Film Greats: Sidney Lumet’s ‘12 Angry Men’ (1957)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Edwin Pereyra, Nov 28, 2001.

  1. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    The first time I saw this film a while back, I watched it twice on the same day. That’s how impressed I was.
    As the title suggests, the film is the story of twelve jurors who deliberate the fate of a young man charged with murder. There are some very familiar names in the cast including Henry Fonda, Martin Balsam, Lee J. Cob, Jack Klugman and Jack Warden, among others.
    The entire story takes place inside a jury room and that is what’s so fascinating about this film. It captured my attention throughout its entire 96-minute running time with almost no change in scenery. I credit this to everyone involved in the production. This is a well-written and well-acted film. There is hardly any wasted dialogue. Each line that is delivered is critical into getting the plot to move forward or to give us an insight into each of the twelve different jurors. The interaction between each of the characters is captured so well using various camera shots that each of the twelve personalities becomes an element of interest in the film itself.
    The film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay but did not win any. The Bridge On The River Kwai went on to win Best Picture that year. But somehow, I prefer this simple but emotionally charged film by Sidney Lumet (Dog Day Afternoon, Network) rather than the more grand and epic film by David Lean.
    12 Angry Men gives us a side of the legal system that is rarely shown in today’s courtroom dramas. When determining whether someone is guilty, at times, it may be necessary to become subjective in order to be objective.
    - - -
    Film Greats – A continuing quick look at motion pictures that, in one way or another, have been called “great films” by some. Other Films In This Series: Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show : William Wyler’s Dodsworth : Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo : D. W. Griffith’s Broken Blossoms
    ~Edwin
     
  2. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    I agree this is a great film, but having just woke up, I don't have anything more detailed to add at the moment. [​IMG]
     
  3. Dave L

    Dave L Stunt Coordinator

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    Excellent film, adapted from an earlier TV version. What is especially good about Lumet's direction is that, while all the action takes place on a single set, the jury room, the audience doesn't get bored. While the viewer feels the sense of claustrophobia that the jurors feel and the stuffiness and heat of the room, the direction and performances hold the viewers' attention throughout.

    And what a cast! It's rare to see 12 distinguished actors in the same film, all in peak form. Definitely belongs on any collector's shelf.
     
  4. Tom-G

    Tom-G Screenwriter

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  5. Darren H

    Darren H Second Unit

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    Three of my favorite character actors -- Lee J. Cobb, E. G. Marshall, and Martin Balsam -- just chewing up scenes together. Cobb's breakdown near the end is one of my favorite film moments. I also have to commend Lumet for making such effective use of Fonda's, um, understated (boring) acting style. It actually works to serve this film well.
     
  6. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    So I gotta ask: how's the DVD for this movie? I see it's one of those "Classic Cinema" banners and costs $14 at most places. Did they treat it right on DVD, transfer-wise? At that price I doubt there's many (if any) extras but that won't matter to me.
     
  7. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

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    MGM's DVD is non-anamorphic 1.66:1 but is a nice transfer and the print is in good shape. It looks better than Some Like It Hot.

    And put me down for everything Darren said. We performed this in high school English, but I can't remember who I played.
     
  8. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    My only complaint about the DVD transfer is that it is non-anamorphic. The topic of anamorphic transfers for 1.66:1 films has been debated here before, but since I own a 16x9 TV, I would definitely have preferred anamorphic. Otherwise, the transfer was quite good for this fine film.
     
  9. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

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    With such a venerable line-up of films, it takes a great, great film to stand atop the hill of Lumet. 12 Angry Men is Lumet's finest film. Understated to a simplistic perfection, every nuance of every character is portrayed to a gripping level. To watch these great actors bounce their personalities and quirks off each other and the way Lumet uses so many tight shots of their faces as they do it, is awesome. Everything, everything, everything about this film exudes triumph. The thing that makes it so compelling is it's never preachy. It just shows how easy it is to be rational...or irrational.
    12 Angry Men [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Bruce
     
  10. Darren Hayward

    Darren Hayward Auditioning

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    I agree, this was a brilliant movie.

    I really enjoyed it for the most part.

    Did anyone else feel however the last couple of guys to swing, particularly the guy who had the photo of his son, seemed a bit rushed and hammy?

    It just felt a bit overacted I guess?

    Anyone else have a similar feeling?

    Darren
     
  11. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

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    Darren,

    I didn't really view the "turning" of Juror #3 (Lee J. Cobb) all that rushed. Remember, he was a hot head. He was a very emotional person, one prone to flying off the handle very easily. To me, that said he was a weak and fragile person who resorted to tantrums and yelling to hide the insecurities. When everyone else turned and he was all alone against the other 11 jurors, he just gave up. He wasn't a leader...he was a follower. As long as there were others to back up his theory, he would fight tooth and nail to preserve it. When those supporters vanished, his weak nature and inability to withstand criticism pushed him to go with the crowd. If it had been a long, dragged out fight (when he was alone) to get him to turn, I think it would've been less dramatic. Lumet uses the subtle points of how he was relying on others to carry his torch for him brilliantly. Therefore, his turning and breakdown were perfectly played out.

    Bruce
     

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