99 Great Directors: Sidney Lumet

“All great work is preparing yourself for the accident to happen.”

What Got This Director Here?
: Body of work.

My Favorite Past Experience Was…: Network.

What Did I Watch: I hadn’t seen 12 Angry Men since middle school, so I went with that.

Where Does He Fit: 12 Angry Men is a play that derives its entire meaning from what kind of person you cast as each specific juror unless you do some rewriting. Having it be twelve white men is depressingly seen as the default, but Lumet makes the straightforward version the one with the most teeth, with all members of the ensemble shining brilliantly as tension gets ratcheted up simply by pinpoint precise camera placements. It’s the most hellish of chamber dramas, and even if the entire premise is a contrived allegory, you believe in it so badly that it stings. The logic is so faulty that it holds together.


Most Valuable Asset: Old fashioned framings.
Most Excited For: Dog Day Afternoon.
Did They Deserve a Spot?: Sure.

Coming Up Next: James Cameron and his shiny new toys.

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