12 Angry Men (1957)
One of the definite all-time classics, 12 Angry Men is an immaculate achievment in every department. Essentially a filmed stageplay, it is remarkable how director Lumet manages to keep tension, commitment and dramatic vitality on such a steaming level from start to finish without changing location once. His camera trickery gives the film a progressively claustrophobic atmosphere; the film not only matches most Hitchcock-thrillers on suspense, but Lumet makes it look simple. Reginald Rose's script is a significant social and political comment, but that is not really the essence of the film. The power of the drama that unfolds between the characters is massive, and the performances are top-notch. Taking into consideration the amount of time these actors spend with the camera closing up on them, the acting is consistently top notch. Both E. G. Marshall, Ed Begley, Henry Fonda, Joseph Sweeney and, especially, Lee J. Cobb have segments of monologue which is absolutely crucial to the film's effect, and which they deliver with incredible force and awareness. By the time of the delicate finale, you'll have been absorbed by the singular energy of this landmark motion picture. Remade by William Friedkin in 1997.