When Reginald Rose's dramatic nugget of a telecast was adapted in 1957 to make the now-classic film 12 Angry Men, director Sidney Lumet stayed true to the original broadcast form. So true, in fact, that it was shot in three weeks, and with a whopping 88 minutes of the movie's 96-minute running time taking place in the same palpably tense, fantastically claustrophobic room. All this withstanding, Henry Fonda as the Atticus Finchlike Juror No. 8 and crew manage to stir up one of the most heart-wrenching, hand-wringing, sleeve-tugging, neighbor-shushing courtroom suspense dramas ever, which, as the classic overdone trailer tells us, is about "Twelve men with the smell of violent death in their nostrils! Twelve men turned into twelve clawing animals!" (We couldn't make this stuff up.) The movie, which tackles issues of personal prejudices, class differences, and the bandwagon mentality of the court system, will screen tonight as part of the Bryant Park Film Festival.
Mon., Aug. 16, 8 p.m., 2010