Daniel, dear fellow movie lovers, is my favorite movie of all time.
I can barely list all the reasons why I love this movie. I have
recommended it to many people, and frankly no one has basically reacted
to it as enthusiastically as i have.
But guess what, I don't care. This movie resonates with me. Thanks to
E.L. Doctorow, Lumet provides us -- specifically -- with a devastating
examination of the nature of political martyrdom and its effect on the
martyr's family. We look at the critical intersection between family
Beyond the scorching power of the plot and the highly ambitious story
line, the Daniel cast is superb and they play their roles to tremendous
effect, with a couple of minor exceptions. I don't remember how Paul
Isaacson was portrayed in Doctorow's novel, but the casting of the
powerful and macho Mandy Patinkin as the Pauly character directly
modeled on Julius Rosenberg (who at least from his photos appeared to
be nebish-y and not projecting any degree of the virility Patinkin
offers) was perfect. What a wonderful liberty Lumet took.
First-rate acting also comes from the tortured siblings Timothy Hutton
and Amanda Plummer, plus Ed Asner, Lindsay Crouse, Tovah Feldshuh,
Ellen Barkin and numerous supporting players.
The target audience for Daniel, perhaps, is the person who (like me) at
some time(s) in their life has allowed political action to become more
important than ostensible self-interest or family interest. Unless you
have personally had this experience, I am guessing you will relate less
to this movie.
But please don't let that stop you! This is a martyr movie I am sure
many non-martyrs can enjoy.
I can rattle off no less than a half dozen scenes that I consider
timeless and priceless. Don't get me started.
OK, I relent. I will say that the Peekskill riot scene is memorable and
special. Every time I am on a bus, and it makes a turn or goes through
the woods or whatever or whatever, I think of this scene. The scene's
intense crucifixion/climax is excruciating to watch.
And the kids' return to the shuttered Bronx apartment -- and attorney
Ed Asner explaining to the befuddled aunt that, 'Lady, these people are
in trouble!' -- and the Union Square rally -- and the Sing Sing scene
-- and omigod the Paul Robeson score -- and and and and...
When Lumet got his special Oscar a yr or so ago i thought, oh good,
finally, the world will hear about Daniel, my #1 movie. But I was
deflated when it got mentioned maybe not at all or at best in passing.
Some newspaper movie critics covering the award, alluded to the
'underrated' Daniel. Sigh ****.
Well, dear friends, lemme just say that 'underrated' is a gross
exaggeration. In my mind, I cannot overrate this movie.
Thus -- I exhort all IMDb people to watch this movie, get past the
early Patinkin Russian folk dance scene in the apartment, and stay with
it! I hope you will begin to appreciate Daniel just half as much as I
And thank you, Sidney Lumet.