Saturday, January 03, 2009

#87: 12 Angry Men (1957, Sidney Lumet, director)

Sidney Lumet is a critically acclaimed legend. My first experience seeing a film I knew was one of his came in 2007, when I saw Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. It had a great set-up, could have gone in a million good directions, but fizzled out as he played out every last murder laboriously. There weren't really any surprises, as all characters followed their personal paths and none did anything uncharacteristic or surprising. I was unimpressed.

I see some of the same elements of Lumet's work in one of his earliest movies here. From the time that Henry Fonda stands alone as the one Not Guilty vote in the room, you know exactly how it's going to end as he slowly convinces different jurors, and himself, of his points. This ought not to be a suspenseful movie for the viewer.

I found interesting that almost the entire movie was contained within a single room. I'm sure that hadn't been done much before. So, I enjoyed the backdrop. I also liked that we were given a good long look at the defendant's face before these men went into the room.

12 Angry Men stands as a generational movie that challenges the men of the status quo and forces individual choice upon each juror. Everyone has a point that gives him a moment of doubt and causes him to change his vote. There are immigrants and jocks and ad men and old men and businessmen. They each see things differently and have different personal obstacles to seeing things clearly. Put this in the early 1990's and it would barely cause a blink, but in 1957 it asks questions that weren't asked to the few in the audience who actually wanted to answer them. I now laud my first Sidney Lumet film in 3 tries.


Blogger Josh said...

One of the best films of all time, in my opinion. It's in my Top 3.

March 5, 2010 at 6:06 PM  

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