Two Magnificent New Yorkers: Sidney Lumet, Joan Micklin Silver

Feb 18, 2021 | Newsletter

“New York makes up for its hazards and its deficiencies by supplying its citizens with massive doses of a supplementary vitamin—the sense of belonging to something unique, cosmopolitan, mighty and unparalleled” —E.B. White, Here Is New York

Sidney Lumet (June 25, 1924-April 09, 2011)
Lumet was born in Philadelphia but was raised in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. His parents were veterans of the Yiddish theater. His began his career directing original TV films for Playhouse 90 and the Kraft Television Theatre. He developed an energetic style shooting quickly and always under budget. Film critic Owen Gleiberman wrote that “Lumet favored the working class. He captured that New York vibe like no one else because he saw it, lived it, breathed it.” Biographer Joanna Rapf observed that Lumet “liked to make films about men who summon courage to challenge the system, about the little guy against the system.” For Lumet, New York was filled with reality; Hollywood was a fantasyland. Lumet was nominated five times for an Oscar and never won. The Academy, in a rare moment of wisdom, gave him an Honorary Oscar in 2005.

Here are three quintessential Sidney Lumet films:

The Pawnbroker

Sol Nazerman is a Holocaust survivor. His two children died…

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Serpico graduates from the police academy filled with optimism and pride….

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Dog Day Afternoon

Sonny is determined to get enough money so his male lover, Leon, can get the sex-change operation…

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Joan Micklin Silver (May 24, 1935-December 31, 2020)
Like Sidney Lumet, Joan Micklin Silver was a marvelous New York filmmaker. But unlike Lumet, she faced a huge hurdle—she was a woman. Starting out as a director in the ’70s, she was told by a studio executive, “Feature films are very expensive to mount and distribute and women directors are one problem we don’t need.” Her husband, Raphael, a real estate developer, became involved with Joan’s film career out of frustration with the opportunities he saw her being denied.

Despite limited financing, they managed to produce these three gems:

Hester Street

Jake, an immigrant from Eastern Europe, has settled in a tenement in New York…

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Between the Lines

Staff members working at the alternative Boston weekly, The Back Bay…

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Crossing Delancey

Isabelle “Izzy” Grossman is a 30-ish, attractive, smart woman, who has a dream job working…

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Coming Soon, Can’t Wait

Opening TBD, 2021: Netflix. Diana: A Musical
March 2021: Amazon Prime. Coming 2 America. Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones– back again.

Commemorating African American History Month: Quotes By Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The silence of good people is more dangerous than the brutality of bad people.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking the cup of bitterness and hatred.”

“Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.”

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.”

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

“The quality, not the longevity of one’s life, is what is important.”

“He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.”

“Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”

“True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

“I’ve been to the mountaintop. I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know that we as a people will get to the promised land. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

His “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech was delivered at the Mason Temple on April 3, 1968. He was tragically prescient. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated the following day.


My best,

Elliott Kanbar
T 917-439-3364


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