12 Angry Men

Blu-Ray Rating: *****

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Read Amber Wilkinson's film review of 12 Angry Men
12 Angry Men

This is yet another cracking collection of extras from Criterion, which when taken together explore both the talent involved and the dominant themes of the jury room classic.

Sidney Lumet and Reginald Rose fans get plenty of added extras, including the original television version of 12 Angry Men. This film is remarkable in its own right, not least because it was shot live. It's also interesting to see how Rose honed his screenplay more finely for the big screen, adding in biographical detail about his jurors and, by changing the heritage of the alleged murderer firmly to Hispanic (he is seen in the original but his ethnic group is not overtly stated), is able to introduce racism as a cause of prejudice.

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Also included is an earlier pairing between the two men, A Tragedy In A Temporary Town, which shares many of the same themes regarding a rush to judgement. Criterion don't forget other major talent who worked at crafting the film either, cinematographer Boris Kaufman. A 40-minute analysis by fellow DoP John Bailey is included, talking about Kaufman's start in cinema, shooting with Jean Vigo, before his move to Canada and on to the US. It's an insightful piece that shows the trajectory of his work and how elements present in his earliest films, such as the use of light, would go on to reappear in 12 Angry Men and beyond.

Lumet also makes his presence felt courtesy of a collection of interviews, entitled Lumet on Lumet. Talking about his body of work, he discusses the way that working in TV sharpened his techniques. He also offers observations of staging and actors - "The better they are, the more of themselves they're using." Insight into the director's attitude is also offered by his friend, writer Walter Bernstein, who talks about the way Lumet helped people circumvent the Black List. Ron Simon, curator at the Paley Center for Media, offers excellent introductions to the teleplays and an analysis of Rose's work.

It's also worth noting that the film has never looked so good. It is presented here in high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack, with the presence of the unrestored teleplays serving further to remind us how well it has been cleaned up. That you should get hold of a copy is beyond any reasonable doubt.

Reviewed on: 29 May 2017
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12 Angry Men packshot
One member of a jury tries to convince the others not to convict a man.
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Region: B

Ratio: 1.66:1

Sound: Uncompressed monaural soundtrack

Extras: 1955 teleplay 12 Angry Men, Tragedy In a Temporary Town, introductions by Ron Simon and an interview aobut Rose, production history of 12 Angry Men, from teleplay to big-screen classic, Lumet on Lumet, interview with Walter Bernstein, John Bailey on cinematographer Boris Kaufman, theatrical trailer, booklet featuring a new essay by writer and law professor Thane Rosenbaum

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