Full Episode
By Sidney Lumet

Prolific and versatile filmmaker Sidney Lumet (1924-2011) made 44 films in 50 years, earning the Academy Honorary Award for lifetime achievement after four Oscar nominations. Considered a quintessential New York filmmaker, Lumet frequently used New York City’s urban mettle to infuse his films with a realism and intensity that kept audiences in suspense while prodding them to consider their own morality.

In American Masters: By Sidney Lumet, he tells his own story in a never-before-seen interview shot in 2008 by late filmmaker Daniel Anker and producer Thane Rosenbaum. With candor, humor and grace, Lumet reveals what matters to him as an artist and as a human being.

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-Next on 'American Masters,' filmmaker Sidney Lumet... -You're gonna know everything there is to know about me.

-...a storyteller and straight shooter.

-Question authority.

-Sidney Lumet in his own words, now on 'American Masters.'

♪ -Just remember that this has to be twelve to nothing either way.

That's the law.

Okay, are we ready?

Now, all those voting guilty, please raise your hands.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven.

Okay, that's eleven guilty.

Who's voting not guilty?

One. Right.

Eleven guilty, one not guilty.

Well, now we know where we are.

-Oh, boy, oh, boy. There's always one.

[ Laughs ] -Well, what do we do now?

-I guess we talk. -Boy, oh, boy.

-You really think he's innocent?

-I don't know.

-On this one day, just outside of Calcutta, as a train was pulling out of the station, and they were those British kinds of cars with the center aisle, entrance on either side, but also individual compartments opening up with their own doors.

And I was looking out the window and there was this little girl, I guess she was about 12, standing on the platform, and then the car behind me, a GI, I don't know who, reached out and swept her off the platform and pulled her into the -- into the compartment that he was riding in.

And... I was so shocked, I couldn't believe it.

And... then wrestled with it for a moment, then got up, and started making my way to the car behind me and pulled that door open and there was a guy like that blocking him.

And there were a bunch of GIs [bleep] her, you know, just passing her from one to the other in the compartment, and paying for it.

And... and the guy said, 'You want some?

It'll cost you' whatever.

And I said, 'No,' and then the whole wrestle with, 'Do I do anything about this?'

I'm not directing the moral message.

I'm directing that piece and those people.

And if I do it well, the moral message will come through.

[ Siren wailing ] -This is Car 2118.

Call Greenpoint Hospital and tell them we're bringing in a wounded cop.

-All right, 10-4, 10-4.

[ Telephone ringing ] -8th Precinct.


Jesus Christ.

[ Hangs up phone ] Guess who got shot?


-You think a cop did it?

-I know six cops said they'd like to.

-I wouldn't deny that 'morality' in my movies for anything.

I know it's there.

The difference between what we're talking about is you think it's a conscious choice and I say it's an unconscious choice.

I don't pay any attention to it.

I had no hint whatsoever that I wanted to do movies.

I'm -- I've got a very... happy disposition, that as long as I'm at work, I'm perfectly content.

I would've been completely happy to spend the rest of my life in television.

I'm glad it went in another direction, 'cause I had a much better and bigger canvas to work on, but it wasn't a necessity at all.

If you talk to anybody who's had any sort of career in, I don't know about other professions, but in our profession, the biggest single word you'll hear repeated over and over again is 'luck.'

-[ Chatter ] -You did a wonderful job! Wonderful!

-On one of the shows that I was doing, a show called 'Danger, which was a good melodrama, Tuesday nights 10:00 to 10:30, we had found a very good writer by the name of Reginald Rose.

Reggie wrote '12 Angry Men.'

It was done on -- I believe it was Philco on NBC and had been a successful television show.

When he had the offer to make it a movie, he jumped at it.

The offer came from Henry Fonda, who was producing at that time, wanted to start producing his own movies.

And here again, luck came into it.

I had been working with Reggie on live television stuff.

We liked each other enormously.

And he said to Hank, 'Listen, you know who I'd love to have direct this?'

Mentioned me.

Before I had gotten into television, I was running a workshop down in the Village.

It was called the Actors Workshop.

Two of the people in the workshop, there were about 40 of us, were in 'Mister Roberts,' in which Henry Fonda was starring in New York.

And so they asked him to come down and see this play, they both had parts in it.

And he came, so when Reggie came to him with my name, he said, 'Oh, yeah, I saw something off-Broadway of his.

It was good, it was damn good. Fine, take him.'

That simple.

I didn't have to audition, I didn't have to have a discussion with anybody.

United Artists, which put up the money, they were totally courageous about giving directors their first movie.

And off we went.

It was -- I didn't even have to meet and say what my vision was of the -- I'm laughing at that, because that's, of course, the great cliché. 'What's your vision of this movie?'

-Walter Cronkite reporting, 399 B.C.

In Athens, Greens, the Hellenistic world is awaiting the climax of the trial in condemnation of the philosopher Socrates.

Before the sun goes down today, Socrates must, according to Athenian law, perform his own execution and drink the poison hemlock.

We take you now to Athens outside the prison, where Socrates is being held.

All things are as they were then except... -You are there.

-This is Harry Marble.

We are watching the sinking sun here and counting the minutes in the waning light.

Just behind that wall is the cell in which Socrates is awaiting the end.

-I had moved into television in the early '50s, and that was so exhilarating, the thrill of, number one, a place to work, and a place to work steadily.

-Citizen Aristophanes, one moment.

Do you think there is any chance that Socrates might yet be saved?

-I hope that he will. I think that he will not.

But valuing what is most precious to me, my greatest concern at the moment is to protect myself.

-I mean, I was doing, at one point, 60 or 70 shows a year.

Now, even if you take a small average of, let's say, six actors a show, but the cast, certainly on 'You Are There,' were more than that.

So let's see, six times... 6 times 70 is 420 actors, different actors to work with in a year's time.

God knows how many different writers, production people, video engineers, audio men.

The exposure was brilliant.

-Citizens! I must be heard!

I invoke a hearing! -That is Meletus speaking now.

He was the main accuser at the trial.

-In the marketplace, there are people who are calling for my life, the same people who urged me to accuse Socrates!

Now, is this justice? Is this reason?

I did not want Socrates to be condemned to death!

I thought he would be fined as I would've been, and gladly paid it had the jury found my accusations false!

But where are you now, those of you who voted against Socrates?

Why don't you defend me?

I did my duty as a citizen!

I spoke for Athens, for democracy!

-I don't understand you people!

I mean, all these picky little points you keep bringing up.

They don't mean nothing!

You saw this kid just like I did!

You're not going to tell me you believe that phony story about losing the knife and that business about being at the movies?

Look, you know how these people lie.

It's born in them.

I mean, what the heck? I don't have to tell you!

They don't know what the truth is!

And let me tell ya, they don't need any real big reason to kill someone, either.

No, sir. They get drunk.

Oh, they're real big drinkers, all of them.

You know that.

And bang, someone's lying in the gutter.

Well, nobody's blaming them for it.

'That's the way they are, by nature.'

You know what I mean? Violent!

Where are you going?

Human life don't mean as much to them as it does to us.

Look, they're -- they're lushing it up and fighting all the time, and if somebody gets killed, so somebody gets killed! They don't care!

Oh, sure, there's some good things about 'em, too.

Look, I'm the first one to say that.

I've known a couple who were okay, but that's the exception, you know what I mean?

Most of them, it's like they have no feelings.

They can do anything!

What's going on here?

I'm trying to tell ya.

You're making a big mistake, you people.

This kid is a liar. I know it. I know all about them.

Listen to me. They're no good.

There's not a one of 'em who's any good.

I mean, what -- what's happening in here?

I'm speaking my piece and -- you -- Listen to me.

I -- We're -- we're... This kid on trial here, his -- his type, well -- well, don't you know about them?

There's -- there's a danger here.

These people are dangerous.


Listen to me.

Listen. -I have.

Now sit down and don't open your mouth again.

-Some of the time... I tell you... -If you... ask me specifically, 'When you did '12 Angry Men,' were you interested in the justice system?'

Absolutely not.

I was interested in doing my first movie, and I was very impressed that Henry Fonda wanted me to direct it, because he had seen something I had done off-Broadway.

It was the most obvious motives.

'12 Angry Men,' I think it changed the law in England.


That isn't why I did it.

I wasn't out to change the law in England.

-Well, this is Miss Lovelace, Miss Eva Lovelace.

She's come all the way from Vermont to see you.

-How do you do, Miss Lovelace?

-Did you have a part for me, Mr. Easton?

I would like to start my career under your management, because I reverence the things you've done in the theater.

When you brought 'The Old Vic' over, I wanted to give up 'Death of a Salesman' to come here and see them.

But then we couldn't find a replacement, so I couldn't.

-Well, where'd you do 'Salesman'? -In Vermont. -Oh.

-All I was ever interested in was the next job, you know, and when I got it, that was heaven.

-[ Shouting ] [ Wolf whistles ] -[ Shouting continues ] -Final call for the... -So glad you could make it, doll.

So glad you could make it.

-All aboard!

[ Horn blows ] -Come on, Kelly!

-She wouldn't let me go!

[ Horn blows ] -I don't think there's really any conflict between being really dirt-poor and having a good time.

-Tap-tap, Blacky, five, six, seven.

Come on out, Blacky!

Tap-tap, Blacky, one, two, three!

Tap-tap, Pudding Head! Come on out, Pudding Head!

I got you! You're behind the barrel!

Tap-tap, Pudding Head, one, two, three!

Tap-tap, Payo, one, two, three!

Come here, Payo! Come on, right back there!

-You don't know that you're dirt-poor at the time, and that's just the norm.

Having a quarter of a pound of boiled meat shredded into two pounds of potatoes to feed the family is -- that's the way you ate meat.

Everybody around me lived the same way, so again, that was the norm.

So you're going along and... and living your life and then all of a sudden, this other exciting thing comes in, which is work and creativity.

[ Commotion ] -If that kid would only drop that junk in his... -All right, stay back!

[ Crowd screaming ] -It was all about feeding a family.

During the Depression, my sister and I shared a bed I think till I was about 11.

You buy clothes that are too big for you so you can grow into them.

You did have a toilet, you did not have a bathtub.

You bathed in the -- in the kitchen.

It would be the sink and the wash basin and that's what you used as a bathtub.

This was every poor kid's life.

When the problem is that desperate, everything else is a luxury.

Morals. To hell with unfair.

You know, that great line of Brecht's from 'Threepenny Opera,' 'First feed the face, then tell me right from wrong.'

That says it.

-[ Laughs ] They're gonna get ya. Do you hear?

They're gonna tear you down.

[ Laughs ] How do ya like that, old stink pot?

-My father read me 'Hamlet' in Yiddish before I ever heard it in English.

He was a wonderful actor.

During the Depression, my father was doing a Jewish soap opera.

We had a radio station, WEVD, which stood for, by the way, Eugene V. Debs, because so many -- so much in Jewish life was involved with socialism.

And 15 minutes, five days a week.

And he wrote it, whatever directing there was to do with it.

My mother was in it, I was in it.

I was five.

He played two parts.

35 bucks a week, and that got us through the Depression.

That fed us.

Glad to have it.

And the show was a tremendous hit.

And having a big hit, then my father started, as so many other Jewish actors did, would rent a theater for two weeks before Passover and through the Passover week and wrote a dramatization of the characters in the radio show, in the soap opera, called -- it was called 'The Brownsville Zayde,' which means 'The Grandfather from Brownsville.'

-[ Man singing in Yiddish ] There were 12 Jewish theaters on 40-week seasons.

That -- that's extraordinary.

And I'm talking about big theaters.

I mean, the theaters I acted in as a kid, they sat 1,800 people.

It was a remarkable life it in itself and my being in it.

When I was in it, it was already on the downhill side, past its glorious days.

And its glorious days happened really because of the enormous Jewish population in New York.

-If you weren't my son, there's not a manager in the business who would give you a part, your reputation stinks so.

As it is, I had to humble my pride and beg for you, say you've turned over a new leaf, although I know it's a lie.

-I never wanted to be an actor.

You forced me on the stage. -That's a lie.

You left it to me to get you a job and I've no influence except in the theater.

-When the Jewish theater was coming to an end, my father already -- his mind was racing, he was a survivor.

And, oh, I know what, maybe if Sidney's talented, maybe if I bring him up to Broadway, there'll be something there.

I was considered one of the two best kid actors on Broadway, so I worked all the time.

Between 'Dead End' and when I enlisted in the Army, I did 14 Broadway plays.

That's a lot.

It also shows that they were mostly flops.

But I worked all the time.

And worked in radio, where the checks were really terrific.

I wasn't a star, it was just work that I loved, that I adored.

It kept me off the streets.

People always worry about kid actors.

There's nothing wrong with being exposed to creativity as soon as possible.

My father taught me about work.

You work, and the discipline of work and the lack of self-indulgence in work.

Also the preparation for trouble in show business.


Maybe life overdid the lesson for me and made a dollar worth too much, and that mistake ruined my career as a fine actor.

I've never admitted this to anyone before, lad, but tonight I'm so heartsick, I feel at the end of everything, and what's the use of fake pride and pretense?

That goddamn play I bought for a song and made such a great success in -- a great money success -- it ruined me with its promise of an easy fortune.

-The sight of my father in the instances where he had rented the theater himself, which took a money-upfront deposit, nonreturnable, and would look out, and if the house wasn't good, to now have to go through the show knowing that he wouldn't even make the rent back, much less the salaries for the other actors who were performing, it had a sense of catastrophe about it, really.

'Long Day's Journey Into Night' is a story of a family, four people.

[ Playing piano ] The father is a steady, steady drinker, but at least has worked in his lifetime.

And the father has a wonderful, wonderful, sad, heartbreaking problem.

-By the time I woke up to the fact that I'd become a slave to the damn thing and did try other plays, it was too late.

They had identified me with that one part and didn't want me in anything else.

They were right, too.

I'd lost the great talent I once had through years of easy repetition, never learning a new part, never really working hard.

$35,000 to $40,000 net profit a season like snapping your fingers.

Yet before I bought the damn thing, I was considered one of the three or four young actors with the greatest artistic promise in America.

-At that time, one of the big Metro stars was a wonderful kid actor by the name of Freddie Bartholomew, English.

Did a lot of good movies.

They were having trouble with him 'cause his contract was up, and they were in the midst of a difficult negotiation.

I was appearing in a play and had gotten wonderful reviews and I was summoned.

Mr. Mayer wanted to meet me.

He was in New York.

And I went up and met the great man.

'How do you do?' 'How do you do?'

'Sidney, I saw you in the play last night and you were marvelous.'

On and on. And they offered me a contract, the point of the contract being to keep a threat to Freddie Bartholomew.

The contract was crazy.

Over the seven-year period, you got graduated raises until you were earning $750 a week.

My father kept upping it.

Whenever they offered a new contract, he'd agree, and then just before signing, he would say, 'No, I want some more.'

Finally, Freddie Bartholomew signed, and of course we were dropped the next day.

A year later, we walked into the... Cafe Royal, was it?

On 12th Street and Second Avenue, the great hangout for Yiddish actors, who were all very old now and all equally unsuccessful.

My father always had very stormy relationships with other Yiddish actors.

He was not the calmest of men nor the gentlest.

A bunch of his enemies were seated at another table.

Remarks started up and back.

And finally he got very angry and he got up, walked to the other table, and from his pocket -- now, mind you, this negotiation had been dead for a year now.

This was a year later.

Pulled Metro's last offer from his pocket and said, 'Listen, you bastards. We've got this.

I can go to Hollywood any time with my son, so...' You know, this deal was over.

It was by now a sheer figment of his imagination.

I don't know whether he imagined that it was still on.

He couldn't have, 'cause that would've been insane.

But the humiliation that I felt for him at having to do that was... -I'll play chess with the other inmates.

We put the -- make our boards and our chess men out of paper and then we shout the moves.

See, I always thought chess a waste of time, and it is.

It's a terrible waste of time. Time, it's valuable.

And you can put innoc-- you can put innocent people to jail, but you can't put their minds in jail.

You understand? What's wrong?

I burn you? Look here, it didn't fall.

The ash is still here, you see?

Don't worry. I won't hurt my boy.

They are the ones with the minds in jail.

But you can't put innocent people to death in this country, 'cause it can't be done. You'll see.

Public opinion will get behind this.

You'll see, my handsome boy, you, you, you.

-I taught you.

I taught you, we cannot break rank.

A unit is only as good as its weakest link.

We're a unit!

I taught you all of this, don't you remember that?

-She hated it when I barbecued.

I'm sorry I wasn't able to be what you wanted me to be.

I've never been very good at talking about feelings or showing you that kind of affection or support.

Well, I'm sorry... I wasn't able to be the father you wanted.

But I guess I wanted you to be better than me, and I thought that if I pushed... It may not mean anything to you, but I want you to know that I really do love you.

And I'm sor-- I'm sorry.

I'm just so sorry.

-I'm sorry I wasn't able to be the son you wanted.

-One of the automatic things about drama is family.

You're not going to get more father/son than 'Oedipus Rex' and you're not going to get more father/son than 'Hamlet.'

These are the perennial sources of drama -- father/son, father/mother, mother/son, mother/daughter.

-The stage has degenerated Irina Arkadina.

What giant oaks there were in the past.

Now we see only stumps.

-There are certainly fewer exceptional talents nowadays.

But on average, I think the standard is much higher than it used to be.

-Well, I can't agree with you.

However, it's a matter of taste.


-My dear boy. When do we start?

-In a moment. Have a little patience.

-'O Hamlet, speak no more.

Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul.

And there I see such black and grained spots as will not leave their tinct.'

-'Let me wring thy heart, for so I shall, if it be made of penetrable stuff.'

-One of the reasons I resist it being an especial characteristic of my work or anybody else's work is precisely because these are the automatic dramatic sources of stimulation, and have been right from the beginning.

-You haven't asked me what I found out this afternoon.

Don't you care a damn?

-Don't say that. You hurt me, dear.

-What I've got is serious, Mama.

Doc Hardy knows for sure. -Oh, that lying old quack.

I warned you he'd invent something.

-He called in a specialist to examine me.

-Don't tell me about Dr. Hardy. -To be absolutely sure.

-If you'd heard what the doctor in the sanitorium who really knows something said about how he treated me.

He said it was a wonder I hadn't gone mad.

I told him I had once, that time I ran down in my nightdress to throw myself off the dock.

You remember that, don't you?

-Yes. -And you want me to pay attention to what Dr. Hardy says?

Oh, no. -Listen, Mama.

I'm gonna tell you whether you want to hear it or not.

I've got to go away to a sanitorium.

-[ Gasps ] No!

-What can I say?

I would've loved to have been around... For the shot of Oedipus when he pulls his eyes out.

Talk about desperate.

I would love to have been there when Hamlet says, 'A hit, a very palpable hit,' knowing that he's going to die from what seems like a mere flick.

That's drama, and I do not shy way from it.

I think the past may have contributed to it by giving me that operatic sense by Herman Yablakoff singing the last act from 'Madame Butterfly' in Yiddish.

That taste is both my strength and my weakness.

-I see through you, lady. I see through you.

-What do you see? -You like me to tell you?

-I'd love for you to.

-I see a not-so-young, not-so-satisfied woman who hires a guy in off the highway to do double duty without even giving him overtime for it.

Being a store clerk by day and by night, you know... [ Snapping fingers ] Whatever you want to call it.

-You're cheap. -Hmm?

-What, you think you can slap me?

Who you calling cheap?

Who you calling cheap?

-[ Sobbing ] Why'd you come back? Why?

-To put back the money I took.

So you wouldn't remember me as... not being honest or grateful.




Val. Val, don't go.

I need you... to live... To go on living.

-I'm not afraid.

In fact, almost seek out confined physical areas to work in.

I don't know where it comes from.

I don't know whether it's because I'm a city rat, and in the city that's even as wide open as New York, it's basically a confined area.

I wouldn't know what to do with a Western.

I wouldn't know where to begin.

I never bought into the idea that a face is more interesting against a mountaintop than against a wall.

It never seemed to me to be so.

The face was what was interesting.

The mountain was going to be pretty much unchanged.

It probably comes from a limited visual palate in terms of the way I grew up, which were small rooms, tight areas.

I remember when we moved out to Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn.

Well, I'd never seen anything like that.

Cars instead of trucks, an island where you could sit under the trees, a four-lane street, another island, another single street.

That width, I'd never seen it before, and that was to me and to other Jews who moved there, it was our equivalent in the '30s and moving to suburbia, the great outdoors.

-Well, folks, what can I tell you?

You're all so smug in your certainty.

Well, let's see. We got over the Depression.

We got over Hitler!

-New York as a setting is capable of whatever mood or dramatic statement you want to make.

Architecturally, in its light.

Boy, talk about winter light as Mr. Birdman did.

New York's winter light is ravishing.

I'm not comfortable any place but New York.

When I leave New York for any other place in the United States, my nose starts to bleed.

-An announcement from the great and powerful Oz.

-I thought it over, and green is dead.

Till I change my mind, the color's red.

-We had a scene where Dorothy and the Scarecrow and the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion and Toto arrive in Oz, and I could think of no location in New York that I found more fantastic and that I thought would be worthy of being Oz than the World Trade Center.

When the World Trade Center first opened, it was attacked mercilessly architecturally.

The critics were tearing -- 'Oh, just these two big piles of concrete,' et cetera.

I found them beautiful.

So we decided to do Oz down there.

We had to add certain things for the dancers, this enormous platform which would change color, because, interestingly enough, photographically, green is a lousy color.

And we wanted to get to red or gold.

We worked there I think for four days and nights.

When 9/11 happened and I saw the second building come down, it really broke my heart, because I'd had a working relationship and I felt that that was my space.

-Hello, Dorothy.


Is there a way for me to get home?

-Well, Dorothy, you were wise and good enough to help your friends find what was inside them all the time.

That's true for you, also.


Inside me?

I don't understand.

-I don't know for most people, but the idea of 'There's no place like home' means -- I think if you've had a terrible home, then it's not a particularly wonderful thing.

I think one can find home in many different places.

I think that Baum meant it quite literally because he came from a simpler background, he came from a more bucolic background, and Dorothy herself was in a bucolic setting.

To try and apply it to urban living is dangerous, because in urban living, I don't know that the literal idea of 'There's no place like home' really works.

For me, the whole question of what was home, what is home, always has the same answer -- wherever I'm working.

Hello, I'm Sidney Lumet.

I'm the director of this production of 'The Dybbuk' that you're about to see.

It's a play that's very close to me.

My father appeared in it in I think it was 1927.

It's the first play that I ever saw in the Yiddish theater.

One of the reasons I rehearse and one of the reasons I shoot so fast is because of my training, because I came from the theater, because I came from live television.

In both of those, you have to make your dramatic selection in advance.

When you're doing a play, a point comes -- you may go into rehearsal this way or it may happen the end of the first week, the second week, but at some point, the director or somebody has to say, 'This is what this play is about, and now we channel everything into that one river.'

Very often, it has to be done in advance by the director, because by then you've committed to sets, you've committed to a color scheme, you've committed to costumes.

And all of those are part of, what is this play about, or what is this movie about.

So I automatically do that when I'm doing a movie.

I don't mean 'what is it about' in a plot sense, because that becomes -- that's self-evident.

But what is it about emotionally?

Can you... can you survive?

Can one survive... total destruction?

Where you are already dead.

That's a story of a man coming back to life.

And the only way he can start back to life is through pain.

The reason the Holocaust is unique is not that it was the first time that a population was killed.

That's happened throughout history.

But I think it was the first time that your next-door neighbor killed you.

Six million neighbors killed six million people.

There's a scene in the movie where he goes onto a subway car and the faces in the subway car are bringing him back to... his trip in the train in the car on the way to Auschwitz.

And I just started to think of how my own memory works when I don't want to face something and there's a flash of it and a flash of it, and if it's strong enough, the flashes get longer and longer, and finally it will take over.

We just translated that literally into movie terms.

[ Metallic screeching ] -[ Baby crying ] -This whole approach was predicated on the fact that he did not want to remember, that he has spent all of these years blocking these memories out.

Needless to say, like all good things, it immediately became the property of Madison Avenue, and for the next four years, you could see nothing but -- they even had a phrase for it, 'subliminal advertising.'

Now, funnily enough, on 'Long Day's Journey Into Night,' I never did try to define it, the reason being that every once in a while, it's not going to happen often in your career, you have a text that is so great that if you try to say, 'It's about this,' if you try to define it as one thing... You're going to limit it.

The words are for the world.

The best thing you can do with that is just investigate it to such a point where you feel free to let whatever happens happen.

But that's on a great text.

If you try to do that on a very good text or a good text, you'll just have anarchy.

You can't leave it to define itself, because it won't.

So in selecting that definition and limitation, you are not only determining where you want to go emotionally but how you're going to get there.

In other words, it defines the style in which you're going to make the movie.



[ Sirens wailing ] -On 'Dog Day Afternoon,' here is a real-life incident and the actors all portraying real people to whom this actually happened.

The picture was about, hey, we're not these outrageous characters like Pacino's character.

These people are not the freaks we think they are.

We have much more in common with the freaks than we like to admit about ourselves.

Now, that immediately defined the way the movie was going to be done, because in order for that to be clear, the first obligation became, 'Hey, folks, this really happened.'

That means that nothing about it could feel like a movie, look like a movie.

It had to look as close to a live television transmission of action that was taking place right at that moment.

-♪ Lately, I been thinking ♪ About how much I miss my lady ♪ ♪ Now Marina's in a cornfield ♪ Riding in the daybreak -Which, in terms of real incident, actually happened.

Channel 5 had it on for four hours.

So it defines not only the inner life of the movie and what we're going to work on, actors and myself, but camera, clothes, the entire visual approach, in other words, the style of the movie.

It's a movie that I did not realistically, but naturalistically.

I very often make up a color palette for a movie.

And in certain cases, like 'Dog Day,' no palette.

Let it all be accidental.

Nobody had a costume made for that.

I asked all the actors to wear their own clothes.

Needless to say, on the outside, with 300 extras and 500 neighborhood people just hanging around and watching, there no control of the color, but I didn't want it.

I wanted it all accidental.

The thing that I think makes 'Dog Day' what it is is Pacino's performance, because it could very easily have degenerated into a sensationalist piece.

That was the thing I was most afraid of.

It is really not my job to try to estimate what an audience is going to think of.

All I can do is do the piece as best I can and hope that they come along with it.

I talked to the actors about that the first day of rehearsal.

I said to the cast, 'This is the only time I've got to talk about what's going to happen with this movie on a Saturday night at the Loew's Pitkin,' which was the fancy movie house in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn.

'I don't want a voice coming from the balcony, 'Hey, you fags!'

If that happens, we've done a lousy movie, and we've got to reach on a fundamental level into anybody watching this movie to make them aware of the humanity of these two men.'

Um... And I couldn't have had a better person to unearth that feeling than Pacino, because he's like an open wound up there.

-[ Sighs ] Um... 'Being of sound mind and body...' You know, I want to put the... Um... 'To my darling wife, Leon...' 'Whom I love... more than any man has loved another man in all of eternity...' 'I leave... $2,700 from my $10,000 life-insurance policy...' 'To be used for your sex-change operation.'

Uh... 'If there is any money left over...' 'I want it to go to you at my first -- at the first anniversary of my death at my grave.'

Oh... 'To my wife, to my sweet wife, Angela...' '5,000 from the same policy.'

'You are the only woman that I ever loved.'

-I do feel very good about what I can get other people to do, and it's never through manipulation.

By the way, there's no right or wrong in this.

Kazan, who was, God knows, a great director was very exploitive of the actors in the sense that he would quickly discern where their neuroses lay and then play on that as part of getting the performance.

With some actors, not all.

But I've seen him do it.

I could never do something like that.

I'd rather let the performance go.

Okay, so we -- I get it by knowledge of their craft and empathy to them as human beings.

-Is it my dad? -Mm-hmm.

-[Sobbing] Oh, God.

It's not fair! It's not fair!

All my life I've been afraid of becoming like him.

All my life, all my life with you, and it's not fair!

He can't just say he's sorry and make it all go away.

It's too late. It's not that easy.

It's not fair!

It's not [bleep] fair!

Oh, Dad.

Oh, God.

He can't do that!

-All good work is self-revelatory.

The good actors, you know everything there is to know about them.

If I'm directing you, you're going to know everything there is to know about me.

I mean, my casts, at the end of the rehearsal period, know me.

I was a member of the Actors Studio, the original group that Bobby Lewis and Kazan began.

And I was thrilled, of course, because, like every actor, you want a place to work.

Americans were the best realistic actors in the world at that time, in movies and in the theater.

And I said, 'Look, realism, realistic acting is only one style.

It's got no superiority about it.

There are a million other styles that we need to know about.

I mean, how do you do Restoration comedy?

How do you do the Shakespearean comedies?

How do you do Oscar Wilde?'

And I got thrown out of the studio.

[ Laughs ] And it was a big shock.

It was a very, very... God-awful feeling.

And the only way to handle it was to form my own workshop.

The actors said, 'Sidney, as we work on scenes, it would be terrific if one of us could direct the scene.

So why don't we start with you directing them?'

And that's literally how I fell into directing.

I was a very good friend at that time with Yul Brynner, who was a marvelous guy and a director at CBS.

Television had barely begun, live tel-- drama.

And what most people don't know about Yul is that he was a terrific director.

I was also flat broke, and Yul said, 'Sidney, they don't know what the [bleep] they're doing.

Come on in, it's fun.'

-'The Alcoa Hour,' brought to you live from New York by Aluminum Company of America.

And now, for the best in Sunday evening drama -- -'Tragedy in a Temporary Town,' yeah.

'Tragedy in a Temporary Town' was about one of those communities that had been put up around a construction project in which the houses were trailer homes and about the insecurity of life there.

-I got half a plan here, I want to tell it to you.

Me and the boys have been talking outside there, right, men? -That's right.

-All right, number one.

We put guards around the whole area.

Nobody get in or out until we're finished.

Number two, we get a list of every man's name in the place over 15 years old and we get up a committee and we question each guy.

That committee will be you, Fisher, and two others.

We'll find this guy in a couple hours.

-And then we got some plans, too.

-All right, that's enough.

How about it?

-Well, I don't know, you know, if we can just go on out and -- -We're gonna stop him.

-Look, I tell you, Doran, you ought to call the police.

You can't run things like this. -Who can't?

-You can't. I mean, this kind of stuff is dangerous, taking over the law.

[ Shouting ] -This was a live show.

The climax took place in this outdoor field.

It's at night, which we did so that we could light it by just putting up simulated automobile headlights with him in the middle.

-I can see him better.

-And Lloyd Bridges, who was playing the lead, flipped out on-air.

-What are you gonna do? -I don't know!

I don't know! -He got so involved, so intense about it, he shouted, 'You sons of bitches, you!'

With tears coursing down his face.

And it was terrific acting, but it was disastrous live television because of the language he was using.

I never saw what went out on the air.

I was in the control room.

-Come on and get me, pigs! Come on!

You come to fight, well, I'll get you the fight!

-Come on, you pigs! You pigs! You pigs!

You pigs! Just look at yourselves.

That'll make you creep with shame.

You mob of dirty, thick-skulled pigs!

And all a sudden, you're the law!

Let me tell you something.

Every time that pigs like you mob together to become your own law, you crawl one step closer to the cliff!

Because what you did to him, someone'll do to you!

And it'll be your fault!

You hear?

It'll be your fault because you started it rolling!

And here's the beauty part.

When some other pigs come for you some time, it might not be because you did something wrong.

It might be for no reason at all!

-Blacklisting was creeping in.

And as we know from our recent past, we are capable of a very strong right wing in this country, and it was pervasive, all-pervasive.

Television had it tougher even than movies.

They were tough on CBS, because their real objective was to break the CBS News department, which, under Fred Friendly and Ed Murrow, they considered left wing.

And Paley, to his everlasting credit, said, 'You cannot touch the news department.

I don't care if you bring the network down.'

-Because a report on Senator McCarthy is by definition controversial, we want to say exactly what we mean to say, and I request your permission to read from script whatever remarks Murrow and Friendly may make.

-We on 'You Are There' found out that Murrow was going to do his McCarthy show.

And out of deep respect for Murrow, but also out of our own personal convictions, we thought, 'Well, we cannot leave him alone in this.'

So we decided to join the fray in the only way we could.

-A ferment of hysteria and fear has been seething in the little Massachusetts colony village of Salem.

Since spring, several villagers there have faced trial for witchcraft.

The accusations have all been made by a group of girls ranging in age from 9 to 20 who claim to be tormented and tempted by certain people, and they cry out on them as witches or wizards.

-Every single word was actual transcript of the trials.

People like to think Murrow's show mattered.

I don't think it did.

I don't think any art has ever made a raindrop's difference in a bucket of water.

-Remove the prisoner. -But I am innocent!

-'Fear' is -- it's accurate, but inadequate.

It was terror.

There were spies.

There were people getting up left and right, 'I saw him at a Communist party meeting!'

That happened to me, and it was a total lie.

My sponsor came to us and said, 'We're having a lot of trouble, Sidney.

You've been named in the on magazine as having attended a Communist party meeting and there's a big campaign on now for us to fire you, and we're not going to.'

About a month later, he said, 'Look, we can't fight the campaign anymore.

Would you be good enough to meet with them?'

And I didn't know, of course, who 'them' would be.

-You seem to be studied in the language of divine philosophy, sir.

-I studied two years for the ministry.

-Before studying for the Bar?

-I never studied law.

-Nor I, nor any of us. -But, gentlemen.

-We were appointed for our discretion and fidelity by Governor Phips of this colony, of which I have the honor of being deputy governor.

-I see. -And I remember walking up there, kind of nice, pleasant evening, and literally not knowing what I would do.

I didn't know whether I'd crawl.

I didn't know whether I'd behave 'well.'

I literally didn't know, because the whole career's on the line.

If this meeting doesn't go well, I'm out of work and out of work everywhere.

I remember feeling -- and this is why I've always had some sympathy for Kazan.

I was hoping desperately that a truck would round the corner quickly and solve the problem for me, 'cause the dilemma was so intense and the fear on both sides.

If I behaved badly, the fear of having behaved badly -- 'cause I knew what the process would be.

The process would be that if I said, 'Okay, that was me,' then they'd say, 'Okay, and who else?'

Because it never stopped. You know, they kept after you.

It was a sign of your good faith or not if you named names.

Finally I arrived somewhere on Park Avenue, and the doors open into the apartment, and I behaved 'well.'

I was so... filled with feeling by then, as I'm crossing the room into Mel's apartment, I was saying, 'You son of a bitch, what you --' And cursing and yelling at these two guys sitting there, whom I'd never seen before.

And one of them said, 'Relax, relax, don't get your balls in an uproar.

You're not the one.'

-Fascists are taking Europe, the world is dying, and you're playing Trotsky as politics.

There would be no Hitler today if not for Stalin.

True or not true? -That is simplistic.

-Where was Stalin when the United Front in Germany could have kept Hitler from seizing power?

Now you're all big anti-fascists.

-We're prepared to grant you your righteousness. What then?

-Remember how you broke up our meeting?

Your people threw chairs, I remember.

Yesterday we were social fascists, today we're your comrades.

-You're simplistic sectarian. -No, I'm not. I'm Jewish.

-Then maybe you'll explain to the Jews in Nazi concentration camps the fine points of your dialectic.

-What about Spain?

What about the Trotskyites in Spain?

-It was always called the Soviet Union, it was not called Russia, so as to distinguish it from czarist Russia.

This generation of people, including my mother, remember Cossack raids in which Jews were killed.

Among Jews, it was always called the Soviet Union with great respect because it was the hope of the future.

[ Music playing ] Anything about Stalin's crimes was denied.

It was capitalist propaganda.

The fact that it turned out to be true was deeply upsetting to a great many people.

There was a tremendous sense of responsibility, of taking care of each other.

And that mutual protection created a knowledge of dependency, which is, to me, a very moving idea.

'I am not alone.

I owe something to other people.'

And that communal sense explains a great deal about Jewish life in New York.

It's why it became very left wing.

Out of the social behavior emerged a political behavior.

It formed a basic reaction to injustice that's still part of me today.

-Cossack! -Look out!

-Cossack! Cossack!

-[ Shouting ] -Cossack!

-The Rosenbergs, the actual case was quite confusing because there were other left-wing radicals who were being brought up on various espionage charges.

The two of them seemed like your average left winger, New York left winger.

There was nothing -- there didn't seem to be anything exceptional in their lives.

I was shocked when the execution came, as everyone was, because this had never happened in the history of the country.

No one had ever been put to death for espionage in peace time.

The book of 'Daniel,' which is possibly, in my view, a great book, and the movie of 'Daniel,' which is, despite its failure critically and commercially, I still think one of the best pieces of work I've ever done.

-Please, get the children up there.

-The children!

-Daniel! -Let the children by!

-The children! The children!

-The plot was about Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and their two children, the consequences of their devotion to a political cause, and the consequences upon both children, with the sister dying and the boy in an endless pursuit of looking for a reason that the sister died.

-Here are the children!

-[ Cheering ] -[Chanting] Free them! Free them! Free them!

-It's a movie about what cost... Does the passion of the parents create in the rest of the family?

-♪ Someday ♪ From tears I shall be free ♪ For someday ♪ I shall understand -So, when that failed and the script of 'Running on Empty' came along, I was delighted, because I liked the script, but the main reason, that it was the exact same theme -- who pays for the passions of the parents?

It was about two '60s radicals who blew up a lab that was making napalm, and in the process, killed a night watchman who wasn't even supposed to be there and have now have been on the run from the FBI for umpteen years with their two children.

Maybe now we would get this theme out, because the story was much simpler.

The story was much more sentimental.

It was about a boy who wanted to be a pianist.

As you know, that failed also.

Looking back and saying, 'Boy, you really must have been on some sort of internal concern about what happened with your own kids in relation to you working so much.'

'You've never talked to them about it.'

I never have. I've never asked them, 'Did you feel deprived of me?

Did you miss me? Was I there for you?'

Even if I was physically there, which was an easy concession to make, 'Was I there? Was I there in attention and in heart and soul?'

I've never asked them that.

But I obviously sure have wondered about it.

-What's the matter with Dad? -He's just had a lot to drink.

-Plattsburgh, New York, July 16, 1944!

U. S. citizen!

I'm not -- -The Judd Hirsch character comes from '30s radicals and has '30s radicals values.

So he has imposed that culture on his family, and it's one of the sources of tension in the family.

-I want to stay.


-When he says, 'We cannot break up the unit, we cannot break up the family,' he means more than just father, mother, son, younger son.

He means, 'We cannot break up this cultural family, this cultural unity, this cultural giving, handing down of one value from one generation to the next.'

The value of radicalization as opposed to the value of art.

Radicals always have something to offer.

I'm not talking about fundamentalists.

I'm talking about radicals.

It's different words meaning different things.

And... And that is lost to our society and that's why nobody says anything.

-I want you to get up now.

I want all of you to get up out of your chairs.

I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell, 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not gonna take this anymore!'

-I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!

-I'm mad as hell! I'm not gonna take it anymore!

-I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!

-I'm not gonna take it anymore! -I'm not gonna take it anymore!

-I'm mad as hell! -I'm mad as hell!

-I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!

-I don't think 'Network' represented a change in attitude for me from the way I felt in the '60s to where I was now perceiving in the '70s, '80s, et cetera.

Uh... I think that we -- we grow up.

Being poor draws me to radical material.

I've been lucky I've been able to do movies about that kind of life rather than living that kind of life.

I did not do what a great many movie people did in the late '60s and early '70s.

I did not go down to Selma.

I did not go down to visit Martin Luther King in prison.

My activization stopped, really, with May Day marches, in which I would walk with Actors' Equity Association.

I, for me, did it in a more -- to me, more satisfying way, which was take it as subject matter.

I love 'Network' for the obvious reasons.

First of all, it's a hell of a good picture.

-I'm gonna blow my brains out right on this program a week from today.

-10 seconds to commercial.

-So tune in next Tuesday.

That should give the public-relations people a week to promote the show.

You're going to get a hell of a rating out of that.

50 share, easy.

-I knew that I would have a tough time in the studio system.

On the one hand, I was very, very headstrong.

Still am.

Um... but I didn't have final cut in those days.

And I know what would have happened, which was -- I would get into arguments and maybe even fights of some sort, and they could always take their revenge out in recutting the picture, and that is about as painful a thing I think for a director as anything that can happen.

-The business of management is management.

-I didn't have an adversarial relationship with Hollywood.

Look, if you know anything about movies, you know there's a hundred glorious years of rather wonderful work that's come out of there.

The department thing is what really bothered me.

I went to a production meeting with 26 people sitting around a table.

Now, of those 26 people, 20 of them were heads of departments who would never have anything to do with my picture.

They were never going to be on location.

They wouldn't come along. They'd never leave Hollywood.

And they would have an awful lot to say about it, including one man who was head of the animal department and who was going to ship me -- we needed about 200 horses -- he was going to ship me 200 horses from Hollywood to Virginia, the greatest horse-breeding state in the Union.

-I don't believe this.

I can't believe the top brass of the national television network is sitting around their Caesar salads -- -The top brass of a bankrupt national television network with projected losses -- -'Network' was about nothing but the men in suits, really.

Nobody in that movie is creative.

The most creative person in there is a lunatic.

-They'll kiss your ass if you can hand them a hit show.

-I don't think it was part of Paddy Chayefsky's intent and it certainly wasn't part of mine to needle the networks.

I think we were after bigger game, if I may say that.

For me, it was a question of corruption in the American spirit.

-Good morning, Mr. Beale.

They tell me you're a madman.

-How are you now? -I'm as mad as a hatter.

-Who isn't?

I'm going to take you into our conference room.

Seems more seemlier setting for what I have to say to you.

I started as a salesman, Mr. Beale.

I sold sewing machines and automobile parts, hairbrushes and electronic equipment.

They say I can sell anything.

-Clearly, 'Network' is not just about television.

'Network' is a metaphor for America.

-Valhalla, Mr. Beale.

Please sit down.

-One of the things that was so... blinding when I read that script was Paddy's prescience.

That is a scene where Ned Beatty reads the riot act to Howard.

He says, 'What's the matter with you, you idiot?

There is no city, country.

There's only one giant corporation.

Isn't that more true today than almost any other single factor?

Do you have any doubt?'

I mean, the insanity.

We are in a war. Men are dying.

Halliburton is cooking their meals?

And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that... perfect world in which there's no war or famine, oppression or brutality.

One vast and ecumenical holding company for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock.

-The power is never in conflict or in doubt.

-Gentlemen, this is the President of the United States.

Whatever orders I give to American personnel are to be considered direct orders from the commander-in-chief.

They are to be obeyed fully, without reservation, and at once.

We must do everything we can to prevent our planes from attacking Moscow.

The Soviet premiere has behaved as I believe I would under similar conditions.

He has delayed retaliation.

I think he believes this is an accident.

I therefore order every American to cooperate fully with Soviet officers in shooting down our invading planes.

Gentlemen, I expect you to conduct yourselves as patriots.

-Come on over, you two! Come on, move it!

Left, right, left, right, left, right, left, right, left, right!

-Roberts. -Sir.

-Your commanding officer gave you an order.

He ordered you to fight.

So you knocked his teeth out. Is that right?


-Is that all you've got to say?

-Sir, it's all I want to say.

-See that hill?

-I noticed it as I came in. -We built it special.

A few tons of sand and rock and a lot of labor and sweat.

Our prisoners built it.

-Well, that's marvelous, sir. It's a great construction feat.

-Something tells me you're going to get to know it well.

-I don't want any special privileges.

-Come on, march!

-'The Hill' is about a very heroic, well-seasoned fighting sergeant, British sergeant, who refuses to obey an order in a combat situation and gets court-martialed and sentenced to two years at this British stockade, which is a very rough place indeed.

By early December of '42, I was in the Army, and as miserable as it was -- and it was miserable -- the culture shock for somebody like me, who, despite my rough life, had never seen this kinds of roughness, it was, in many ways, as painful a time as I've ever had, and yet it was a time that I wanted.

Because of my eyes, I was what's called 'limited service,' but I desperately wanted to get overseas.

I very much resented the theater people that I knew who were spending the war at the Russian Tea Room.

They would get themselves assigned to various Army entertainment projects and never leave New York.

The terrible part was Army life, where the main object is... to reduce you to a common denominator so that you react -- all of you react the exact same way.

It took me so long to figure out why, when you had toilets, they couldn't put up stalls.

I'm not even talking about doors.

Just put up walls so that one toilet is separated from the other.

Unh-unh, they don't.

You take your dump next to another person taking their dump, and that is to destroy any sense of you're an individual.

-Order a first strike, General.

Put an end to it once and for all.

You have the power. You can do it!


You are talking treason.

Stop it now or I'll have you put under arrest.

-Yes, Marshal.

-Can do.

-Gentlemen, I am taking over command of this post.

By the direct authority of the president, I now command you to take all orders from -- -Colonel.

We've got orders, Colonel.

You make a fuss, we'll kill you.

-The mob mentality is precisely what the Army works on.

-[ Grunts ] -Me first.

-'The Hill,' it's about the hopelessness of fighting authority for anything other than your own conscience.

-Not guilty.

-I consider that fight for your individuality, for me, it's the essence of what a life should be about, what a good life should be about.

I think, not just the Army, everything conspires to crush your individuality.

-Hello, Frank. -Hey, Frank.


-All right, look. We all know what this is about, right?

So without any bull[bleep], Frank, what the hell was happening between you and Don Rubello?

-Simple. I -- I didn't take any money.

I don't take money.

Rubello said if I changed my mind, he'd hold my share, he'd give it back to me.

I didn't change my mind.

-Conniving bastard. -All right.

Look, I'll handle Rubello.

I'll get back the money he took.

But this ain't gonna happen again.

From now on, no more three bag men.

Starting today, every one of you [bleep] makes his own collections.

No stops, no bragging, okay?

-Okay. -Right. You got it.

-What about you, Frank?

I'll make up what Don took from you.

-Why should I start now?

-Everybody would feel a lot better about you, Frank.

-You can always give it to charity, Frank.

-Look, Frankie, what do you say?

$100 a month, just for expenses?

For my secretary and my business lunches, entertainment.

-All right. All right.

We split Frank's share from now on.

You're a schmuck, Frank.

-Question authority.

Uh... The -- whoever the schmuck was who said, 'Listen, let's take down the wall and bring that horse in!'

Uh... That's the idiot who should've been questioned before he took one brick down.

-Why didn't you tell him about Delaney Keller?

-Frank, this was a grand jury about police officers actively engaged in corruption.

You don't implicate people without sufficient evidence.

-Now that's crap, and you know it, because even a dumb cop like me knows a prosecutor can take a grand jury anywhere it wants to take it.

Now, you never let me anywhere near the real problems.

Nothing about the bosses, the brass, how corruption like this could exist without anybody knowing about it.

Now, a few flunky cops in the Bronx, that's it.

None of the [bleep] in Queens? Brooklyn? Manhattan?

-While you're at it, why don't you mention Kansas City?

-Well, the biggest thing since Harry Gross, that's what you said. -All right!

Look, Frank.

You've got guts, integrity.

There's gonna be a detective's gold shield in this for you.

-Now that's terrific.

That's good.

Maybe this is what it's all about.

Maybe I should take my gold shield and forget it.

-I know you've been through an ordeal, Frank.

-I'm a marked man in this department for what?

-I've already arranged the transfer for you.

-To where, China?

-I love characters who are rebels because... not accepting the status quo, not accepting the way it's always been done, not accepting that this is the way it has to be is the fundamental area of human progress.

And drama, God knows.

-Did you ever hear the story 'The Wise King'? -No, but I got the feeling I'm gonna hear it.

-[ Laughs ] Well, there was this king, and he ruled over his kingdom.

-Yeah. -And right in the middle of the kingdom, there was a well.

That's where everybody drank. -Mm-hmm.

-And one night, this witch came along and she poisoned the well.

-Ah. -Ah.

And the next day, everybody drank from it except the king, and they all went crazy.

Then they got together in the street and they said, 'We've got to get rid of the king, 'cause the king is mad.'


-[ Screaming ] [ Siren wailing ] -I'm not denying for a minute that I'm attracted to the radical, I'm attracted to the questioning.

I don't know if life is possible without it.

Serpico was certainly a radical.

One of the most interesting things about Serpico as a character to me is that he would've been the same pain in the ass no matter what his profession had been.

He was geared for overthrowing whoever was immediately over him, and the fact that he was a cop just made it exceedingly difficult and very dangerous.

With my generation of kids, you develop the sense of resistance.

You never went to them for help.

Any contact with the police, unless it was a murderous situation, was considered being a rat.

-And just get me where I can sit back.

It'll happen.

-Now remember, the antenna has to hang loose.

The battery pack, the transmitter, they're always problems. They're bulky.

If you're frisked, they're hard to hide.

[ Knocking ] -'Prince of the City.'

I did not know how I felt about Bob Lucy, the leading character in it.

In my bringing up, a rat is a rat.

Uh, Ben Gazzara and I used to talk about this.

In live television days, he was doing a show for me once, a live show, on Salvatore Giuliano, you know, the Sicilian bandit.

And at rehearsal, he told us about how he was walking -- how he was in the street talking, he was eight.

And a cop came over and asked him something, and he answered the cop, and he went upstairs, entered his apartment, and his father went, ia. Spy.

-I accuse that one! [ Spits ] -This rat! -Don't you call him that!

-What are you scared of? He is a rat!

He belongs in the sewer.

-And I was brought up that way.

So the fact that he ratted right away separated us.

Yet it's the first script that I co-wrote with the wonderful Jay Presson Allen, and I picked the name -- we had to give him another name -- and I picked the name Ciello, which in Italian means 'sky.'

So this ambivalence existed from the very beginning, and I did not know -- and I promise you this is the truth -- I did not know how I felt about him until I saw the first cut and I ran it after it had been all edited.

-What did you say your name was?


-Are you he Detective Ciello?

-I'm Detective Ciello.

-I don't think I have anything to learn from you.

-Oh, I made him a hero.

-[ Sighs ] 'The weak.'

The weak have got to have something you can fight for.

Ain't that the truth?

Want another drink? -Yeah.

-Jimmy. -Yes.

-See, that's why the court exists.

The court doesn't exist to give them justice.

The court exists to give them a chance at justice.

-Are they going to get it?

-They might.

They might.

See, the jury wants to believe.

I mean, the jury wants to believe.

It is something to see.

I've got to go down there tomorrow and pick out 12 of them.

And all of them, all their lives, think, 'It's a sham, it's rigged, you can't fight city hall.'

But when they step into that jury box -- and you can just barely see it in their eyes.

Maybe, maybe.

-Maybe what?

-Maybe I can do something right.

-I'm an attorney on trial before the bar.

Representing my client.

My client.

You open your mouth, you're losing my case for me.

-Now, listen to me. -No, you listen to me.

All I wanted out of this trial was a fair shake, okay?

Pushing me to court five days early, I lose my star witness, and I can't get a continuance, and I don't care.

I'm going up there, I'm gonna try it, I'm gonna let the jury decide.

You know, they told me about you.

Said you're a hardass, said you're a defendant's judge.

Well, I don't care.

I said to hell with it, to hell with it!

-In 'The Verdict,' Paul Newman plays a lawyer who's become an ambulance chaser.

He's a boozer, a bit of a womanizer, but doesn't even have much passion for that anymore, who gets involved in a case about a woman injured in an accident.

Somehow or other, this woman becomes more than the case and becomes a human being to him.

Because it's a human contact, it opens him up to a salvation of his own self, a case to care about, a client to care about, and in which he wants to win no longer for the money, but in which he wants to win for his own salvation.

In his summation to the jury, he doesn't tell them that in fact, but he tells them that in spirit.

-You know, so much of the time, we're just lost, saying, 'Please, God, tell us what is right.

Tell us what is true.'

There is no justice.

The... the rich win, the poor are powerless.

They become tired of hearing people lie.

And after a time, we become dead.

A little dead.

We think of ourselves... as victims, and we become victims.

We become... [ Sighs ] We become weak.

We doubt ourselves, we doubt our beliefs.

We doubt our institutions.

And we doubt the law.

But today, you are the law.

You are the law.

Not some book, not the lawyers.

Not a marble statue or the trappings of the court.

See, those are just symbols of our desire to be just.

Now, they are -- they are, in fact, a prayer.

A fervent and a frightened prayer.

In my religion, they say, 'Act as if you have faith.'

'Faith will be given to you.'

If... If we are to have faith in justice, we need only to believe in ourselves... And act with justice.

See, I believe there is justice in our hearts.

-Well, what about it? You're the only one.

-I have a proposition to make to all of you.

I'm going to call for another vote.

I want you 11 men to vote by secret written ballot.

I'll abstain.

If there are eleven votes for guilty, I won't stand alone.

We'll take in a guilty verdict to the judge right now.

But if anyone votes not guilty, we stay here and talk it out.

That's it.

If you want to try it, I'm ready.

-All right, let's do it the hard way.

-That sounds fair. Everyone agreed?

Anyone doesn't agree? -Fine, let's go.

-Here, pass these around.

-I don't think I have ever dealt with a situation of that brutality.

That -- that incident with the little girl on the train.

I knew that people could behave badly, but I didn't that people could behave that badly.

It was the kind of thing that I could have only envisioned in a book, but never could have envisioned actually happening, because it was a descent into a kind of bestiality, and I'll bet you ten-to-one these weren't beasts.

When they went home on leave, there was the sweet girl next door and every other cliché. I said, 'No,' and then the whole wrestle with, 'Do I do anything about this?'

And, of course, I didn't.

It's a kind of self-loathing that comes when you've done terrible things in your life.

I guess that's probably as bad as anything I've ever done.

And I went back into my compartment and sat down, and then when we got to the camp, the same compartment opened and this hand came out, and he put her down on the station platform.

Very gently, he didn't throw her or anything.

But that was it.

And, you know, it's clearly a situation that has stayed with me all my life.

I think that kind of heroic belongs in 'High Noon.'

I think that's a romantic movie version of life.

When you are standing there and... There are eight men around or nine men, all of whom are in one stage or another of sexual anticipation or sexual depletion, and if you think you're going to make a dent in that without getting thrown off the train, moving, you have to be ready to give up your life at a moment like that, and I wasn't.

I wasn't going to do that.

-Through my appearance here today, I hope that police officers in the future will not experience the same frustration and anxiety that I was subjected to for the past five years at the hands of my superiors because of my attempt to report corruption.

I was made to feel that I had burdened them with an unwanted task.

The problem is that the atmosphere does not yet exist in which an honest police officer can act without fear of ridicule or reprisal.

-I was constantly being attacked for not having a thematic line in the work and doing many different kinds of movies.

It's nonsense.

There was always a bedrock concern about, is it fair?

-In order to ensure this, an independent, permanent investigative body dealing with police corruption like this commission is essential.

[ Applause ] -So these complications... When enough of them exist over a long enough period of time, you look up one day, like I do, and my God, I'm 83.

Look how I spent my time.

I spent my time on a pendulum.

And the -- because nature is kind, the painful moments are not that painful and the joyful moments are not that joyful.

For me, it all flattens out a little.

And you know what? That's perfectly all right.

I did the other -- I did the peaks and the valleys, and... And you know what? You get used to that, too.

It's a bore.

What I have found out for myself, I'm not unique at all.

I'm lucky to have work that I care about and the opportunity to do it.

[ Train whistle blows ] [ Train whistle blows ]