Tag Archives: Lee J. Cobb

The Set of 400: #85 – My Favorite Knife Surprise

Today! Because ever since you walked into this room, you’ve been acting like a self-appointed public avenger –

12 Angry Men (1957)

Directed by Sidney Lumet (x3)

Starring Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb (x2), Martin Balsam (x4), Jack Klugman, E.G. Marshall (x4), Jack Warden (x3), Ed Begley, John Fiedler, Edward Binns, Joseph Sweeney, George Voskovec, Robert Webber

And we’re back to play-based movies barely doing anything to update the setting! But really, what all could they’ve done? You can’t very well stick the jury on a train and have them debate the merits of the case over a hot dog at Coney Island, can you? (Or, could you? Maybe as some sort of commentary on the judicial system, its role as some manner of funhouse stacked against the little guy? It being a rollercoaster to no where except back where you started, under the boss’s heal, busting your hump for King Business? Jesus, who’s ready to produce my crazy new plan for 12 Angry Men: Keep Your Hands and Feet Inside the Jury??)

No, Lumet’s 12 Angry Men is locked-in, and that’s the way it works best. The jury nearly eats itself alive in their discussion of the case, revealing all their hidden prejudices, grappling with the facts of the case and each other’s motives for wrapping this deliberation up. Things are shouted and twists uncoiled and minds won over – or at least persuaded for the time being – until they finally arrive at a decision. It’s a marvelously acted tour-de-force by everyone involved, especially the leads, with Fonda’s curious, questioning Juror #8 and Cobb’s volcanic, passionate #3 locked in epic cross-table battle.

100% on Rotten Tomatoes

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The Set of 400: #216 – My Favorite Projectile Vomiting

Today! Because it’s pretty much discarded these days, except by the Catholics who keep it in the closet as a sort of embarrassment –

The Exorcist (1973)

Directed by William Friedkin (x2)

Starring Ellen Burstyn (x2), Max von Sydow, Jason Miller, Linda Blair, Lee J. Cobb, Kitty Winn, Jack MacGowran, William O’Malley, Mercedes McCambridge

If you’ve managed to compartmentalize types of horror films to the point that you can place something ahead of The Exorcist in overall quality, okay. It is more a supernatural horror flick than a slasher movie, more a psychological thriller horror than a ghost story or a tale of creeping death. But this is a lot of mental gymnastics to avoid the obvious conclusion – The Exorcist is the greatest horror movie ever made, and it’s not even particularly close. Again, I’m not a huge fan of the genre in general, but I do tend to seek out renowned, acclaimed films of any stripe, and I’ve never seen anything that quite compares. Halloween is a great slasher movie, but it’s like comparing a small family drama to Citizen Kane.

Yes, even for all its wacko visuals

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