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American film director Sidney Lumet, who has died aged 86, directed three of my all-time favourite films: Serpico, The Hill, and The Offence.

For the bulk of his career, he averaged a film a year, earning four Oscar nominations along the way for best director, for 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Network (which earned Peter Finch a posthumous Oscar) and The Verdict.

The Hill, like 12 Angry Men, has an all-male cast, and simmers throughout with repressed rage and resentment which eventually explodes, conveyed brilliantly by great British actors like Ian Hendry, Ian Bannen, Sean Connery and Harry Andrews.

The Offence, another of Lumet’s British films with Sean Connery and Ian Bannen, has a score by Harrison Birtwistle, Serpico picks up on that documentary feel that William Friedkin used in The French Connection, and The Hill, which has no music and is shot in monochrome, certainly makes my top ten films ever. It scared the shit out of me when I first saw it.

R.I.P. Sidney Lumet, film director, born 25 June 1924; died 9 April 2011

Sidney Lumet: a career in pictures
A Director of Classics, Focused on Conscience

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Black Dogs Defined

This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another: my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.

(John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies)

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

(Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning)

This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me.

(Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world)

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig)

R.A.D. Stainforth

I was born before The Beatles’ first LP and brought up in the reeking slums of Jericho. I am in love with a woman called Hazel and in love with her daughter, also called Hazel, both of whom I met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

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