Prolific American film director Sidney Lumet dies

Sat Apr 9, 2011 7:02pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sidney Lumet, an American film director known for inspiring top-notch performances from actors in a stream of classic films including "12 Angry Men," "Dog Day Afternoon," "Network" and "Fail-Safe," died on Saturday at age 86, his Hollywood talent agency said.

Lumet's death at his Manhattan home was confirmed by Michelle Suess, a spokeswoman for International Creative Management in Los Angeles.

Lumet was one of the leading film directors of the second half of the 20th century. He was prolific, directing more than 40 movies, and was versatile, dabbling in many different film genres. He shot many of his movies in his native New York.

Lumet received an honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement in 2005. He had been nominated for Oscars five times without winning: as best director for "12 Angry Men" (1957), "Dog Day Afternoon" (1975), "Network" (1976) and "The Verdict" (1982), and for best screenplay as co-writer of "Prince Of The City" (1981).

His films, nominated in a variety of categories for more than 50 Oscars, typically were unsentimental and well-crafted, exploring intelligent and complicated themes.

In a busy 12-year span -- 1964 to 1976 -- Lumet directed 18 films, including "Fail-Safe," "The Pawnbroker," "The Group," "The Anderson Tapes," "Serpico," "Murder on the Orient Express," "Dog Day Afternoon" and "Network."

He continued to direct films well into his 80s.

"He has the energy of a young man and the mind of a young man," Oscar-winner Philip Seymour told the Houston Chronicle. Hoffman starred in Lumet's bleak crime melodrama "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" in 2007 when the director was 83.

Lumet was acclaimed for his technical know-how and his ability to coax strong performances from actors. He drew some of the best career performances out of Hollywood stars such as Henry Fonda, Paul Newman, Al Pacino and Faye Dunaway. He directed 17 acting performances nominated for Oscars.   Continued...

<p>Then actor Sidney Lumet is pictured in the Broadway play "Journey to Jerusalem," in this October 18, 1940 portrait obtained on April 9, 2011. REUTERS/Library of Congress, Prints &amp; Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection/LC-USZ62-54231/Handout</p>