Wednesday, September 3, 2008

12 Angry Men

Dir: Sydney Lumet, 1957, bw (8.4*)
This was Sydney Lumet’s (The Verdict, Absence of Malice) first film, and forever changed legal films. Very evidently based on a play (for television, by Reginald Rose), the entire film takes place in the jury room, yet the action is riveting, thanks to a great script and terrific cast. The jury is led by foreman Martin Balsam, and all but one think a murder defendant is guilty, primarily due to bigotry, as he’s from an urban slum. The lone holdout is Henry Fonda, who gradually makes his arguments to the others, based on reasonable doubt. His staunchest opponent is Lee J. Cobb, in one of his best appearances. Other jurors include E.G. Marshall, Norman Fell, Robert Webber, Jack Warden and some unknowns who are equally good. Somehow Lumet keeps this from becoming claustrophobic, as well as using the jury room to expose our weaknesses and prejudice as a society.

This is #124 on our Top Ranked Films on the Internet survey, and was #8 on the IMDB top 250 the last time I checked..

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.



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