12 Angry Men, 1957

Did a young man commit murder? Most on the jury think this is an open and shut case. They’re ready for the fat lady to sing, so they can all go home. But the decision isn’t so easy. Personalities clash as the details of the case are discussed. How will they decide the fate of one young man?

With a jury packed with actors like Martin Balsam, John Fiedler, Lee J Cobb, E G Marshall, Jack Klugman, Edward Binns, Jack Warden, Henry Fonda, Joseph Sweeney, Ed Begley, George Voskovec, and Robert Webber, it’s no wonder that this film won multiple international film awards. The American Film Institute ranked this film at number 42 of the 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time. (AFI’s 100 years 100 Cheers)

Sidney Lumet was a successful TV director before taking on this movie as his film directorial debut. Camera angles, lighting, and film editing had to be done with creativity and precision since almost all of the film was shot in a confining, sixteen by twenty-four foot room.

Being Intentional

This month, I’ve been examining murder in Bible verses and in movies. We all know that murder is wrong, but we don’t all know how someone develops into a murderer. Nobody wakes up in the morning and, for no reason, decides to murder someone. What was the journey that pushed the person to that point?

Join me at Seek God With Me where I’m taking that pathway in the opposite direction. What would be the ripple effect in your life if you kept thinking life-giving thoughts and kept developing along that path until you started life-affirming habits?

Could your world use a little more life? 

Sunset Blvd., 1950

Directed by Billy Wilder and written by Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, and DM Marshman Jr., Sunset Blvd is a classic film that intrigues viewers even today with its story of an actress whose  glory days were in the silent screen era and who wants to finish her career in the 1950s with a “comeback movie”.

William Holden is Joe Gillis, a down-on-his-luck screenwriter who regularly hides his car from the repo men. He’s three months late paying his rent, but Gillis is hopeful that his next story will be a winner. However, the reader at Paramont Pictures says the story isn’t worth anything. No one will hire him, except one woman. Norma Desmond, a has-been movie star.

Norma finds Gillis on her property and persuades him to stay and work on her screenplay. She pays his back-rent and buys him decent clothes. She takes Gillis around in her expensive chauffeur-driven car. Things are looking good for him financially. But he doesn’t want to stay there with this older woman who has fallen for him. He tries to leave, but Norma’s desperation and depression makes him pity her and stay there at her mansion, which, like her career, is a crumbling shadow of its former glory. 

Gloria Swanson hadn’t released a film for nine years before this one. She was quite good as Norma Desmond. The man who used to direct Norma in her early years, Max Von Mayerling, was played by Erich von Stoheim, who directed Gloria Swanson in 1929. 

Jack Webb had a small role as Gillis’s best friend and fiancĂ© of Miss Schaefer, the Paramount reader who trashed his screenplay. Miss Schaefer was played by Nancy Olson. Later, she was in the same movie with Gloria Swanson when they both appeared in Airport 1975. Edith Head did costumes for Sunset Blvd and for Airport 1975.

Asking Cecil B. DeMille, Hedda Hopper, Buster Keaton, H.B. Warner, and a few others to appear as themselves in Sunset Blvd gave them another opportunity to be in a popular movie’s list of cast members and gave this movie some sparkle.

This movie won three Academy Awards: Best Art Direction/Set Decoration for a Black and White, Best Music/Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, Best Writing of Story and Screenplay.

Murderers and Other Disobedients

Last week I mentioned that God’s job is vengeance. We’re supposed to stay away from that and let him do it. In Isaiah 1:24, God again says he will take vengeance on his enemies.

What else does Isaiah say about those who commit evil acts?  Join me at Seek God With Me to find out about the city where murderers live. Find out God’s plan for them.

Where the Sidewalk Ends, 1950

A cop kills a man whose father-in-law will have to take the rap unless the cop confesses. Dana Andrews, dressed in fedora and trench coat, is the cop whose life is changed by an accident.

At the 16th precinct, Lt. Thomas played by Karl Malden, takes over due to a promotion. Dana Andrews is Dixon, a cop who could’ve gotten that promotion if he hadn't gotten his rank reduced because he beats up hoodlums.

Dixon and partner answered a call at a floating dice game at a hotel. Scalise is the one in charge of the gambling, so when a dead body is found there, Dixon is sure Scalise murdered him. He tracks Kenneth Paine, one of the men who was a the hotel, but hits him back in self-defense. The man dropped dead and Dixon has to remove Paine without anyone seeing. He knows he’d get blamed for a dearth and Scalise the murderer will go free. He can’t let that happen.

Gene Tierney plays Morgan Taylor, Paine’s wife, the wife of the man Dana Andrews kills. She moved in with her father since she had separated from her husband because he hit her. The night Paine died, Paine hit her again.

Morgan’s father is Jiggs Taylor, the cab driver who got a certificate from the Mayor for helping Officer Mark Dixon in a time of need (a gunfight with bad guys). When Jiggs is arrested for Paine’s murder, Dixon must find a way to get Jiggs free and pin it on Scalise.

Gene Tierney played opposite Dana Andrews in Laura in 1944. This was the last of her 5 films with him. Otto Preminger directed both this film and Laura in 1944.

Oleg Cassini designed beautiful costumes. He also played the role of Oleg the fashion designer. He was married to Gene Tierney from 1941 to 1952. She played a model in the movie.

Our Response to Evil

When others have done you wrong and you are fed up with their evil actions and attitudes toward you, don’t sin. 

At Seek God With Me, I’m taking a look at appropriate responses to the evil of others. When others pick on you, hurt you, and do all kinds of sin against you, God knows what his response should be. Do you know yours?

According to Romans 12:21, we are supposed to be nice to our enemies. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” We can get creative with our response to the evil of others. Some people just pray for those who get on their nerves. Others find a way to bless them with an opportunity or a product that they need. Surprising your enemy with good deeds works amazingly well.

Join me for more on this topic at Seek God With Me.

Destination Murder, 1950

Joyce MacKenzie plays Laura Mansfield, the daughter of a man murdered at his own doorstep. She saw the killer leave, but it was dark and she only saw his back. How will she make sure the police get the right man? Will there be more killing? Who will live to tell about it?

Stanley Clements plays Jackie Wales who thinks he can tell the big boys what to do. He got paid for doing the dirty work, but that money ran out and now he needs more. When he starts dating the daughter of the man he killed, he thinks he can play with fire without getting burned.

Albert Dekker and Hurd Hatfield play the two top bad guys. Each one wants to be the most powerful. Each one uses women in their scheming.

With better dialogue, this could’ve been a much better film. As it is, there are unexpected twists that keep the audience interested. The film noir attitude and the use of music in the film are right in line with the evil smirk on the bad guys’ faces.

Franklyn Farnum had a small but very important role in the film. He was Laura’s father, the murder victim. He was a busy actor, appearing in 524 roles from 1916 to 1961. Many of his roles were uncredited, but his list of films includes hits such as Stagecoach 1939, Going My Way 1944, Sunset Blvd 1950, All About Eve 1950, and The Ten Commandments 1956.

He's Your Brother

The first murder in the Bible was one brother against another. Cain rose up in anger at his brother Abel, whose offering was accepted by the Lord while Cain’s was not.

Do you think that God has forgotten you? God was there to protect the one who committed the first murder. Certainly God can protect you too.

Check in at Seek God With Me and see what’s going on there. I’ll be sharing more about Cain today. But don’t worry, I always try to show the positive side of my topics.

Murder seems like an odd topic on a blog that tries to focus on life, love, and heroes. But when you watch a murder mystery on TV, you know the hero will find a way to catch the bad guys. There is always sunshine after the storm.

The movies I review this month will show a variety of heroines and heroes. They often learn things about others and let this new knowledge change them in some way. Hopefully, we all come out better on the other side of conflict.

Join me this month for a look at what desperate men will do.