12 Angry Men
(United Artists, 1957)
Henry Fonda put his own money into co-producing this film (because he couldn't get a studio to take a chance on it even with him staring!) after it appeared first as a television drama in 1954. A masterpiece story by Reginald Rose was combined with a dozen of the most talented actors anywhere to shoot this entire thing in 19 days in New York for $349K. Great script, great actors, and the great good fortune to pair first-time film director Sidney Lumet and veteran photographer Boris Kaufman, created a drama for the ages. Almost the entire 96 minutes takes place inside one simple jury room, with nothing but great performances to carry it along. It has since been re-done on Broadway, on tour, and on cable, but this version is still the best and most timeless iteration of it, and probably always will be.