Thursday January 7, 2010 00:15

Movie #0003 – 12 Angry Men (1957)

Posted by Michael

Not guilty-amundo
Directed by: Sidney Lumet
Starring: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Jack Warden
First Viewing

Synopsis: Twelve men enter a jury room to decide the fate of a man accused of murder. Eleven of them think he’s guilty; one thinks it’s not so clear-cut. It’s up to him to convince the others that the evidence isn’t as clear as they think.

I suppose I’m going to be saying this about a lot of the movies that I watch for this blog, but this is a film that I’ve been meaning to see for quite a while. I have a vague memory of being supposed to watch this for a class in high school; for some reason I missed the class and I never ended up seeing it. It’s been on my mental “to watch” list for pretty much as long as I can remember. Whether you’re a hard-core film buff or a casual movie-goer, I think we’ve all got that list of classic films that we’ve been meaning to see but just never got around to (I heard someone refer to this as a “list of shame”). So, here’s one to scratch off that list.

And boy, what a film. Superbly directed by Sidney Lumet (yes, the same Sidney Lumet who just a couple of years ago directed the acclaimed Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. The man is prolific), this is pretty universally regarded as a classic, and justifiably so. Aside from a couple of brief moments at the beginning and end of the film, we never actually leave the jury room. And yet the film never seems stagey, thanks entirely to Lumet’s assured and breathtakingly cinematic direction. Under a lesser director, the movie may have seemed like a filmed stage play, but Lumet always seems to know exactly where to put the camera in order to accentuate the tension and get the most out of all the great performances.

Those performances… as great as Lumet’s direction is (and it is great), this is definitely a film whose success depends heavily on its actors. All twelve men are equally good, with each creating a distinct and memorable character — an impressive feat, considering there are twelve men and this is only a 96 minute movie. And of course, mention must be made of Reginald Rose’s screenplay. This is just one of those rare cases of every element of a film coming together perfectly, creating a final product guaranteed to become a classic.

So yes, in case you couldn’t tell, I liked this film. Certainly, it deserves its placement on any list of essential films (unlike some movies I can think of…). Good stuff. Up next: Adam’s Rib.

Buy the movie at Amazon

1 Response to Movie #0003 – 12 Angry Men (1957)

Avatar

Oxdottir

January 8th, 2010 at 2:50 pm

I loved this movie. It was on my own list of must sees until a few years ago when I watched it. I wish there were more movies like this today. I look forward to seeing your progress in this list, because so far your opinions are close to mind. Perhaps you will find wonderful movies for me!

Comment Form