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New jury movie loaded with acting talent

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Remake of 'Twelve Angry Men' features stellar cast

August 13, 1997
Web posted at: 11:41 p.m. EDT (0341 GMT)

From Correspondent Ron Tank

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Showtime's new remake of the classic 1957 film "Twelve Angry Men" may feature one of the most distinguished juries -- of thespians -- ever assembled.

Among their number: George C. Scott, Jack Lemmon and Hume Cronyn, joined by TV sitcom veteran Tony Danza and "Forrest Gump" alumnus Mykelti Williamson. Presiding over the stellar cast is director William Friedkin.

"To do (the movie) with such an illustrious group of gentlemen -- finest group of men I've every worked with in my life and Billy Friedkin -- and ... you just couldn't turn it down," Scott said.

CNN's Ron Tank reports
icon 2 min., 21 sec. VXtreme streaming video

The premise of "Twelve Angry Men" is simple. After the jury retires to deliberate, all but one of the 12 quickly votes to convict a murder suspect. Then that one jurist -- played in this new version by Lemmon and in the 1957 movie by Henry Fonda -- begins to change minds.

"I had a different take on it than (Fonda) did," Lemmon said. "My feeling was that, from the very beginning, Hank was sure. He was sure about how he felt, about there was a reasonable doubt, whereas I was not."

Other modifications were made to bring the film into the 1990s. Arguing over execution in the old version, one juror taunts another with the expression, "Perhaps you'd like to pull the switch." In the Showtime version, the expression becomes, "Perhaps you'd like to put the needle in."

And while the jury 30 years ago was all white, this new jury includes four African-Americans, including one, played by Williamson, who is decidedly racist.

"This was not fun at all," Williamson said. "I had headaches every day during production."

Friedkin's meticulous re-creation of the jury room included a malfunctioning air conditioner, which was just one of the handicaps for the actors. Another was that two cameras were kept trained on them at all times during filming.

"You couldn't check out for a second because you would invariably be on camera," Danza said.


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