Salesman + 12 Angry Men

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)

6 thoughts on “Salesman + 12 Angry Men

    1. Yes, and yes. Although the parallels are striking (especially in the obsession with/disparagement of assigned “leads,”) I think what most kept me from making the connection was that whereas “Salesman” seems to me to be centrally preoccupied with persuasion, “GGR” is really more about shifting power relations – which is why I paired it with “Gosford Park” a while back (

Add another film connection or comment:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s