In sharp relief to The Lunchbox, I already knew exactly how I felt about 12 Angry Men before revisiting it this week — that it is a timeless cinematic masterpiece. After much pondering and mulling, I have decided that my preconceived notions were correct.
Sidney Lumet was a genius. Here’s what I wrote about this movie the last time I watched it, in 2018:
12 ANGRY MEN (1957) is one of my all-time favorite films and revisiting it on a recently acquired Blu-Ray copy was a treat. If you’ve never seen it before, then just go watch it. But even if you *have* then it’s worth rewatching just to be able to pay attention to how the camera angle changes over the course of the film. I’ve talked to people who say, “I don’t really get what a director does,” and 12 Angry Men is a masterclass in how a good director (in this case, the great Sidney Lumet, who had ~NEVER BEFORE DIRECTED A FEATURE FILM~) can add an oomph to a film’s emotional message. There’s a pretty decent chance that if I had seen this movie and To Kill a Mockingbird when I was a kid, I would’ve actually wanted to go to law school (sorry, Mom and Dad).
On this re-viewing, it really jumped out at me how well the titular all-white all-male jury is written, because it becomes to easy to tell them all apart. Of course, Henry Fonda has a famous face and a strikingly white suit, but most of the rest are just ordinarily-dressed character actors doing really, really good work. In no time at all, it becomes easy to imagine how one of them is going to react to what the others are saying.