Sidney Lumet

Director


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-hour Archive interview, Sidney Lumet (1924-2011) speaks of his work as an actor on the stage before he became a director in television. He recalls his work on the television series Danger (1950-55) and You Are There (1953-57), both "live" dramatic shows of the time. He discusses the use of blacklisted writers on these shows and how the material they wrote often reflected the era of McCarthyism. He also discusses other television dramatic anthology series he directed, including Omnibus, Goodyear Playhouse, The Alcoa Hour, Studio One, and Kraft Television Theatre. Lumet describes his direction of the well-known television special The Sacco-Vanzetti Story and The Play of the Week: "The Iceman Cometh," both of which aired in 1960. He speaks of his transition to directing feature films with "12 Angry Men" in 1957 and his work on feature films including the Paddy Chayefsky's satire, "Network" (1976). Dr. Ralph Engleman conducted the interview on October 28, 1999 in New York, NY.

"I was an actor myself. The process of acting is extremely painful. I know that doesn't sound logical to most people, but all good work is self-revelation. That's true for performing artists as well. If I can help them to feel any more secure, and any more unafraid of releasing whatever part of themselves they have to, I understand that I can help them that way. They feel that. I don't even have to articulate it."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Sidney Lument on the technical challenges of doing Danger live, and on mishaps during the broadcasts
Sidney Lument on directing the film version of the Studio One production of "12 Angry Men"
Sidney Lumet on his experience with the Hollywood Blacklist
Sidney Lumet on making the transition to directing feature films, and on directing the feature film "Network"
Sidney Lumet on working with actors
Sidney Lumet on how television was regarded when he started working in the industry
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on early theater directors that influenced him
On early radio he listened to; on his experience during World War II; on trying his hand at being an actor

Chapter 2

On his experience at the Actors Studio; on seeing television at the 1939-40 World's Fair, and on getting into television; on being hired as an assistant director at CBS
On how television was regarded when he started working in the industry; on being assistant director on Danger; on the technical challenges of doing Danger live

Chapter 3

On the technical challenges of doing Danger live, and on mishaps during the broadcasts; on Danger and You Are There producer Charlie Russell; on how movie actors adapted to television, and on directing You Are There
On the end of Danger, and on the writers of the show; on the correspondents of You Are There, and on their political affiliations and the Blacklist

Chapter 4

On his experience with the Hollywood Blacklist; on individuals that were targeted by the Hollywood Blacklist, including Walter Bernstein, and on blacklisted writers
On various television scripts that were covertly about the Hollywood Blacklist; on leaving television for features and Broadway; on directing for The Alcoa Hour and on working for producer Herbert Brodkin

Chapter 5

On directing The Alcoa Hour production of "Tragedy in a Temporary Town"; on directing the film version of the Studio One production of "12 Angry Men"
On how he was assigned or chose which live anthology shows to direct in the 1950s; on the preparation and process of directing live anthology series in the 1950s; on working with actors
On directing various episode of Studio One; on directing Kraft Television Theatre, and on producer David Susskind

Chapter 6

On directing the two-part movie for television The Sacco-Vanzetti Story; on the advent of video tape; on the end of the Golden Age of Television
On making the transition to directing feature films, and on directing the feature film "Network"; on the then-current state of television; on advice to an aspiring television director
On then-current projects; on career highlights and regrets, and on how he'd like to be remembered; on the themes that connect his works
Shows

Alcoa Hour, The

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Sidney Lumet on directing for The Alcoa Hour and on working for producer Herbert Brodkin
Sidney Lumet on directing The Alcoa Hour production of "Tragedy in a Temporary Town"

Danger

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Sidney Lumet on being assistant director on Danger
Sidney Lumet on the technical challenges of doing Danger live
Sidney Lument on the technical challenges of doing Danger live, and on mishaps during the broadcasts
Sidney Lument on Danger and You Are There producer Charlie Russell
Sidney Lument on the end of Danger, and on the writers of the show

Kraft Television Theatre

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Sidney Lumet on directing Kraft Television Theatre, and on producer David Susskind

Studio One

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Sidney Lumet on directing the film version of the Studio One production of "12 Angry Men"
Sidney Lumet on directing various episode of Studio One, including "No Deadly Medicine"

Sunday Showcase: "The Sacco-Vanzetti Story"

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Sidney Lumet on directing the two-part movie for television The Sacco-Vanzetti Story

You Are There

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Sidney Lument on Danger and You Are There producer Charlie Russell, and on working with the network
Sidney Lument on how movie actors, including James Dean, adapted to television, and on directing You Are There
Sidney Lument on the correspondents of You Are There, and on their political affiliations and the Blacklist
Topics

1939-40 World's Fair

View Topic
Sidney Lumet on seeing television at the World's Fair, and on getting into television

Advice

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Sidney Lumet on advice to an aspiring television director

Anthology Drama

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Sidney Lumet on the end of the Golden Age of Television

Bloopers

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Sidney Lument on the technical challenges of doing Danger live, and on mishaps during the broadcasts

Historic Events and Social Change

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Sidney Lumet on his experience during World War II
Sidney Lumet on seeing television at the World's Fair, and on getting into television

Hollywood Blacklist

View Topic
Sidney Lument on the correspondents of You Are There, and on their political affiliations and the Blacklist
Sidney Lumet on his experience with the Hollywood Blacklist
Sidney Lumet on individuals that were targeted by the Hollywood Blacklist, including Walter Bernstein, and on blacklisted writers
Sidney Lumet on various television scripts that were covertly about the Hollywood Blacklist

Industry Crossroads

View Topic
Sidney Lument on the correspondents of You Are There, and on their political affiliations and the Blacklist
Sidney Lumet on his experience with the Hollywood Blacklist
Sidney Lumet on individuals that were targeted by the Hollywood Blacklist, including Walter Bernstein, and on blacklisted writers
Sidney Lumet on various television scripts that were covertly about the Hollywood Blacklist

TV's Golden Age (1940s & '50s)

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Sidney Lumet on the end of the Golden Age of Television

Technological Innovation

View Topic
Sidney Lumet on the advent of video tape

Television Industry

View Topic
Sidney Lument on the correspondents of You Are There, and on their political affiliations and the Blacklist
Sidney Lumet on his experience with the Hollywood Blacklist
Sidney Lumet on individuals that were targeted by the Hollywood Blacklist, including Walter Bernstein, and on blacklisted writers
Sidney Lumet on various television scripts that were covertly about the Hollywood Blacklist
Sidney Lumet on the then-current state of television
Sidney Lumet on advice to an aspiring television director

War

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Sidney Lumet on his experience during World War II

World War II

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Sidney Lumet on his experience during World War II
Professions

Directors

View Profession
Sidney Lumet on how he was assigned or chose which live anthology shows to direct in the 1950s
Sidney Lumet on the preparation and process of directing live anthology series in the 1950s
Sidney Lumet on working with actors
Sidney Lumet on advice to an aspiring television director
Genres

Classic Anthology Series

View Genre
Sidney Lumet on directing for The Alcoa Hour and on working for producer Herbert Brodkin
Sidney Lument on directing The Alcoa Hour production of "Tragedy in a Temporary Town"
Sidney Lument on directing the film version of the Studio One production of "12 Angry Men"
Sidney Lumet on directing various episode of Studio One
Sidney Lumet on directing Kraft Television Theatre, and on producer David Susskind

Drama Series

View Genre
Sidney Lumet on being assistant director on Danger
Sidney Lumet on directing Danger and You Are There

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

View Genre
Sidney Lumet on directing the two-part movie for television The Sacco-Vanzetti Story
People

Walter Bernstein

View Interview Page
Sidney Lumet on individuals that were targeted by the Hollywood Blacklist, including Walter Bernstein, and on blacklisted writers

Herbert Brodkin

View Person Page
Sidney Lumet on directing for The Alcoa Hour and on working for producer Herbert Brodkin

James Dean

View Person Page
Sidney Lument on how movie actors, including James Dean, adapted to television, and on directing You Are There

Charlie Russell

View Person Page
Sidney Lument on Danger and You Are There producer Charlie Russell

David Susskind

View Person Page
Sidney Lumet on directing Kraft Television Theatre, and on producer David Susskind

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