Acclaimed director Sidney Lumet (1924-2011) was renowned for his authentic use of New York City in a long list of classic films. While he tried his hand at comedies (in fact, his best film is one of the greatest satires ever made) and even an adaptation of a Broadway musical, he is best remembered for his affinity for police procedurals and courtroom dramas, creating masterful sagas of crime and punishment.
By CBSNews.com producer David Morgan
Beginning his career as a child actor, Lumet eventually turned to directing, becoming one of the leading lights of live television in the 1950s. His first feature was the 1957 film version of "12 Angry Men," which revealed the tensions bursting within a jury room as a dozen men debated the fate of a murder suspect. The film featured a heavyweight cast, including Lee J. Cobb, Jack Warden, E.G. Marshall, Martin Balsam, Jack Klugman, Ed Begley and Henry Fonda. Lumet received an Oscar nomination for Best Director.
Anna Magnani and Marlon Brando in "The Fugitive Kind" (1960).
Lumet is pictured on the set of a 1962 film adaptation of Arthur Miller's "A View From the Bridge," shot in Europe in French and English and released as "Vu du Pont."
Lumet directed Henry Fonda again as the President in the nuclear thriller "Fail Safe" (1964). In background is Larry Hagman as the interpreter.
Rod Steiger gave a towering performance in "The Pawnbroker" (1964), one of the first films to deal with the Holocaust.
Sean Connery (who had already worked with Lumet in the 1965 military drama "The Hill") starred in one of the ultimate heist films: 1971's "The Anderson Tapes," in which thieves seek to plunder an entire New York City apartment building.
Connery was to work with Lumet several more times, including the 1972 police thriller "The Offense" (1972), in which he played a detective testing boundaries of conduct when interrogating a suspected child molester (Ian Bannen).
The true story of undercover cop Frank Serpico was memorably depicted in the 1973 film "Serpico," starring Al Pacino.
A poster for the 1974 film "Murder on the Orient Express," whose success began a spate of Agatha Christie adaptations. Lumet's thriller - confined almost entirely to a train - was a masterful mystery with an all-star cast that included Connery, Balsam, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Richard Widmark, Michael York, and Albert Finney as the detective Hercule Poirot.
Pacino starred in another crime saga based on a real-life robbery at a Brooklyn bank, in "Dog Day Afternoon" (1975). The film captured the heightened and tangled emotions of the hostage crisis and the developing media circus, boosted by Pacino's cries of "Attica! Attica!" to stir the crowd of onlookers.
With a screenplay by Paddy Chayefsky, Lumet's 1976 "Network" - a biting satire of broadcast journalism, corporate malfeasence, and the corroding influence of television on society - sported a powerful cast, including William Holden, Robert Duvall, Faye Dunaway and Ned Beatty. But the biggest star turn was by Peter Finch as the mentally disturbed newscaster Howard Beale, who is elevated by an unscrupulous TV exec to become a "mad prophet of the airwaves." His signature phrase - "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take this any more!" - is one of the most memorable in cinema history. Finch, Chayefsky, Dunaway and Beatrice Straight all won Oscars, and Lumet won the Golden Globe.
Richard Burton as a psychiatrist trying to help Peter Firth in the drama "Equus" (1977).
A poster for the film version of the Broadway musical "The Wiz." Its stars included Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell and Richard Pryor.
Treat Williams as a cop who agrees to wear a wire as part of an investigation into police corruption in "Prince of the City."
Paul Newman (right) confers with judge Milo O'Shea and opposing counsel James Mason in "The Verdict" (1982).
Another Broadway adaptation directed by Lumet was the Ira Levin comedy-thriller "Deathtrap" (1982), starring Christopher Reeve and Michael Caine.
Lumet examined the role of political consultants in "Power," starring Richard Gere and Gene Hackman.
In "Running on Empty" River Phoenix played a pianist who tries to make a life for himself apart from his fugitive parents, who are hiding under false identities owing to their Vietnam War-era protest activities.
Matthew Broderick and Sean Connery in "Family Business" (1989), which also starred Dustin Hoffman.
Timothy Hutton and Nick Nolte in "Q&A."
A less common police procedural: Melanie Griffith as a New York cop who goes undercover in the city's Hasidic Jewish community to investigate a murder in "A Stranger Among Us."
Richard Dreyfuss as an attorney trying to protect his client - an accused cop killer - in "Night Falls on Manhattan" (1996). Andy Garcia played the prosecutor.
Sharon Stone stars as a moll out to protect a child (Jean-Luke Figueroa) from the mob in "Gloria," Lumet's 1999 remake of the John Cassavetes thriller.
Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Albert Finney in "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" (2007).
Director Sidney Lumet on the set of "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead." Lumet received four Academy Award nominations for Best Director (and a screenwriting nomination for "Prince of the City"), and received an honorary Oscar and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Directors Guild of America.