April 21, 2021

“Twelve Angry Men” in a restored TV Production

If you can convince your friends or family to watch an hour show together this holiday weekend, you might consider the restored version of “Twelve Angry Men” on YouTube.

The black and white television play by Reginald Rose was later developed into a stage play and movie, but this initial Westinghouse Studio One version broadcast has fantastic dialogue and acting.

Robert Cummings won the Emmy Award for Best Actor in a Single Performance that year, but the whole cast, including Franchot Tone and Edward Arnold, impress the viewer with their acting skills. I finally figured out that the jury foreman was a younger Norman Fell who later became the landlord on the tv show, “Three’s Company.”

The play is interspersed with 1954 commercials featuring Betty Furness and Westinghouse appliances and they are a hoot, especially the one featuring a turkey in a “new-fangled” Westinghouse refrigerator at the program’s 38-minute mark.

Several thoughts came to mind while watching this mid-20th century creation. Television shows were in black and white and broadcast live in those days so there is definitely a stage set feel to the show. Juries were predominantly male and white. Ironing, cooking and cleaning were the exclusive domain of women. People who have entrenched views of the world are always present. Some will resort to bullying and even violence to get their way.

After you have had your fill of turkey this weekend, perhaps you will also need some food for thought. “Twelve Angry Men” just may be that mental meal.


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