Sidney Lumet: On Dialogue

Excerpt from Making Movies:

Lumet’s movies always have a lot of talking in them. One of the greatest examples is “Network”. Sidney Lumet, unlike many other directors, does not shy away from a lot of dialogue. Here he explains why:

Dialogue is not uncinematic. So many movies of the 30s and 40s we adore are constant streams of dialogue. Of course we remember James Cagney squashing a grapefruit into Mae Clarke’s face. But does that evoke more affectionate memory than “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid”? God know Chaplin trying to eat corn on a mechanized feeder in Modern Times is a great sight gag. But I don’t think I’ve ever laughed harder than when, at the end of Some Like it Hot, Joe E. Brown says to Jack Lemmon, “Well, – nobody’s perfect.”

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4 Responses to Sidney Lumet: On Dialogue

  1. JFH says:

    “I coulda been a contender”

  2. JFH says:

    (I realize that Kazan directed that one, but It still is one of my favorite monologues)

    This comment required just in case Sheila sees the above comment and says: “I’m made as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”, refering to people who can’t keep great directors straight.

  3. JFH says:

    uh… I meant “referring” (don’t want to get red even more made with typos!?

  4. red says:

    Oh good Lord, typos away. I don’t care about that here, because I’m not a business or the mainstream media.

    I love Lumet’s point about the old films … I mean, think about His Girl Friday – one of the talkiest movies ever made, but also one of the funniest, one of the most frenetic … You cannot keep up with those two. There is a feeling now that “dialogue is uncinematic” – which I think is one of the reasons why Quentin Tarantino’s script for Pulp Fiction was so rightly praised, and so startling – these people TALKED. In such individual interesting ways … You watched the acting, yes, but you also were like: Damn, listen to those words!

    Closer, which I just saw, had the same kind of script. Not surprisingly, it was a successful play first.