June 25, 1924 – April 9, 2011
I think that mustering up an effective eulogy to Sidney Lumet is a touch beyond me today. I have hardly watched each of his films, but I am certainly a little versed in those the world considered the greats; the most recent dip into his back catalogue being The Verdict (one can tell my addiction to Turner Classic Movies/TCM has been nearing a plateau, of late). Because of this, I can also spare us all the ramble involving the various ways in which The Wiz scarred me for life (consider the Wicked Witch's melting scene - my God, for something so cartoony, it seems so... visceral, like Christopher Lloyd in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, perhaps. And no three year old Michael Jackson fan wishes to see his idol torn apart - what would Freud say?). Besides, I think he actually came aboard that project because he wanted to sleep with Diana Ross
One of the best things about Lumet's work is that in an increasingly cynical existence referred to as "life," his rich seam of humanist work has embedded itself so deeply in the culture that there is practically a quotable for every film he shot. Consider:
"I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!""Drop your cocks and grab your socks!"
(I may be reaching with that last one)
The past decade has seen a number of our leading lights of the creative arts pass on; this year has seen more than I would care to name, in fact. And as far as I can discern, it seems to be quite the struggle to replenish the sorts of technical qualities and insights into human behaviour that talents like Lumet offered. But then, that's what iconic status means to me - a capacity to achieve or to symbolise achievement so that others may observe, learn, admire and wish it was them about to galvanise the careers of several gossip columnists by indulging in behaviour most indelicate at the celebrity festooned after party of a major awards event
Farewell, Mr. Lumet. And for the record, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon and Network were my other favourites. I like your actors when they shout