12 Angry Men (1957)

I first ran across 12 Angry Men whilst my first ex-girlfriend was over at my parents’ house. As I recall it was raining outside, and I was flipping through channels from the single recliner-esque chair there, and we happened upon 12 Angry Men, which, at the time (clearly sometime in 2002) I only knew by name. I recognized not a soul in the movie (yes, not even Henry Fonda, who I first saw with a known name attached in C’era Una Volta il West about a year ago) and I couldn’t change the channel away from it. And it was already around half over, too.

It held me to the end even in spite of not being aware of what came before, in spite of not being aware of the talent involved, though it certainly made itself apparent as the film went on, and in spite of having, y’know, a girlfriend there.

I left the movie alone for the past 3-4 years and had not revisited it until last night (..and this morning. By now you probably know that I often fall asleep during the last movie I watch in a night because I push too hard to get too much watched). It is still definitely an excellent film, though this time I watched it with a more film-making oriented eye, as well as (for some unknown reason) a greater awareness of it as performance and as a (possible) stageplay.

As such I noticed the pretty flawless performance of all the actors–who, to be honest, I really still don’t recognize most of–and the interesting lighting and lens choices Sidney made, as well as the very interesting and suggestive framing of the characters, especially the constant closeups near the end of the film.

The only awkwardness comes from everyone turning from Ed Begley (Juror #10) when he starts spouting his prejudicial remarks. It seems a bit TOO staged at that point, though everyone seems to pull it off as best is humanly possible for such a stage-y action, and Sidney manages to get it out in just the right way.

The DVD, as per usual with films of this age (unless they start getting the psychotic ultra level treatments–Ben-Hur, The Wizard of Oz, etc–which mostly Warner Bros. does and not MGM) there was only a trailer present beyond ‘set up’ and ‘scene selection’–by far the most evil things on the planet to label “special features” outside of the film being in the OAR–in terms of features on the DVD. The print wasn’t wonderfully clean either, and seemed to be in a slightly peculiar aspect ratio, not quite Academy, but not quite the standard of widescreen (1.85:1) either. Apparently it’s a 1.66:1. Weird. Must be my only 1.66:1 DVD.

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