Double feature: Remember when men wore hats with suits, air conditioning was a rare luxury, and people un-ironically addressed each other as “Sir” and “Ma’am”? I don’t. But these two films do.
“Salesman” and “12 Angry Men” are films driven by argumentation. Both acknowledge the power, as well as the limits, of rhetoric. Both take a close look at the many forms of persuasion and influence, doing so in a way that suggests awareness – and multi-layered absorption – of contemporaneous social psychology research on the topic.
As products of eras predating shamelessness’ full blossoming, both films are sensitive to concerns of respectability. Reputations are to be defended, appearances are to be acknowledged at face value, and deeper truths are better left undisturbed.
“Salesman” is an especially compelling mix of modern weirdness and traditional values, quotidian tragedy and sly humor. It’s a time capsule that is simultaneously dated and fresh.
For a marathon: “Salesman” and “Quiz Show” echo each other along several dimensions, including the casual prejudice underlying their social interactions, the thwarted ambition of their protagonists, and the innocent trust with which Americans let the subjects of both films (door-to-door Bible salesmen and nascent TV, respectively) into their homes.
Does the ending scene of “The Breakfast Club” intentionally rhyme with that of “12 Angry Men,” or is their concordance pure chance?
(Creative Commons licensed original images courtesy of “erikadotnet” and “ShellyS” at Flickr)