American Masters (1985– )
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By Sidney Lumet 

Film legend Sidney Lumet (1924-2011) tells his own story in a never-before-seen interview shot in 2008. With candor, humor and grace, Lumet reveals what matters to him as an artist and as a human being.


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Episode cast overview:
Sidney Lumet ... Himself
Treat Williams ... Himself
Nancy Buirski Nancy Buirski ... Herself


Prolific and versatile filmmaker Sidney Lumet made 44 films in 50 years, earning the Academy Honorary Award for lifetime achievement after four Oscar nominations. Considered a quintessential New York filmmaker, Lumet frequently used New York City's urban mettle to infuse his films with a realism and intensity that kept audiences in suspense while prodding them to consider their own morality. He tells his own story in a never-before-seen interview shot in 2008. With candor, humor and grace, Lumet reveals what matters to him as an artist and as a human being. Weaving Lumet's personal stories and commentary with scenes from his films creates a portrait of one of the most accomplished, influential and socially conscious directors in the history of cinema. The American Masters broadcast features a new, exclusive interview with Golden Globe- and Emmy Award-nominated actor Treat Williams, who starred in Lumet's Prince of the City. Written by PBS

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Release Date:

3 January 2017 (USA) See more »

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16:9 HD
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User Reviews

Sidney the prolific.
19 January 2020 | by st-shotSee all my reviews

Some years back I recall Sidney Lumet commenting on his rapid style versus the pains taking drawn out deliberations of Stanley Kubrick. It was a case of preparation versus making and while Lumet had nothing but praise for Stanley's work that produced 3 films in the last quarter century of his career Lumet (44 films in a 50 year career) stood in stark contrast with a steady output that ran from classic (12 Angy Men, Network, Dog Day Afternoon) to dismal (The Last of the Mobile Hot Shots, Lovin' Molly, Garbo Talks, The Appointment) to absolute disaster (The Wiz).

In this American Masters bio, Lumet intriguingly opens with a story that lingers throughout as a thread that ties loosely together his filmography and the stand alone, conflicted protagonists in these films facing fierce blowback for their actions. Mostly comfortable within the 5 boroughs of New York he perfectly captured the chaos and corruption of a city backpedaling in the 70s. Without the vivd bloodletting of the new kid on the block Scorsese (Taxi Driver) but with a more internalized struggle realized in the myriad of outstanding performances that stretched from Henry Fonda and Kate Hepburn through Rod Steiger, Al Pacino and Peter Finch to Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lumet did not present a world of black and white but vague gray.

Outside of his father, an actor in Yiddish theatre he has little to say about family but by the end of the doc it has revealed vast amounts of information about Lumet through his films and his forthright honesty in facing the challenge in life to do right. One of the finer American Masters with Lumet an enthusiastic interviewee as well being a key figure during the golden age of television and the last golden age of film (1967-77).

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