Reel Rumbles: “Call Northside 777” vs. “12 Angry Men”

David Conrad

David is the author of a forthcoming book on Japanese history and film. He has a Ph.D. in history from the University of Texas at Austin and loves period pieces, classics, and arthouse. He has also read nearly every word J.R.R. Tolkien ever wrote. @davidaconrad

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4 Responses

  1. Jandy Hardesty says:

    It’s been forever since I saw Call Northside 777 and I don’t remember it well, so my knee-jerk nod goes to 12 Angry Men, but you make a good case for both! Love the commitment you have toward your writing conceit, too. :)

    • David Conrad says:

      777 has a lot of great noir elements, particularly among its supporting cast and its locales, but it is for the most part quite un-stylized. Wikipedia calls it a “documentary-style noir” or some such, which stuck out to me because I had never considered that as a subgenre.

      I wrote this the day after watching it, which probably tilted the scales in its favor. I still come out slightly on the side of 12, but I was really struck by the similarities between the two and by how much more 777 does, and does well. I think it’s a real hidden gem!

  2. Daniel says:

    I recently watched 12 Angry Men, and I could not help but think about a modern version of the movie. This is something I do a lot when watching old movies. In the 2015 version you almost certainly would have seen the crime occur, either at the beginning of the movie or in flashbacks as it was being discussed by the jury. You would have seen large portions of the trial. The basis of the bigotry of the defendant would have been specific and overemphasized. I could even see a jury field trip to the crime scene to add “variety” to the movie’s visuals (cannot be in one room the whole movie right?)
    As you point out all of these alterations to the original would have betrayed what the movie is about. The crime does not matter. The specific prejudice does not matter. Hell, even the details of the crime do not matter except that there is ambiguity as to what really happened that night. Anyway great review; makes me want to watch Call Northside 777.

    • David Conrad says:

      Oddly enough, when I was in Japan last year there were ads in the subways for a new Japanese version of 12 Angry Men. I can’t imagine what that would be like. But I think you’re right about a new American version, sadly.