Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Martin Balsam, John Fiedler, Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman, Edward Binns, Jack Warden, Henry Fonda, Joseph Sweeney, Ed Begley, George Voskovec, Robert Webber
Written by: Reginald Rose
Directed by: Sidney Lumet
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 96
Date: 04/10/1957
IMDB

12 Angry Men (1957)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Sound and Jury

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A veteran of the old live-TV days, Sidney Lumet was a major filmmaker in Hollywood for a full fifty years, working with all the big stars and focusing mainly on crime films, but still earning four Oscar nominations for Best Director, one for Best Screenplay (as well as earning an honorary Oscar for his career achievements). It all started with this, one of the most impressive feature directing debuts in history, 12 Angry Men (1957). It began as a television play, written by Reginald Rose; Rose then adapted it into this screenplay. It focuses almost exclusively on twelve men, in one room, for 96 minutes.

A jury goes into deliberation after a murder trial. Eleven of the men are certain that the accused is guilty, but Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) isn't so sure. The rest of the movie is a heated discussion/debate as the jurors try to come to the necessary unanimous decision. Shot in black-and-white, the room is cramped and hot, tempers flare, and personal agendas come out. Any director will tell you that how incredibly, deceptively difficult it is to shoot in one room, planning coverage and editing choices, and Lumet does this brilliantly; he keeps the story tight, suspenseful, and on track. It's effortlessly entertaining, and wonderfully humane. It received three Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture, and is now considered among the best films ever made.

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