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12 Angry Men (Criterion) (Blu-Ray)

Ed Begley , Henry Fonda , Sidney Lumet    Unrated   Blu-ray
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
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Product Description


Sidney Lumet's directorial debut remains a tense, atmospheric (though slightly manipulative and stagy) courtroom thriller, in which the viewer never sees a trial and the only action is verbal. As he does in his later corruption commentaries such as Serpico or Q & A, Lumet focuses on the lonely one-man battles of a protagonist whose ethics alienate him from the rest of jaded society. As the film opens, the seemingly open-and-shut trial of a young Puerto Rican accused of murdering his father with a knife has just concluded and the 12-man jury retires to their microscopic, sweltering quarters to decide the verdict. When the votes are counted, 11 men rule guilty, while one--played by Henry Fonda, again typecast as another liberal, truth-seeking hero--doubts the obvious. Stressing the idea of "reasonable doubt," Fonda slowly chips away at the jury, who represent a microcosm of white, male society--exposing the prejudices and preconceptions that directly influence the other jurors' snap judgments. The tight script by Reginald Rose (based on his own teleplay) presents each juror vividly using detailed soliloquies, all which are expertly performed by the film's flawless cast. Still, it's Lumet's claustrophobic direction--all sweaty close-ups and cramped compositions within a one-room setting--that really transforms this contrived story into an explosive and compelling nail-biter. --Dave McCoy

Product Description

12 Angry Men, by Sidney Lumet (Network), may be the most radical big-screen courtroom drama in cinema history. A behind-closed-doors look at the American legal system as riveting as it is spare, the iconic adaptation of Reginald Rose’s teleplay stars Henry Fonda (Young Mr. Lincoln) as the initially dissenting foreman on a jury of white men ready to pass judgment on a Puerto Rican teenager charged with murdering his father. What results is a saga of epic proportions that plays out in real time over ninety minutes in one sweltering room. Lumet’s electrifying snapshot of 1950s America on the verge of change is one of the great feature-film debuts.

• New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
• Frank Schaffner’s 1955 television version, with an introduction by Ron Simon, director of the Paley Center for Media Studies
• “12 Angry Men”: From Television to the Big Screen, a video essay by film scholar Vance Kapley comparing the Sidney Lumet and Schaffner versions
• Archival interviews with Lumet
• New interview about the director with writer Walter Bernstein
• New interview with Simon about television writer Reginald Rose
• New interview with cinematographer John Bailey in which he discusses cinematographer Boris Kaufman
• Tragedy in a Temporary Town (1956), a teleplay directed by Lumet and written by Rose
• Original theatrical trailer
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by writer and law professor Thane Rosenbaum

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars THE movie of the 50's March 24 2014
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Unbelievably this didn't win any oscars. It is original, dynamic, and can easily be related to today's social issues. Acting is also lightyears ahead of other noir films. If you haven't seen it, you should when possible.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great addition to my collection Jan. 6 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This films was an excellent addition to those "must have" films you keep on DVD in your collection. Plus, the packaging is excellent.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely in the top 10! Sept. 3 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This movie should be mandatory for a jury to watch! Great cast! Henry Fonda's greatest film! I've seen this countless times, it's THAT good!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Dialogue Feb. 29 2012
By Steven Aldersley TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
12 Angry Men (1957)
Drama, 96 minutes
Directed by Sidney Lumet
Starring Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb and Martin Balsam

Sidney Lumet passed away in 2011, but he left us with 72 films, shorts or TV series. This was his first feature for the big screen and it's definitely among his best work.

For me, one of the signs of a good film is to take a subject in which I have no interest and hold my attention for the duration. The story takes place in one room, apart from a couple of minutes at the beginning and end of the film. It succeeds because of the strength of the dialogue and the acting ability of all involved.

After a very compact 96 minutes in which no scene is wasted, the credits roll. I'm left with the feeling that I have just seen something important. The film deals with racism and highlights the good and bad points of the American justice system. Henry Fonda leads a strong cast and every member has a significant role to play.

Lumet used a variety of camera angles to make the viewer feel like a member of the jury and it's easy to be drawn in. This is one of those rare stories where dialogue is actually exciting. It's really something that has the potential to be enjoyed by any audience.

Criterion's recent Blu-ray release offers a wonderful presentation and includes a good supplemental package.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 12 Angry Men Review Feb. 21 2012
By Andy
An excellent classic movie. Seen it several times and now own it. Great film and bought it on the strength of demonstrating persuasive talking to my wife who is a teacher. Thought it may be useful for her students. Simple set, all done in one room and no names of characters are ever mentioned until the end. One bum note - there seemed to be a fault on my disc at chapter 19 so ended up skipping a couple of scenes. Worth watching.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best drama movie ever made Feb. 4 2012
The all star cast of this original movie version does the subject justice. It has compassion, anger, despair, hope and empathy in abundance.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping courtroom drama June 15 2006
This is a courtroom drama with a difference. Apart from a very brief scene in the courtroom itself, the film takes place in the jury's deliberation room. The whole film revolves around the deliberations of a jury in a murder case in which a guilty verdict will lead to the death penalty for the accused. Initially it all seems very clear-cut with an all male jury having decided on a the young mans guilt before they have even sat down, all that is except for one man (Henry Fonda). Although he believes the accused may have possibly committed the murder, his values and ethics won't allow him to agree with his fellow jurors without thrashing out all of the evidence. Gradually he forces the other men to confront the evidence in front of them and to admit the situation is not as clear cut as it seemed. At the same time they are brought face to face with their own prejudices.

Filmed in black and white and shot almost entirely in one room, this film allows the viewer to concentrate entirely on the dialogue with nothing to distract from the story. It is a credit to the acting skills of the cast and to the direction of Sidney Lument (in his directorial debut) that the film remains gripping throughout. This is drama at its best and still one of the finest, if not the finest, courtroom dramas to be found.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece June 27 2004
By Michael
Format:VHS Tape
What can I possibly say about this masterpiece? It is surely one of the greatest movies, a work full of layers of meaning, of symbolism, of psychological and artistic subtleties. You can wach this movie an infinite number of times, because each time you discover something new. I would just like to bring up one often neglected point. For me, this movie shows the shift in acting styles after World War II - a shift towards more naturalistic approach close to "method" acting. Many of the younger members of the cast - such as Martin Balsam and Jack Klugman - seem to belong to this new school. Just watch such things as Klugman's slow reaction when it dawns on him that Cobb is yelling at him, or the foreman (Balsam) as he "gives up" and sulks in the corner. The movie is full of wonderful and telling details such as these. I also think that the style of this film bears some relation to Italian Neo-Realism of the 40's and 50's (eg. stark setting, realistic dialogue, and filming in "real time", including seemingly mundane actions). And has anybody noticed that this movie obeys the "unities" of classical Greek drama (of time, place, etc.)?
And to those cynics who think that this is a movie about a clever man who manages to convince eleven men that a guilty youth is innocent - think again. I have actually lain awake at night worrying that the young man probably is, after all, guilty! But for the purpose of the film it doesn't matter. This is not a whodunnit; it is about human character and human behavior, the law, how our backgrounds color our attitudes, and countless other themes. And of course it is a showcase for twelve SUPERB actors.
(But please, who wrote the text on the back of the video cover? "Eleven jurors are convinced that the defendant is guilty of murder. The twelfth has no doubt of his innocence." WHAT?!! Did this person even watch the movie?!)
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