My mother wouldn’t let me see this movie when I was a kid. She did, however, give the local rental store permission to allow me to rent rated R films. This was mostly for action pictures and such. One time, when I was about twelve years old, I went to the rental store with my friend Tiffany to rent movies for her birthday party and we all wanted to see The Exorcist, but it was rated R. Needless to say, I rented it for her. We watched it. It scared the shit out of us. My mother found out that I rented it and was very angry. That was my first experience with the movie. I didn’t see it again until I was 18 and I went to see it as a midnight movie the night before Halloween. That was one of the worst decisions I ever made in college. So many nightmare that night. I’d only seen it those two times, so I decided to rewatch it again in order to write about it now. After the cut are my thoughts. The film became the first horror film to be nominated for Best Picture, racking up 10 Academy Award nominations, winning two: Best Sound (won), Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay (won), Best Supporting Actor Jason Miller, Best Supporting Actress Linda Blair, Best Actress Ellen Burstyn, Best Director William Friedkin and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were: American Graffiti, Cries and Whispers, A Touch of Class and winner The Sting.
I thought it would be fitting to follow up my in memorium Sidney Lumet post with a more prolonged discussion of one of his greatest masterpieces. Like I said in that earlier post, I saw 12 Angry Men for the first time on PBS a few years ago. I couldn’t believe I’d never seen it before. Part of what makes this an undisputed masterpiece is how timeless it feels. Yes, it’s filmed in black and white, but it feels as fresh as if it were filmed today. Amazing, considering it was Lumet’s first feature film. The only other directorial debut I can think of that is equally as amazing is Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane. Surprisingly this film was only nominated for three Academy Awards and lost them all to The Bridge on the River Kwai (something tells me François Truffaut was not happy with the Academy’s decision that year; read his book The Films in My Life and you’ll see why I think this). The awards it was up for were Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture. The other films up for Best Picture that year were Peyton Place, Sayonara, Witness For The Prosecution and winner The Bridge on the River Kwai. Regardless of its Academy history, the film is ranked #7 on IMDb’s user-generation Top 250 and is generally considered one of the greatest films ever made.