... remarkable ... readable, insightful and entertaining. A great biography offers more than an understanding of its subject. It places that person in history by chronicling one life among many other lives, and one life experience among countless others that shape a generation...Spiegel’s portrayal of one of cinema’s most socially aware filmmakers is for anyone who enjoys movies or simply wants to learn more about them ... Spiegel’s attention to detail as she discusses each Lumet film creates new perspectives for readers and the opportunity to take another view of his classic work with fresh insights and understanding. This book is not to be missed.
Some of the anecdotes she extracts from her subjects provide revealing glimpses of a man who seemed to be a mystery to even himself. But readers may wish that Spiegel spent a little more time on his movies. The book’s greatest strength is its first half, thanks no doubt to Spiegel’s access to Lumet’s unfinished memoir. The director abandoned his autobiography as the story line reached his 20s. As a result, in Spiegel’s book, Lumet’s early years, before his movie career kicks off, are chronicled with a gripping degree of detail ... But Spiegel struggles to find anything new (or particularly deep) to say about his body of work as a director. As a result, the second half of Sidney Lumet too often feels as if the author is sprinting to meet a deadline . . . or catch a bus ... Spiegel shortchanges too many of Lumet’s most influential projects, offering little or no context or critical insight to flesh them out ... [an] ultimately superficial biography, where Lumet remains an enigma and his life’s work an afterthought.
Spiegel gives a fascinating account of that life ...Ms. Spiegel has contrived to give us a very full picture both of her subject’s personal and professional lives—lives that richly reflected the themes and concerns of the century into which he was born.
... insightful and entertaining ... Spiegel paints a rounded portrait of her subject. Her admiration for Lumet is apparent throughout ... Though Spiegel deals with Lumet’s four marriages, those craving gossipy details will likely be disappointed ... Spiegel does a neat balancing act of getting readers to know about Lumet the man and Lumet the filmmaker. And after reading her bio, you’re sure to develop a richer appreciation of his screen legacy.
Those looking for an extensive examination of the motivations behind the development of Lumet's films should understand that Spiegel doesn't get into an examination of the movies until nearly halfway through this book. There are 30 years to cover before the movies come into play, and Spiegel draws from some dramatic lines to paint a picture of a rift between son and father that seemed to fuel Lumet's drive ... Spiegel has done her research here and built a powerful text-based on extensive interviews. Cinema-specific texts will go deeper into the production and legacy of his classic films from the 1970s. Read Spiegel's book for a sensitive portrayal of a man whose vision for a film community came to realization. Lumet's legacy of socially relevant, actor-based and narrative-run movies will resonate.
Spiegel uses passages from an unfinished memoir and interviews with friends, family, and actors to create a portrait of a strong, complicated, but compassionate man who created classics with a strong New York City atmosphere ... does not dwell too much on the technical. Instead, Spiegel focuses on the humanity involved in each film, Lumet’s relationships, and the presence of Lumet’s home, New York City ... Though some readers may find the book at times too congratulatory (there are no juicy tidbits), it does provide a strong perspective of a talented but uncompromising director. An insightful biography, perfect for film buffs.
[Lumet's] is a life rich in story, both personal and professional, and Spiegel does a yeoman’s job of telling those stories in this illuminating biography ... sections of the book sparkle with life and vivid anecdotes, detailing how Lumet honed his craft directing such shows as Playhouse 90 and working with actors like Paul Newman, Rod Steiger, and James Dean ... Lumet’s is also a New Yorker’s story, and his love of the city and its streets is palpable throughout. Essential reading for movie fans.
A well-grounded biography ... Spiegel offers a comprehensive study of this multifaceted filmmaker, thoughtfully examining the creative and personal forces that influenced his work ... Spiegel comfortably weaves elements of Lumet’s personal life into her narrative, touching on his complex relationship with his father, Baruch, also a theater actor in his day; his four marriages (Gloria Vanderbilt was his second wife); two children; and his expansive network of show business friends. Yet the author shines brightest in her illumination of Lumet’s skills as a director. Beyond offering knowledgeable film summaries, she deftly examines the technical artistry he brought to each project ... A likely definitive exploration of the director’s distinguished career—of great interest to budding filmmakers and film enthusiasts.