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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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?!)
During an unseen trial, a young man of a negatively-seen ethnicity (which is never specified) is accused of the murder of his father. It is an "open and shut case", and all the jurors agree that he is guilty, except juror #8, played by Henry Fonda.
In 95 minutes, almost shot in real-time, we observe as the jurors' prejudices and emotions churn and crash in mighty waves, as each piece of evidence is examined and examined again, as every actor plays against the others. In the process, we witness an object-lesson in epistemology : what is doubt, what is evidence, how do we prove or disprove a proposition, and how people in groups act in group dynamics that sometimes are not conductive to the truth.
Politically speaking, 12 Angry Men is a testimony against juries and capital punishment, but that is not the point of the movie. It is a movie about how we judge events and how we filter the truth. And that's something that you won't get from any action movie.
Most recent customer reviews
The best jury analysis and court case movie of all time. A classic in moviemaking to rivet your attention on 12 personalities in one room is an intellectual masterpiece.. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Charles Kretch
Fast service..... The dvd was in mint condition. I'll surely be buying again...... CheersPublished 23 months ago by Asha Campbell
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. Read morePublished on March 24 2014 by Anthony Chauvin
This films was an excellent addition to those "must have" films you keep on DVD in your collection. Plus, the packaging is excellent.Published on Jan. 6 2014 by Jonathan
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!Published on Sept. 3 2013 by DavewhammybarMac