12 Angry Men Sidney Lumet

12 Angry Men Sidney Lumet
This suspenseful, brilliantly acted courtroom drama was Lumet’s first feature. Nearly 50 years later, he made Find Me Guilty, a My Cousin Vinnie-esque vehicle for Vin Diesel to show off his acting chops. Not all things improve with age, including, sadly, good directors’ judgement. Luckily, 12 Angry Men has aged extremely well. Lumet lets his actors’ expressive faces do the work in this masterpiece of subtle tensions. The unbelievably stacked cast pits Henry Fonda’s mild mannered juror number eight — the only man in the room who finds the defendant they’re trying not guilty — against the likes of Jack Warden, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam, Ed Begley, Jack Klugman and others. The cast is only made up of the 12 jurors, stuck in a cramped deliberation chamber during a vicious heat wave. Lumet’s framing impeccably zooms in on the men’s faces, each telling a story about the personality clashes that will unfold over the next 96 minutes. Tensions rise to the boiling point as Fonda slowly begins to cast doubt on the defendant’s guilt, uncovering anger, pain, bigotry and personal conflicts. The script for this film is so tightly written that it’s easy to forget at times, that the camera never once leaves the room where the men are sequestered. Oh, the bygone era when "suspense” was a legitimate genre of films that relied on actually building suspense instead of piling action sequence upon action sequence to jangle the audience’s nerves into believing they’ve felt a moment of real tension. The DVD includes a commentary with a film historian who puts the film into a bit of social and cultural context, as well as two featurettes: a "making of” doc that talks to the original actors and some from the recent stage production, and one called "In The Jury Room,” about the legal history and context for the tale. (MGM)