- Actors: Ed Begley, Henry Fonda, Jack Warden, Jack Klugman, E.G. Marshall
- Directors: Sidney Lumet
- Format: Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
- Language: English
- Subtitles: English
- Region: Region A/1
- Number of discs: 1
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: Criterion
- Release Date: Nov. 22 2011
- Run Time: 96 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- ASIN: B005HK13P4
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #7,380 in Movies & TV Shows (See Top 100 in Movies & TV Shows)
12 Angry Men (Criterion) (Blu-Ray)
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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.
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• 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
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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.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Twelve jurors of varying ages, personalities, cultural backgrounds and social standings enter a deliberation room to determine the guilt or innocence of a troubled teenage boy accused of murdering his father. It’s quite a simple premise – a jury’s deliberation – one that occurs daily all over the United States. But the film manages to wring every last drop of tension, drama, and social commentary from this commonplace scenario that it’s impossible not to viscerally experience the true weight and implications of such a task – to search for the truth in a case of life and death.
First things first: let’s just appreciate how entertaining 12 Angry Men is. This is a film that takes place entirely in a single room, and tells its story completely through dialogue. And yet, it manages to be significantly more absorbing and enthralling than your average film with dozens of different locations and set pieces. The dialogue is so well-written and the characters so well-realized (and acted) that you become completely swept up in the proceedings. The pacing is also pitch perfect. The film rises naturally to a few emotional climaxes and confrontations, which are punctuated by quieter moments as the characters (and we as the audience) catch our breaths and process what has developed. And for a film that takes place entirely in such a confined space, there are a pretty incredible number of interestingly-composed sequences and long takes as the camera maneuvers from character to character and the drama unfolds.
So yes, 12 Angry Men is a superbly entertaining film that absolutely flies by over the course of its brief hour-and-a-half running time. But it’s also so much more than that. It’s a film about “truth”: its elusiveness, malleability, and vulnerability to the subjectivity of the human mind. Yes, there is a single objective truth to this, and likewise any real-life case; but the jurors don’t know it, and neither do we. The objective truth isn’t the point. The point is the impressionability of the “truth” – how it morphs in the minds of the characters (and in ours) over the course of the film, and how significantly it can be informed by our emotions, past experiences, memory (and its limitations), prejudices, and a myriad of other factors. The film is able to crystallize both the beauty and the folly of our judicial system. The beauty, as Henry Fonda’s character points out, is that the scales are heavily tipped in favor of the innocent, that no man can be found guilty unless that guilt is beyond any reasonable doubt. The folly? The subjectivity of reasonable doubt, and the unavoidable reliance on a human jury who are influenced by all of the aforementioned factors.
But ultimately, 12 Angry Man a film about us – people. Each juror in the film has a unique personality, temperament, and background which informs his opinion and motivates the role he plays in the story. Every juror gets his time to shine and the result is an ensemble that feels both diverse and extremely well-balanced.
The strength of the characters in the film and the way they play off of one another is key to perhaps its most important theme: the danger of assumption, and the ease and quickness with which we judge one another. We watch as the jurors expose their biases and prejudices through their assumptions and judgments of the defendant, as well as one another. But even beyond that, the true brilliance of the film is that it subtly provokes the exact same snap-judgments from us as we watch. It’s extremely easy to start to view the more critical jurors as the “good guys” and the dissenting, guilty-proponent jurors as the “bad guys.” To invoke a psychiatric concept, we engage in splitting – seeing some of the jurors as “all good” and others as “all bad.” We automatically begin to judge the seemingly more prejudiced and willful jurors, confining them to a box of our construction without knowing barely anything about them.
But in its revealing final moments, the film snaps us back and urges us to look beneath the surface of those who we judge and ask an important question: why? Why does one juror spew prejudice and anger while another sits silently? What drives them to act in the way that they do? No one is born prejudiced, bigoted or racist. These are things we learn and which become incorporated into our personalities often through no fault of our own. The angry, prejudiced juror isn’t inherently “all bad,” but simply reacts in a way that is informed by his accumulated life experience (much of which is subconscious). Of course, that doesn’t mean that people can’t and shouldn’t be held accountable for their negative attributes and beliefs – we can always introspect and take action to improve our worst qualities. But that isn’t the point. The film simply asserts that we should strive to understand before we judge, as understanding and empathy fosters connection where judgment simply divides. As Juror #3 – who we’ve likely judged and grown to despise throughout the film – weeps over the torn photograph of himself and his estranged son at the conclusion of the film, the message couldn’t be clearer.
12 Angry Men is a masterpiece. It is a film that marvelously succeeds on all the facets that every great film should. It’s fabulously entertaining and engrossing, fantastically shot and acted, perfectly paced, and extremely thought-provoking. An undeniable classic whose themes will never lose their relevance.
This Criterion release is probably the best version of this film out there and if you are looking to upgrade to blu ray this is a great opportunity to do so.
As expected, the Criterion edition Blu-ray for 12 ANGRY MEN does not disappoint. The uncompressed, hi-def transfer looks stunning; a razor sharp picture with solid blacks, strong mid-tones and no artifacting or pixelation. The sound is clear as a bell. The picture & sound look to have been cleaned up but thankfully do not suffer from an overuse of DNR (digital noise reduction). The grain & detail are all there. You can count every bead of sweat that drips down each man's face. There are several bonus features to go along with the movie that make it even more of a value. All in all a great deal, especially if you buy a used copy, like I did.
I've watched this movie I don't know how many times in my life. This is one of those films that I can watch over & over and never tire of, like THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION. You spot something new with each repeat viewing. And if you love movies like I do, then it's just a joy to sit back and watch some of the greatest actors who ever lived doing what they did best. If you have the film on DVD and are contemplating an upgrade, this is an easy recommendation. If you own a Blu-ray player but don't own this, or for some reason you have never seen it - then what in the world are you waiting for?!? Dramas simply don't get much better than this. And a final bit of advice for younger folks... don't pre-judge this film because of how old it is. Great movies & great acting NEVER go out of style. If you want a stellar example of both, then this version of 12 ANGRY MEN is about as good as it gets. This film and THE VERDICT make for an awesome double feature of powerhouse courtroom tension & drama. 5 STARS!!!