1957 Movie Review: 12 ANGRY MEN, 1957

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12 ANGRY MEN MOVIE POSTER
12 ANGRY MEN, 1957
Movie Reviews

Directed by Sidney Lumet
Starring: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley, Martin Balsam, John Fieldler, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman, Ed Binns, Jack Warden, Joseph Sweeney, George Voskovec, Robert Webber
Review by Christopher Almeida

SYNOPSIS:

A dissenting juror in a murder trial slowly manages to convince the others that the case is not as obviously clear as it seemed in court.

OSCAR nominee for Best Director, Best Picture, Best Screenplay

REVIEW:

‘All rise…the court is in session…’ Well, actually, it isn’t. The real drama in this Court Room happens in the Jury room. 12 Jurors have to come to an anonymous vote. While everyone votes guilty, our male protagonist, Juror 11, isn’t quite so sure. This case has to be treated delicately – after all, the defendant has the death penalty for murder.

The hero comes in the form of Henry Fonda. The star has appeared in 106 films. The most famous are 12 Angry Men, The Grapes of Wrath and On Golden Pond.

The director comes in the form of Sidney Lumet, who has made the transfer from television to film. However, don’t let that discourage you- judging by this film, he has done it successfully. Lumet churns the issues around the room using character and innuendos and as a result raises the stakes at a steady pace. For further evidence- it won him the Golden Bear award at the Berlin International Film Festival. The film also won three Oscar nominations.

Lumet’s transfer from one Medium to another may explain the number of close-ups. This isn’t bad thing at all – it does create a nice intense, powerful atmosphere. The close-up shots come in handy when searching for empathy. Lumet gives close-ups to every other character except for the hero at the start of the film. It is almost to the effect that we are examining the evidence and, indeed, the other jurors. This creates the most empathy because we don’t know how it’s going to end and neither does Henry Fonda.

Most heroes, in films, are sure of their objective half an hour into a film, this hero is unsure throughout.

At this point you must be thinking what is Henry Fonda’s character name? This is first thing that separates it from other films. We don’t learn any of the character’s names. The film concentrates on hero and his journey. Not a single line is wasted; all the characters are sculpted using actors from the highest caliber. Another distinction is the cinematography. Which mainstream film uses more close-ups than long shots? Yeah, I heard you- except for The Blair Witch Project! The film together with Rose’s screenplay is a masterpiece.

Reginald Rose’s screenplay is very well crafted. Themes of stereotyping, second chances and ageism are perfect ingredients for the story’s substance. A nice cool beer on a hot day and sitting in your deck chair is the only description I have for the story’s substance without using a clinched word such as refreshing. The themes are well placed- two words- pitch perfect!

The only flaws here is that it relies on stereotypical characters to create predictable sub-issues; Sub-issues such as young, naïve boy and angry man. However, Lee.J. Cobbs does such a powerhouse performance that the flaw blows right over your head.

Target audience? It is for anyone who wants to think afterwards ‘Hmm…Now that was worth seeing!’ But seriously though, the ideal target audience is for 20- to however mature you may be.

Twelve Angry Men requires concentrated viewing but that doesn’t mean it’s boring. The dips into and out of story using light humour gives it a nice balance.

 

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12 ANGRY MEN

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Film Review: THE APPRENTICESHIP OF DUDDY KRAVITZ (Canada 1974) ****

duddy_kravitz.jpgDirector: Ted Kotcheff

Writers: Mordecai Richler (screenplay), Mordecai Richler (novel)

Stars: Richard Dreyfuss, Micheline Lanctôt, Jack Warden

Review by Gilbert Seah

 It has been a long spell (thanks to its recent restoration) since the Canadian classic THE APPRENTICESHIP OF DUDDY KRAVITZ got a release again on the big screen. The film is the autobiography of the author, Mordecai Richler based on his best selling novel of the same name.

The film is the story of Duddy (pronounced doo-dee) Kravitz (Richard Dreyfuss), a brash, restless young Jewish man growing up poor in Montreal, Canada. His taxi driver father Max (Jack Warden) and his rich uncle Benjy (Joseph Wiseman) are very proud of Duddy’s older brother Lenny, whom Benjy is putting through medical school. Only his grandfather (Zvee shows the motherless Duddy any attention. But Duddy rises the ranks.

There is a scene in which an old Jewish bearded man says that a man without land is a nobody. (This scene is seen in both this film and the Woody Allen comedy LOVE AND DEATH). In this film, it is Duddy’s grandfather who tells his grandson the maxim.

Duddy starts a serious relationship with a hotel employee, French-Canadian Yvette (Micheline Lanctôt). One day, she takes him on a picnic beside a lake. Duddy is stunned by the beauty of the setting, and his ambition crystallizes: taking to heart his grandfather Zeyta’s maxim “a man without land is nobody” to heart. The film traces Duddy’s accomplishment, but not without dire consequences. It is a film of both coming-of-age and growing up – and a very effective one at that.

This is director Ted Kotcheff’s best film. His attention to detail, which is evident throughout the film is what makes the movie tick. The best example can be seen in the opening sequence where Duddy in military garb marches in a band while goofing around. The military tune “O When the Saints” bookmarks the ilm, while the lyrics also have some meaning in the story.

It is reported that Richard Dreyfuss hated his performance so much in this film that after seeing the film’s final cut, he decided to take the role in JAWS, that he initially turned down. But in my opinion, Dreyfuss delivers an almost flawless performance as Duddy in the film . He captures the juvenility and ambition of the growing Jewish boy. Dreyfuss has proven himself as an actor in the the later AMERICAN GRAFFITI and also in THE GOODBYE GIRL winning an Oscar for Best Actor in the process.

I have a few complaints of the film despite it being a classic. Being a film set in Montreal, I would prefer it being shot in France or at least have more French spoken in the film. The other is the list of Americans playing Canadians and an Englishman playing the American Hollywood director.

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz screens as part of Canada on Screen on Sunday, February 5 at 6:30 p.m. Beginning in January and running throughout the year, this free programme will present moving-image installations, special events and guests, an extensive online catalogue, and screenings across the country, all based on a list of 150 essential moving-image works from Canada’s history, and compiled through a national poll of industry professionals. Canada on Screen is a co-production between TIFF and three core project partners — Library and Archives Canada, the Cinémathèque québécoise, and The Cinematheque in Vancouver — for Canada’s sesquicentennial in 2017. The Government of Canada and RBC are Presenting Partners of Canada on Screen.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYkgUm-ImHw

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Died Today (July 19th): Jack Warden (1920–2006)

jackwarden.jpgJack Warden (1920–2006)

Born: September 18, 1920 in Newark, New Jersey, USA

Died: July 19, 2006 (age 85) in New York City, New York, USA

Married to: Wanda Ottoni (10 October 1958 – 19 July 2006) (his death) (1 child)

 

 

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