, John Fiedler, Lee J. Cobb, E. G. Marshall, Jack Klugman, Edward Binns, Jack Warden, Henry Fonda, Joseph Sweeney, Ed Begley, George Voskovec, Robert Webber
Twelve men walk into a smoldering, small, fan-less room. They are a jury and have to make their decision on whether or not an 18-year-old boy who stabbed his father to death is guilty or not guilty. We only see outside of the small room for 3 minutes (secondhand learning of the case, never any flashbacks) and in one of the scenes it shows the judge telling the jury to make their decision in a bored tone voice. He knows that the jury is going to vote “not-guilty,” but he’s wrong. Most of them are thinking that this is going to be a half-hour meeting. Some light up their cigarettes, open the windows to get a whiff of fresh air, and sit back ready to make their vote. The foreman of it all then lays down the rules that there has to be a unanimous decision and then asks to hear everyone’s verdict. Eleven hands go up for claiming the boy guilty, which would lead to the boy getting sentenced to the electric chair, but one lone hand is proudly raised for not guilty.