(NEWS10) – Since new movies are not being released in theaters at this time, I’d like to talk about movies of the past. This week I’d like to talk about a classic in black and white. The socially conscious courtroom drama, “12 Angry Men”, was directed by Sidney Lument.
This was Mr. Lumet’s feature film debut. It was released in 1957 and starred the legendary Henry Fonda with eleven other tremendous actors of their time.
The movie begins right after the closing arguments in a murder trial where an inner-city teen allegedly stabbed his father. If they find him guilty, the teen will be sentenced to death. Out of twelve, only one thinks that he could be innocent. This juror subsequently attempts to convince everyone to even just consider that there could be reasonable doubt.
One of my favorite moments in this movie is the second scene. The jurors walk into the room where they will decide this teen’s fate. They shuffle around, stare out the window, and make small talk with one another. While all this is happening, one camera is moving around the room. This choice results in giving you the true sense of how isolated they are in this small room on the hottest day of the year. The scene is shot in one take.
Sidney Lumet was known for rehearsing his movies like plays. Rehearsals in the cinematic world are, and were, very uncommon. Rehearsals make one-shot scenes like this feel real. It is as if actual people are having conversations and you just happen to look over as an invisible bystander.
“12 Angry Men” has a lot to say about social justice and racism at that time. Eleven of the twelve jurors have preconceived notions of the guilt of the inner city teen due to his race and the fact that he grew up in the inner city. The main juror, Henry Fonda, challenges that popular notion.
This translates across time to the social movements of today. We are seeing the negative impact of split-second judgments based on appearance, which is what is addressed in this film. “12 Angry Men” is a must-see and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. As corny as it may be, “they just don’t make them like they used to”.