12 Angry Men (1957)

I’ve been lazy with my blind spots, and after watching 12 Angry Men last night, that fact made me very sad. That film was so cool — what if I hadn’t chosen this one, had watched the other films on my list and just forgotten about it? This film blogging business gives and gives, why don’t I take? I’ll review all fourteen films on that list before the year is over. Maybe there’s something there that will click as well with me as this film did.

12 Angry Men is about a jury meeting. Funny thing is, we don’t know the case before they start discussing it, even though we see a glimpse of the court room. This is where you first notice how genius the writing is — you understand everything, the story doesn’t become jagged as we get insights into the case. This film doesn’t half-ass anything, doesn’t even try. The twelve men soon turn into identities. Just like in jury court, everyone is equally important.
Writing is what I want to rave about here most, because I was so impressed, but since all actors delivered stellar work, I have to mention them, just as I have to say something about the cinematography. Man, that film had some great people working the cameras, because it was smooth and beautiful and the long, uninterrupted takes were something out of this world. There were many uncomfortable close-ups, as it tends to be in older films, but they didn’t bother as much as they usually do. It’s a miracle of its own, how well the film has aged.
The whole watching experience is a thing of beauty, really. The dialogue, which is nearly everything in this film (there’s a lot of standing up, sitting down, smoking and wiping sweat), is witty and never bores. Stereotypes are crushed, and for the audience the lessons of patience, impact of our words and actions, and looking things closer are perhaps even clearer than to the characters. It doesn’t happen often anymore, but this film really has a morale. And it’s a good one.
It almost feels like theatre — like the beginning was characters taking their place, like they had done this many times before, rehearsed it all time after time, until everything was perfect. I can’t put in words how impressed I am, and if you haven’t seen 12 Angry Men, do yourself a favor and watch it.
The Blind Spot Series is a blogathon led by Ryan at The Matinee, where the aim is to watch an essential film every month. You can find my choices for 2014 here.

15 responses to “12 Angry Men (1957)

  1. I watched Twelve Angry Men once in High School. It was a really compelling film and Henry Fonda was really good.

  2. Thanks. Pleased to have found your blog and I’ll drop by again. Such an intense, human film. Regards from Thom at the immortal jukebox (drop a nickel)..

  3. I love these old movies that basically were just guys in a room talking yet it utterly captures your attention. There’s such a skill in that.

  4. Pingback: Blindsided by BELLE DE JOUR | The Matinee | Cinematic Passion & Perspective

  5. Pingback: Blind Spots 2014 | Films and Coke

  6. Very nice review! 12 Angry Men is one of my favorites from Classic Hollywood; I have a soft spot for movies that play out like theater plays, and this is one of the best.

  7. Nice review. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve seen with Henry Fonda, but for some reason I could never watch this one in it’s entirety without getting bored of it. Jury duty sucks the life out of you, and watching it on screen is just as tedious as being summoned to sit on a jury.

  8. Great review! This makes me excited, because this film is my August Blind Spot. I look forward to watching this.

  9. Excellent review. Good thing you finally found time to watch this masterpiece!

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