Masterpieces are films that come to you by accident
The drama of the courtroom has provided the backdrop to many a TV episode or film, but few have focused on the deliberations of the jury as exclusively as the film 12 Angry Men.
The 1957 movie, starring Henry Fonda, was Sidney’s first from the director’s chair. It’s widely acclaimed as one of the best directorial debuts of all time, as well as one of the greatest films ever made.
The American director was modest about his achievement. “All great work is preparing yourself for the accident to happen” he said.
Sidney later returned to courtroom drama for The Verdict starring Paul Newman, but he enjoyed many successes outside of this realm, too. Among his famous box office hits were crime thriller Dog Day Afternoon and corruption drama Serpico, both starring Al Pacino.
In 2007, Sidney directed Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke in his last movie, Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead.
His films earned 14 Oscar nominations and although he never won a coveted statuette, he later received an Academy Honorary Award in recognition of his work.
“One of the greatest directors in the long history of film,” reflected Steven Spielberg when Sidney died.