12 Angry Men (1957)
One of the definite all-time classics, 12
Angry Men is an immaculate achievement in every department.
Essentially a filmed stage play, it is remarkable how director Lumet
manages to keep tension, commitment and dramatic vitality on such a
steaming level from start to finish without changing location once. His
camera trickery gives the film a progressively claustrophobic
atmosphere; the film not only matches most Hitchcock-thrillers on
suspense, but Lumet makes it look simple. Reginald Rose's script is a
significant social and political comment, but that is not really the
essence of the film. The power of the drama that unfolds between the
characters is massive, and the performances are top-notch. Taking into
consideration the amount of time these actors spend with the camera closing up
on them, the acting is consistently top notch. Both E. G.
Marshall, Ed Begley, Henry Fonda, Joseph Sweeney and, especially, Lee J.
Cobb have segments of monologue which is absolutely crucial to the
film's effect, and which they deliver with incredible force and
awareness. By the time of the delicate finale, you'll have been absorbed
by the singular energy of this landmark motion picture. Remade by
William Friedkin in 1997.