Sidney Lumet: Interviews

Article excerpt

Joanna E. Rapf, editor. Sidney Lumet: Interviews. University Press of Mississippi, 2006. 200 pages; $20.00.

Little Guy

Author Joanna E. Rapf has meticulously collected twenty-one interviews about film director Sidney Lumet (b.1924), contributing to the Conversations with Filmmakers series published by the University of Mississippi Press. These outstanding interviews, including two translated for the first time into English, complement the author's own interview with this multi-faceted "reluctant auteur" (110). Lumet's film production is prestigious: forty-two films over a span of forty years. He is perhaps best known for the critically acclaimed Twelve Angry Men (1957), Serpico (1973), Dog Day Afiernoon (1976), Network (1976), The Verdict (1982), and most recently Find Me Guilty (2005). Lumet characterizes his films for showcasing "men who summon courage to challenge the system," highlighting the "little guy against the system" (vii). For those unaware, Sidney Lumet received an Honorary Academy Award in 2005, numerous Oscar nominations for Best Director, and has the D. W. Griffith Award for Lifetime Achievement (1993).

A lifelong New Yorker, Lumet began his theatrical career at age four, his Broadway debut at eleven, and appeared in Sidney Kingsley's film Dead End (1939) at fifteen. Discharged from the army after WWII, he made his television debut for CBS directing the series Studio One and Danger. Lumet's film directing career began with the critically acclaimed Twelve Angry Men in 1957. Throughout his prolific career Lumet has been labeled by his admirers as a "Hollywood" outsider content to showcase New York's gritty, high-energy, ethnic neighborhoods filled with crime and corruption but whose stark urban landscapes are important to his films (viii). …