12 Angry Men (TV Movie 1997) Poster

(1997 TV Movie)

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schappe16 March 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Mild Spoilers)

I saw the 1997 remake of this famous play from the `Golden Age of Television'. I've never seen the 1954 original in which Bob Cummings played Juror #8, (The Fonda/Lemmon role). But I have admired the 1957 film for years. Inevitably, when one sees the new version some kind of verdict must be reached on which is better.

The story is the same, with a few minor updates. (The case against the defendant seems spectacularly weak and rather easy for the hero to take apart- how could anybody rely on witnesses who heard things over the roar of a passing train or who saw the crime through its windows?) The real comparison is of the characters as played by the different casts of actors, both of which represent an incredible confluence of thespian achievement.

Juror #1: This is the jury foreman. He's played by Martin Balsam in the original as a nice guy who just wants everybody to get along. Courtney Vance seems a little more intense while retaining the strong desire for fairness and teamwork Balsam conveyed. In the new one, Vance is a football coach and one can sense that he views himself as the `coach' of this team. My vote goes to Vance.

Juror #2: John Fiedler, a short bald-headed actor with a squeaky voice and mild manner played #2 as a guy who just wanted to be helpful and not impose himself on the others. Ossie Davis is a very different actor and his juror #2 is a very different character, a common working man who remembers wise things others have told him and has an instinct for what's right and wrong, even if an uncomplicated one. He could hardly have led the battle for a not guilty finding as #8 does but he recognizes when the man is right. Davis is clearly the more interesting performer here.

Juror #3: This is the villain of the piece, who in the end becomes a pathetic figure. He wants to `get this kid' not so much because he's guilty but, it turns out, because he reminds him of his estranged son. He starts out as the garrulously arrogant leader of the wolfpack and, as he loses one ally after another, he seems, (to himself), as the last man at the Alamo until the real reason for his position is revealed to him. It's hard to think of two actors more similar than Lee J Cobb and George C. Scott, both of them lions not just in winter but for all seasons. Scott not only played this role that Cobb had made a meal of- he also played Cobb's most famous role- Willy Loman in `Death of a Salesman'. You could also picture Scott playing Johnny Friendly in `On the Waterfront' or Cobb playing the prosecutor in `Anatomy of a Murder, the manager in `The Hustler' or even `Patton'. The difference here is simply their ages and their states of health. Lee J. Cobb was 46 in 1957 and 19 years away from death and George Scott was 70 in 1997 and only two years from meeting his maker. He's fat, jowly and pretty pathetic looking from the beginning. Cobb is robust and intimidating until he collapses from within. He wins this one big and it's a big win for the old film.

Juror #4: In the original this man is played by the wonderful EG Marshall, who would go on to star in Rose's `The Defenders'. He is a man who possesses relentless logic but little imagination. He is able to see what is put in front of him and fit it together but not to view something from multiple perspectives, as could an architect, (Juror #8's profession). Only when the evidence from which he has assembled his point of view is methodically destroyed by #8 does he come to realize he is wrong. As good as Marshall is, I believe Armin Mueller Stahl tops him in the new version. Marshall's #4 is machine-like. Mueller-Stahl is just a regular man whose greatest skill happens to be logical thought, which is admirable but not enough.

Juror #5: Jack Klugman could be a powerful actor when he kept him mouth shut. When he talked too much, (as in `Quincy)', he was a little, (maybe a lot), too much. But his understatement in 12 Angry Men serves him much better. Still, I'll take Dorian Harwood's more intense and troubled #5. He seems to be wondering how his fellow jurors would grade him for things he's done.

Juror #6: James Gandolfini, several years before `The Sopranos' made him a star, plays a simple hulk of a man who is incapable of complicated thought but has a basic sense of honor. He hates it when anybody tries to push around `the old man', (juror #9). One wonders how the fact that the murder victim was a father played on his mind. (Rose updates his play by having #8 point out the many faults of the father: he drank, pushed around women, etc.,- this seems an unnecessary attempt to create sympathy for the defendant.). The 1957 character is much the same but the underrated Edward Binns plays him much better.

Juror #7: Jack Warden was much praised as the guy who just wants to finish in time to go to the ball game. He's always been one of my favorite character actors. Tony Danza is singled out for the most criticism because he's `a sitcom actor'. That said, Danza is quite as good as Warden. By the way, Jack Lemmon was also a `sitcom actor' in 1952's `Heaven for Betsy'.

Juror #8: The conscience of us all. Jack Lemmon would at one time have made a meal of this. He's pretty good here, but, like Scott, he's lost something in his old age. He's fat and dumpy and baggy-eyed. He lacks the nervous energy he once had. He can't make the big speeches with as much force as he once would have. Fonda is much stronger and more convincing.

Juror #9: The best thing in the new one is the priceless Hume Cronyn as `the old man', who does almost as much to sway his fellow jury members as #8 but seems too frail to stand up to their anger. His key revelation that the testimony of the other old man who was a witness may have been fueled by his desire to `be somebody' is poignant as #9 can obviously identify with that. Joseph Sweeney is competent in this role in the 1957 version but Cronyn is on another level entirely.

Juror #10: This is the `other' villain of the piece. His problem is bigotry. Rose cleverly converted the white racist of 1957 into a black racist in 1997, just to show that bigotry takes many forms. Mykelti Williamson gives a strong performance in this role but I still prefer Ed Begley's old wreck of a man, who retreats into a shell after everyone- even #3 rejects him.

Juror #11: This is a European immigrant who, perhaps because he is an outsider who has been judged by American Society since he got here, becomes one of the first converts. George Voskovic is fine in the original, Edward James Olmos his equal in the new one.

Juror #12: This is an air-headed salesman who sides with whoever looks like they are going to win. Lemmon would have been excellent in this role in 1957. Robert Webber was fine instead. CSI's William Peterson doesn't make much of an impression the remake, (except that he's put on a lot of weight in seven years).

So, I'll take Cobb, Binns, Fonda, Begley and Webber from the 1957 film and Vance, Davis, Mueller-Stahl, Harewood and Cronyn from the 1997 TV Movie, with the other two positions a tie. That leaves us with a 5-5-2 tie overall. But it's not really a tie. The two main roles are #8 and #3 and biggest `supporting' role #10 and the 1957 film gets a hat trick on those.

But each film is worth spending the time to watch and then watch over again the next time it's on.
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unnecessary remake but well-cast
didi-57 June 2004
Whether or not we really needed a remake of the famous Henry Fonda film, updated with a range of nationalities and transferred to television, this is a well-enough done update benefiting from some strong actors in the cast. Jack Lemmon takes on the voice of dissent (the Fonda role), while George C Scott is the redneck extremist (played earlier by Lee J Cobb). We also have Hume Cronyn and Ossie Davis, both fine actors in their eighties or thereabouts by the time this was filmed.

The script has been slightly updated but the premise is the same, all about family betrayals and the head-on reassessment of prejudice. Lemmon in particular is excellent as the quiet reasoner ready to debate the whys and wherefores with his fellow jurors. And Scott is memorable in one of his final roles, simmering on the edge of indignation until the pay off moment when he realises not all his problems can be solved by pinning blame on others.

This shouldn't replace the 50s version but is good enough in its own right to stand alongside it.
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Not great like the original, but an honest effort
mattymatt4ever3 October 2002
If you have seen the original "12 Angry Men," it's hard not to classify this film as inferior. The acting was better, the cinematography was better, the pace was faster. The cast in the remake is talented, just not as talented. Even the great George C. Scott couldn't quite measure up to Lee J. Cobb. Even the great Jack Lemmon couldn't compare to Henry Fonda. The only actor I felt was an improvement was Mykelti Williamson, who delivers a powerful and disturbing speech towards the end. I see him in mostly small, supporting roles, where he doesn't really get to show off his talent. In this film, Williamson gets the chance to flaunt his overlooked acting chops. One actor who I felt was a big step down was Tony Danza, who doesn't measure up at all to Jack Warden. Danza does an OK job, but dramatic acting isn't his forte. Sitcom acting is his strongsuit. Edward James Olmos does a fine job, but it took time getting over his phony accent. That's right, he's been in this country so long that his Latino accent sounds phony.

Nevertheless, the acting is good and the film really muscles up during the third act. If the director sped up the pace and the camerawork wasn't as clumsy, this could've been a much more compelling film. But to be fair, it's a tough job measuring up to the original. We've all seen and heard much of the dialogue (which is almost word-for-word from the original script, only with a few obscenities, one racial slur and modern references like "Fat Albert" added), so hearing it again is like listening to a stand-up comedian using his old material. Funny stuff, but we've heard it before. Only a good comedian will usually maintain a good delivery of the joke, while the delivery of some of the old dialogue is limp this time around.

My score: 7 (out of 10)
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Gives a whole new meaning to the word `remake'
Coventry30 January 2004
This TV-movie is truly remarkable. It's a remake of an undeniable classic, and that word usually brings tears to your eyes. Remakes normally are a lame excuse used by uninspired directors to make more money out of a good idea. You know the drill of the average remake: bigger, louder and as less tribute to the original as possible. William Friedkin's take on 12 Angry Men is the exact opposite of all this. It's a modest re-telling of the story but obviously made with endless amounts of professionalism and respect towards the original. Taken up to an even higher level by on of the best ensemble casts of the nineties! All members of the jury are familiar faces and some of them give away the best performances in their entire career. The acting level of the cast during some of the intense discussions and debates almost burns holes in the screens…it's that perfect. A very special word of respect and worship goes out to Jack Lemmon, Hume Cronym and George C. Scott. These 3 late legends of the big screen kept on giving amazing performances till they sadly passed away. May their souls rest in piece, cinema will never forget them. Of course, I can't give this version the honor of being better than the original masterpiece starring Henry Fonda, but nevertheless it's an intense and fascinating courtroom drama that'll leave no soul unharmed. Naturally, one could ask the question if it was really necessary to create an update of 12 Angry Men…the answer to that would be ‘no' of course, but what the heck. Almost every remake, sequel or spin-off is unnecessary, but that doesn't mean they can't be enjoyable.
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Superior remake
mermatt29 March 1999
Like the original 1957 film, this remake is a taut drama. Unlike most remakes, this one is as good as the first. The script still stands up as a gritty revelation of human psychology. The cast is solid, and the characters are more diverse than in the original. Look at both versions and see a study not only in the workings of human nature but also in the workings of script adaptation at its best.
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An exception to the rule
Sm545424 April 2002
A young man(Douglas Spain) is accused of murder. It is a hot summer day in a jury room. Most of the jurors have better things to do, and want to get out of there. One man, Juror #8(Jack Lemmon), decides not to jump to conclusions. He uses reason and logic to help prove to the other jurors that there is a reasonable doubt, and there is not enough evidence to convict this man. Juror #8 has to convince a bigot, Juror #10(Mykelti Williamson), a man who refuses to admit he may be wrong, Juror #4(Armin Mueller-Stahl), a man who has something against young people, Juror #3(George C. Scott), and a man who just wants to get out of there, even if it means making an unjust choice, Juror #7(Tony Danza).

Lemmon, Scott, Williamson, Stahl, and even Danza put on great performances. This is an exception to the rule that remakes can't be great. This was a brilliant film. Like in the original, tempers flare as it is a hot day and there is no air conditioner. William L. Petersen, Edward James Olmos, Hume Cronyn, James Gandolfini, Dorian Harewood, Ossie Davis, and Courtney B. Vance all play as jurors too. Every juror does a great job. Every character has a story and view point.

If you liked the classic or play, you should definitely see this remake. I strongly recommend this movie. 10/10
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A great remake of a great classic
Jessica Carvalho13 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This remake of ''12 Angry Men''is awesome! I didn't watched the original version of this movie, but I liked very much this version,so I guess the first one is so great or even better then this one.(I will watch it eventually) 12 jurors need to conclude if a boy accused to have killed his father, is guilty or non guilty. The majority of them believes that the boy is guilty, with the exception of only one of the jurors (the juror number 8). Since the boy's penalty will be death sentence, the juror number 8 wants to know the arguments and reasons before giving a conclusion,making everybody to think very well about all the case and to forget their hypocrisy.

This movie is spectacular and make us think very well about the process of the things,specially in Court. I liked the cast very much as well, even not knowing many of the actors, I think their job was terrific!
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12 men, one life at stake.
lib-425 October 1998
Watching this movie was like peeling an onion- the more it progressed the more the heart of the real matter was revealed. The ideas this movie fosters- the certainty that everyone enters the jury room with a hidden agenda were proven. Most of all it brings to light the fact that justice and money are connected. I was in awe of both Jack Lemmon and Hume Cronyn- how they were men of courage. Though the whole movie is set in a jury room it never lacks for tension and action. This movie should be required for every person who ever has to serve on a jury.
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A fairly good remake featuring multitalented performers that are not optimally used
DrEbert2 October 2004
The hardest part of reviewing a remake is avoiding comparing it to the original. The same holds true here.

The story behind "12 Angry Men" is one of the greatest of our time and is a must-see for all, whether it is on stage, on TV, or in the movie theater. I personally think the 1957 original is the best made, but the fact that that was the first version I saw and that that is the "classic" version has probably made me a tad bit biased.

That all being said, this made-for-TV version of the story is done well. Unfortunately, it does, in every way, feel like a made-for-TV movie, which is unfortunate considering the immense talent pool of the cast (made up of everyone from old legends like George C. Scott, Ossie Davis, and Jack Lemmon to newer stars like Tony Danza, Courtney B. Vance, Mykelti Williamson, James Gandolfini, and Edward James Olmos). Each of these men is capable of doing a great deal more than they show in this movie. It feels almost like they are forcing themselves to act and so the performances are not believable. In short, nobody ever really gets "into character."

Part of the reason might be because so many of the actors do not personally reflect their characters. For example, Jack Lemmon and George C. Scott both look significantly older than "the old man" (Juror #9). Edward James Olmos is supposed to play "the foreigner," but Armin Mueller-Stahl, the man playing the wealthy and dignified Juror #4, speaks with a very noticeable German accent.

Even though I wanted to avoid it, I think I will do a point-by-point critique of the actors' performances based on how their characters were designed and based, somewhat, on the nearly flawless performances in the 1957 classic: Juror #1 - Courtney B. Vance does a fairly good job, but his delivery is not very natural at all. Juror #2 - Ossie Davis is a very talented actor and plays his role well. The only possible bone I have to pick is that his character is supposed to be a meek young man, whereas Ossie Davis plays as a meek, older man. Juror #3 - George C. Scott is an acting legend and plays the character as well, though he plays the role very angrily and, I think, not sarcastically enough. In some places, he overdoes it. But still, I can see Lee J. Cobb's performance in him. Juror #4 - Well done performance by Armin Mueller-Stahl; just the accent issue. Juror #5 - Dorian Harewood, another good actor. Problem: his character is supposed to start off shy and slowly gain some aggression. Harewood's character is aggressive from the get-go. Juror #6 - James Gandolfini plays his part well. Not much to criticize. Juror #7 - Not bad, Tony Danza. Jack Warden, we must admit, is much better at playing a loud-mouth like Juror #7 than Tony Danza, partly because Warden speaks so loudly anyway. Juror #8 - Jack Lemmon is another acting legend, but his acting here seems tired and forced. It's not as natural as Henry Fonda's performance in the classic version. Juror #9 - The "old man" is not old enough, plain and simple. (Actually, his age is fine. It's just that everyone else is too old and it makes him look young.) Juror #10 - Okay, Mykelti Williamson simply does not cut it when it comes to Ed Begley's original, hateful bigot. Williamson plays more of a I'm-mad-at-the-whole-world-just-because character than a bigot. Juror #11 - Awesome job by Edward James Olmos, comparable to the original. Juror #12 - Also a fairly good job by William Petersen (of "CSI" fame). Again, not as good as Robert Webber's original, but still good.

Okay, I didn't want to have to do that, but I did. So sue me. :)

Now that I've shown that this version does not compare with the original, I will compliment it enough to say that it is still worth watching. It features a class of good albeit under-used actors and the story is the most important part. The exploration of humanity and the jury process and our biases and human nature and so much more can all be seen in the story of "12 Angry Men."
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Lugubrious self indulgent twaddle
angery202 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This remake of a classic simply sucked. The blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the director.

If I could do a shot by shot, role by role comparison, the major difference is that in this remake the actors are so visibly "ACTING". Each line is freighted with meaning as if it was the most important utterance in theatrical history. The camera angles and lighting all re-enforce these scenery chewing interpretations.

For example in the original we have a man commenting on the rain and telling a simple story about losing a football game because of heavy rain. That's it a bit of exposition an almost throw away line of character development. In the remake that same bit is treated as some quasi-mystical life lesson, an epochal moment in time. The character changes from a guy passing time to a bore who thinks the world revolves around his part time job as an assistant football coach.

Each and every speech in this remake is treated in the same way. There is not one line small enough that it's not treated with the attention usually reserved to Shakespearian soliloquies.

The acting is often bad and that's frequently not the fault of the actors. It's the director that tells the actors to dial it up or down. It's the director that sees the whole picture. The pacing of this remake is amazingly slow and that makes its 117 min run time seem like 3 hours. The original was 96 minutes and was over before you noticed the time.

I would love to go into greater detail but that would require I watch this movie again, and that ain't happening.
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I stumbled across this...
Thonolan31 June 2004
Last night, I attempted to rent the b&w classic at the the local video store only to find that they had switched the classic with the remake (which I realized only after I got it home). I figured I might as well give it a try. Honestly, it wasn't a bad movie, but it doesn't even begin to compare with the original (which is one of my all-time favorites). An attempt has been made update the movie by adding minorities and modernizing some of the dialog. Some of this works, some of it doesn't. Also, a few of the roles in the remake are badly miscast (Tony Danza and Ozzie Davis both come to mind).

I'd give this version 6/10 and the original gets a 10/10 from me.
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"24 angry men" – comparison of 1957 original and 1997 TV remake
Harry T. Yung26 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
These comparison notes resulted from something I've wanted to do for a long time – watching the two "12 angry men" back to back in one sitting. Obviously, a detailed comparison is not feasible with the length limit of IMDb user comments. A small monograph would serve better. Indeed the original movie has been used as material for corporate training courses on relating styles.

The following comparison is therefore confined to the cast of the 12 jury members. The big picture was of course an updating of the times – while in 1957, it was an entirely White cast, the remake saw 4 Blacks (1, 2, 5 and 10). But colour is entirely incidental in this movie, as in "Lilies of the field" (1963) in which Sidney Poitier won his Oscar.

For Juror #1, Martin Balsam plays a slightly tentative foreman, or at least not as self-assured as Courtney B. Vance's portrayal 40 years later. Both handle the sentimental scene of baseball-in-the-rain quite well.

Juror #2, the people-generally-ignore guy, is handled quite differently in the two versions. John Fiedler plays a nerdy little man who can however turn cheeky at the right moment. Ossie Davis' portrayal is an out-and-out grass-root guy that is consistently humble in manner even when the content of his lines could be cheeky, like throwing back things said by Jury #3 right in his face.

Juror #3, coincidentally or otherwise, is played by two great actors who both include the middle initial as part of their name. While portrayal of the "bad guy" is similar throughout most of the movie, the finale "breakdown" scene is handled slightly differently. Lee J. Cobb's version is slightly briefer and less emotional, with the breakdown triggered by catching sight of his picture with his son. George C. Scott's portrayal, however, is more emotional with thoughts of his own son triggered when he talks about the accused boy's purported shout to his father "I'm going to kill you". Interesting to note that because of the difference in the gentlemen's age when they took the role, in character in Cobb's case has not seen his son for only 2 years while in Scott's case it's 20 years.

Juror #4, the most logical and analytical of the bunch, was played in 1957 by E. G. Marshall, as down-to-earth and dispassionate as the role requires. Armin Mueller-Stahl in 1997 comes across as a little more "academic" and less practical in flavor. Or maybe Marshall's persona for the role has been too firmly ingrained.

The man-from-the-slumps, Juror #5 who is the third to change his vote to "not guilty", comes across very much alike in the portrayals by Jack Klugman and Dorian Hare and as I said, the colour difference is just incidental.

Juror #6 is the typical blue-collar worker who claims that he "lets the boss do the thinking". But don't be deceived because he is also the one who comes up with the sharp retort to Juror #8 in the washroom, "Suppose we come up with a not guilty verdict and the accused did kill his father." He and Juror #6 change their votes to "not guilty" together, turning the result to a dead even 6-to-6. Ed Binns (a versatile actor who a few years later played a Senator in "Judgment at Nuremberg") plays the role more ore less on face value while James Gandolfini displays just a little more subtle intelligence and authority.

Juror #7, the man whose interest is only in catching the baseball game in the evening, is a somewhat superficial character, and the role is handled effectively by Jack Warden and later Tony Danza.

Henry Fonda's Juror #8, the hero of the story, makes such a deep and long impression that it's difficult to imagine anyone else playing it. It requires some effort to give Jack Lemmon an unbiased consideration. It seems that Juror #8 forty years later has become more emotional, angrier and louder. Come to think of it, you can say the same thing about the entire mood of the remake, which may simply reflect the change in the times.

Juror #9, the "old man", is the first to change his vote to "not guilty" in support of Juror #8's gutsy "gamble". Joseph Sweeney plays this character with such confidence that you'll forget about his age. Hume Cronyn plays it with a little more fragile vulnerability.

Juror #10 is the uncontested top ass**** in the story, with prejudice and discrimination written all over him. Ed Begley brings out the cold, dry, contemptible character well. Mykelti Williamson (who plays an excellent "Bubba" in "Forrest Gump"), tackles the character somewhat differently, with a trace of I-don't-really-give-a-sh** resignation that is not seen in Begley's portrayal.

Juror #11, the European immigrant watchmaker, the fourth man to change his vote to "not guilty", is a character with matching precision – patience, mannered upbringing, clear sense of right and wrong. Both George Voskovc and Edward James Olmos have done an excellent job, with the latter displaying a touch more of icy coolness.

Juror #12 the salesman is well played by both Robert Webber and William L. Peterson in the portrayal of the indecisive character and disinterest in the court case. He, together with Jurors # 1 and 7, are the most "undecided" three, forming the bunch that is the next to change their vote to "not guilty" after the 6/6 split. The remaining 3 are the die-hards.
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Tito-84 April 2000
I have not seen the classic 1950's version of this movie, but I seriously doubt that I would enjoy it any more than this brilliant remake. To put it mildly, this film has some of the best acting that I will ever see. The whole cast is great, but George C. Scott and Jack Lemmon really stand out in a film where all the performances are rock solid. The absorbing story moves along at a relatively brisk pace, and I was thoroughly entertained from beginning to end. I can't praise this film enough. Even if you love the original, this is still a must-see.
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A good, made for television movie, but falls short of the original.
gitrich6 February 1999
This version of 12 Angry Men is certainly worth seeing, but it does not come close in overall excellence to the original film with Henry Fonda. Jack Lemon does a credible job here but it is certainly not his best work. George C. Scott is excellent as he plays the last holdout in a jury room. If you really want a treat, see the 1957 film version with Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Ed Beagly, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam and E.G. Marshall. The debut direction of Sidney Lumet is simply outstanding making use of unique and effective camera angles and close-ups.Much of what this TV version lacked was better direction. It is pretty hard to improve on perfection though.
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12 Angry Men
roswellian-14 January 2005
This movie surprised me. I'd seen the original first and adored it, so I was certainly excited to see what they'd done with the remake. Sadly, I was greatly disappointed with the movie. While almost everything played out the same, I had a hard time connecting with or liking any of the characters. Jack Lemmon was boring, and I had a hard time watching the movie till it's end. The movie was entirely too annoying to enjoy how intense a jury deliberation can get. The ending was different than it's predecessor and certainly not better, rather depressing, actually. If you're looking for a good movie depicting the jury system, rent the original. It's far better than it's re-make.
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Highly predictable and one-dimensional
emphyrio18 January 1999
Choosing an intriguing theme does not automatically result in a good movie. Everybody will agree on the social and ethical relevance of pointing out the deficiencies of the jury system. But what do you call a movie which also includes (1) extremely stereo-typed and implausible characters (take a look at the former Nation of Islam member who behaves like he's from Mars), (2) a plot which you can see coming from miles away (surprise: a one-to-eleven vote changes into twelve-to-nil) and (3) a disclosure of 'evidence gaps' which is an insult for the intelligence of the viewer (none of the jurors even considers the option that an eye-witness will not need her *reading glasses* to see a murder at a 10 meters distance). The makers of the movie prove their point in a rather surprising and totally unintended way: if jurors are so one-dimensional, mindless and so easily to be persuaded, re-persuaded, and contra-persuaded as shown in this movie, stay away from court girls and boys! I certainly would not call this a good movie, to use a *heavy* understatement. The exuberant comments this movie received in the Internet Movie Database (which made me rent this movie) are probably Pavlov responses to Quality-Actor-Movies-with-Deep-Messages.
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Great, one of my favorite movies
Keyser Soze-129 April 2001
I have only seen bits and pieces of the original 12 Angry Men, so I cannot really compare the two. When I saw this movie when it came out on Showtime in 97, I fell in love with it.

This movie has one of the greatest casts of any movie I have ever seen. I never, never liked Tony Danza, but he does a good job here. But look at the rest of the cast: Ossie Davis, Jack Lemon, Courtney Vance, James Gandolphini (before he was known as Tony Soprano), Edward James Olmos, and George C. Scott.

The screenplay is based on the original movie, but I can't really picture this movie without the racial tension. Half the jury is black, so there is ocassional rascial tension between them. I love Ossie Davis, and I really cannot picture this movie without him.

You must respect the task the director was up against when making this movie. The entire movie (with the exception of the VERY ending and the VERY begginning) is filmed in two rooms: the jury room and the men's room. the director's only action to work with is the actors, which makes this more like a play than a film. But the tension and suspense that is created within the single jury room is more than most high budget suspense-thillers I see today.

I really reccomend this movie to people who haven't seen the original and to those who have. This interpritaion is, in my view, better because of its great cast and it's new suspense scenes. I know I have only seen pieces of the original, but I still think this is superior.

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NOTHING beats this original
asajb200010 June 2007
Why make another version of this movie? I just finished watching the 1957 version and I admit it seems like a play (and probably was developed originally as a play since it basically takes place in one room) and it was also broadcast live during the heyday of the golden years of television. We'll never see the talent of the actors in the room who have since passed-away. In fact, only Jack Klugman (at age 85) is still with us. Other movies seem tailor-made for plays, such as Glengarry Glen Ross. I'm not sure if the casting was simply dead-on or the actors happened to nail the roles they had or a combination, but each person seems very well-suited to his role and it's hard not to get wrapped up in the dialog and the general pace of the movie (as though you were peering into the jury room through a peephole). In fact, as I watched each actor, I identified with people I knew who had the same characteristics, such as Jack Warden's wise-ass, or Ed Begley, Sr.'s angry racist or Lee J. Cobb's uptight, high-strung yelling man or any of the other people. I do think that Jack Klugman's role may have been miscast. I didn't necessarily identify with him as a product of the slums. They could have cast a minority for his role but I guess in 1957 all-white, male juries were what was the norm.
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eFayers11 November 2004
The first time I watched this was in grade 11 English.

I am a big fan of William Petersen so when I heard he was in it, I assumed it would be a good movie...but good is such an understatement. It's one of the best movies I've ever seen. It makes you get down to the core of it all and really think.

It's like you're actually there, part of the jury. This movie was so real, so dramatic. I was never really into the whole "law and oder" thing but this movie changed everything. I have now seen the movie over 5 times and it never gets old. If you haven't already seen it you have to check it out.
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Another dozen deciding someone's fate
bkoganbing24 March 2018
Jack Lemmon and George C. Scott lead another troupe of players in that classic about men on a jury in a capital case 12 Angry Men. As I said in my review of the original film, it's a wonderfully acted but inherently flawed classic.

It's been updated somewhat as the original dozen were 12 angry white men. No women, but that would compromise the title. At one time just being a woman was an automatic out. Here we have Mykleti Williamson, Courtney B. Vance, Ossie Davis, and Dorian Harewood on the jury.

The fault with the first is repeated here. No way to get around it, the moment was a dramatic high point. Jack Lemmon in the Henry Fonda part announces to his fellow deliberaters that he visited the neighborhood of the crime and produces the exact same make and model of the switchblade weapon used in the murder.

Sorry folks, but it is still standard jury instructions that jurors NEVER visit the scene of the crime or the neighborhood of same. And you never do ANY independent investigating. When Lemmon produces that switchblade an immediate mistrial should have been called. Besides how did he get it through the metal detectors?

This version of 12 Angry Men, still wonderfully acted and directed, still inherently flawed.
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Very capable remake
xterminal19 February 2001
12 Angry Men (William Friedkin, 1997)

Friedkin's made-for-television adaptation of the classic 1957 film is surprisingly well-thought-out and executed with a style most straight-to-small-screen works lack. Jack Lemmon and George C. Scott presage their conflicts in the later made-for-TV remake Inherit the Wind as the two jurors who refuse to budge from their convictions that a murder case does and does not have reasonable doubt attached to it, respectively.

As with the original, 12 Angry Men is really an ensemble piece, the first American example of avant-garde filmmaking on a mass scale; with the exception of a few brief flashes at beginning and end, the film takes place in two adjoining rooms, a jury room and a men's room, allowing the director no scenic latitude at all and forcing him to concentrate on the actors themselves. Friedkin, as Lumet before him, gathers a mix of the well-known and the underrated from all corners of the Hollywood backlot, gives each a speech, and goes to great pains to ensure that those who espouse even the most controversial views are as charismatic as those who are warmer and fuzzier. In other words, this is an actors' movie, pure and simple, and if you enjoy watching actors do what they do, you'll get a kick out of this. ****
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Certainly worth a look.
rhoughton18 October 2000
I always remember Roddy McDowall's comment; "If you're going to remake a movie, remake a bad one and make it good." The obvious inference here is, that you avoid the inevitable comparison to the original. This remake was a lot better than I expected it to be, but, alas, still not as good. Changing the Ed Begley part into a black racist, just doesn't work. And neither does casting George C. Scott in the Lee J. Cobb role. Great actor though he was, he was just too old for the part. One plus is that the script is a little softer, and somehow seems a little more acceptable than the original.
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Not Too Impressed . Know What I Mean ?
Theo Robertson3 June 2003
After reading all the glowing praise about this remake of 12 ANGRY MEN I sat down hoping to see a reinterpretation of a classic film , but it`s more or less the same script filmed in colour with a different cast . No doubt one way of looking at it is that the original Reginald Rose script hasn`t been destroyed by radical rewriting but like the remakes of THE GETAWAY and PSYCHO it seems a waste of time making something that`s almost the exact same as the original shot for shot . The producers do deserve some credit for making the rabid reactionary racist a black muslim thereby saving the viewer from some patronizing PC garbage but at the end of the day the original movie didn`t need remaking and this TVM proves it
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12 Angry Men
Coxer9930 May 1999
It's not Lumet's version, but it's still pretty darn good with fine ensemble acting all around. Danza is the biggest surprise in the picture. Well done!
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Decent Remake
Michael_Elliott28 February 2008
12 Angry Men (1997)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

By the numbers remake from director William Friedkin tells the same story as the original film. When I say "by the numbers" I really mean it because for some reason this film uses the same story and dialogue from the first film, which really makes no sense but the film is somewhat entertaining even though we've seen it all before. The all-star cast includes Jack Lemmon, George C. Scott, Tony Danza, Ossie Davis, James Gandolfini and Edward James Olmos. The one interesting change is that four black jurors were added and the way Friedkin uses this is rather interesting in some dialogue about race.
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