14 Apr 2011 @ 6:00 AM 

Thursday Minute
No. 234 | April 14, 2011

Sidney Lumet, R.I.P.

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Over the weekend I was in Utah (surviving, it turned out), and saddened to learn of Sidney Lumet’s death.  I had the itch to see one of his films, and when I made it home I put on The Verdict.  No particular reason, except maybe that I hadn’t seen it in a while.  It’s a film I had admired but it was even better than I remembered.  Paul Newman was brilliant, as good as he ever was, and the film allowed itself a darkness unlike anything you’d see in any movie today.  Lumet made something truly special.  You get a taste in the clip below.

For more of Lumet, check out this conversation with Charlie Rose from 2006.  I recall seeing it the first time.  I’d been a fan of Lumet’s films, and I’d read his book a couple of times.  He was a guy I’d stop and listen to anytime.  It’s a good interview, and after an engaging discussion about movies, Lumet got to talking about another of my interests, crossword puzzles.  Turns out he was a daily solver of the New York Times puzzle, “In ink!” he was proud to note.  “Except Thursday,” he added with a smile.  “Thursday has been getting tougher.”  That was sweet to hear at the time.  I was just getting started as a constructor, with a puzzle that had run in the Times that month, on a Thursday, a tricky number with a theme on squares.  It was a kick to think that the director whose work had given me many thrills over the years may have had a few minutes of pleasure with something I had done.  Yet if that’s the case, I still got the better end of the exchange.  I owe you, Sidney.  We all do.

Finally, a link to the N.Y. Times retrospective “The Last Word,” on the films and life of Sidney Lumet, with reporter Tim Weiner.

Our theme this week
Director Sidney Lumet

The Verdict

the verdict

Sidney Lumet, in his own words:

The Verdict, Andrzej Bartkowiak, photographer.  The movie was about a man’s salvation, his fight to rid himself of his past.

I wanted as “old” a look as possible.  Art direction had a lot to contribute, and we’ll deal with that later.  But light mattered enormously.

One day I brought a beautiful edition of Caravaggio’s paintings to my meeting with Andrzej.  I said, “Andrzej, there’s the feeling I’m after.  There’s something ancient here, something from a long time ago.  What is it?”  Andrzej studied the pictures.  Then, with his charming Polish accent, he pinpointed it.  “It’s chiaroscuro,” he said.  “A very strong light source, almost always from the side, not above.  And on the other side, no soft fill light, only shadows.  Once in a while he’ll use the reflective light of a metal source on the dark side.”  He pointed to a young boy holding a golden salver.  On the shadow side of the boy’s face, one could discern a slight golden hue.  And that’s what Andrzej carried out in the lighting of the movie.

Making Movies, 1995 


The Verdict (1982)
Sidney Lumet, director
Barry Reed (novel); David Mamet (screenplay); writers
Andrzej Bartkowiak, cinematographer
Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling, Jack Warden, James Mason


Quote of note
Hoyle
:  Frank, what would you and your client take—right now, this very minute—to walk out of here, let this damn thing drop?
Galvin:  My client can’t walk, your honor.
Hoyle:  I know full well she can’t, Frank.  You see the padre on your way out.  He’ll punch your ticket.  You follow me?
—Judge Hoyle (Milo O’Shea), Frank Galvin (Paul Newman), The Verdict (1982)

…58…59…60.

 29 Mar 2011 @ 6:00 AM 

Tuesday Minute
Entr’acte | March 29, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor, R.I.P.


Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
“Miss Taylor… is terrific as a panting, impatient wife, wanting the love of her husband as sincerely as she wants an inheritance.”
—Bosley Crowther, The New York Times, 1958

Not everything as Tennessee Williams intended it to be, but the film still packs a powerful punch.  During production, Elizabeth Taylor’s third husband, Mike Todd, died in a plane crash.  It was the only one of her marriages not to end in divorce.


Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
Richard Brooks, director
Tennessee Williams (play); Richard Brooks, James Poe (screenplay); writers
Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman


…58…59…60.

Posted By: John Farmer
Last Edit: 27 Mar 2011 @ 12:47 PM

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 03 Feb 2011 @ 6:00 AM 

Thursday Minute
Entr’acte | February 3, 2011

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Going out with guns blazing.


Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
George Roy Hill, director
William Goldman, writer
Conrad L. Hall, director of photography
Paul Newman, Robert Redford

 


…58…59…60.

Posted By: John Farmer
Last Edit: 31 Jan 2011 @ 10:38 PM

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 01 Feb 2011 @ 6:00 AM 

Tuesday Minute
Entr’acte | February 1, 2011

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Butch and Sundance in Bolivia.


Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
George Roy Hill, director
William Goldman, writer
Conrad L. Hall, director of photography
Paul Newman, Robert Redford

 


…58…59…60.

Posted By: John Farmer
Last Edit: 31 Jan 2011 @ 10:38 PM

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 28 Apr 2010 @ 6:00 AM 

Wednesday Minute
No. 84 | April 28, 2010

Deal Me In


Our theme this week

Card games at the movies

Featured this week (theme introduction)
Monday         —   The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
Tuesday         —   Rounders (1998)

The Sting (1973)

the sting

“You can’t con an honest man” always has struck me as a suspect piece of wisdom—but the converse is a truism I can agree with.  A crooked man can be conned.  When it happens, it’s fun to watch, and that’s a good part of the pleasure behind The Sting, a clever and stylish period piece starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford.  It’s a Depression-era story made for a Watergate-era audience with the uplifting moral that the good guys are sometimes better cheaters than the bad guys.  (The look of the film is mostly appropriate for its 1936 setting, including Norman Rockwell-like illustrations for the titles.  The music, however, borrows from an earlier time, with a memorable score largely based on the ragtime of Scott Joplin.)

The film is expertly plotted, as con men Henry Gondorff (Newman) and Johnny Hooker (Redford) set up and execute an elaborate sting to swindle crime boss Doyle Lonnegan, played by Robert Shaw.  One small part of the operation is the “hook,” a high-stakes poker game on the Chicago train, in which Lonnegan is foiled by his own cheating.

The Sting was a big hit with critics and with audiences—the Best Picture winner of 1973 and #1 film at the box office the following year. 


The Sting
George Roy Hill, director
Paul Newman, Robert Redford


The Sting
Paul Newman, Robert Shaw
“The Hook”


Quote of Note
Beckert
:  I can’t help what I do!  I can’t help it, I can’t.
Criminal:  The old story!  We never can help it in court!
Beckert:  What do you know about it?  Who are you anyway?  Who are you?  Criminals?  Are you proud of yourselves?  Proud of breaking safes or cheating at cards?  Things you could just as well keep your fingers off.  You wouldn’t need to do all that if you’d learn a proper trade or if you’d work.  If you weren’t a bunch of lazy bastards.  But I—I can’t help myself!  I have no control over this, this evil thing inside of me, the fire, the voices, the torment!
—Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre), M (1931)

…58…59…60.

Posted By: John Farmer
Last Edit: 28 Apr 2010 @ 08:42 AM

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