5 Reasons Sidney Lumet is One of the Greatest Directors of All Time

5. He Was An Actor's Director

I once had the opportunity to talk with retired producer and assistant director Joel Segal, who told me at length that he got to spend some time with Lumet while the director was still alive making films. The extent of what he told me was nothing but praise, including many stories about how the actors Lumet worked with all shared a great admiration for him as a director. And, as I'll talk in further entries on this list, his kindness to his talent and reverence to the craft of acting was formed through both experience as a theatrical director in off-Broadway production and his work ethic. He speaks about this at great length in his book, Making Movies, and talks about the identity of an actor and the selflessness an actor must have to give such an impactful performance. Lumet had to know what made actors tick in order to draw out some of cinema's finest performances of all time. This kind of devotion to such a pivotal element of film, the performance, would most oftentimes be the element that truly elevated his pictures above the rest that were being produced.
€œAll good work requires self-revelation.€- Sidney Lumet, Making Movies
Lumet understood that humanity is captured by humanity and that he uses these dignified performances to adequately mirror the "here and now" emotion of the picture as it happens. Because, often times, you don't walk away from a Lumet film feeling as if you've experienced some sort of journey, even though the man is a master of character arc. Instead, he puts you in the middle of war, as the first shots are being fired, and lets you linger in the madhouse that is the human spirit. He grips an audience through the actors he directs and manages to capture the magic that has long been bestowed in the mortal grasp before there was ever a time in which a camera could replay life; he illuminates the soul of man.
"All I want to do is get better and quantity can help me to solve my problems. I'm thrilled by the idea that I'm not even sure how many films I've done. If I don't have a script I adore, I do one I like. If I don't have one I like, I do one that has an actor I like or that presents some technical challenge." - Sidney Lumet
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Cameron Carpenter is an aspiring screenwriter, current film and journalism student, and self-diagnosed cinephile, which only sounds bad in certain circles. Devoted fan of comics, movies, theater, Jesus Christ, Sidney Lumet, and Peter O'Toole, he sometimes spends too much time on his Scribd and comicbookmovie.com, but doesn't think you're one to judge, devoted reader. You can follow him on Twitter to watch him talk to people you didn't know exist. Oh, and Daredevil is quite the big deal around here (my head).