Henry Fonda Movies: '12 Angry Men' & 'The Best Man'

by Andre Soares

Henry Fonda Bette Davis JezebelSunday, Aug. 24, highlights on Turner Classic Movies:

The romantic melodrama Jezebel (actually a Bette Davis vehicle), the courtroom drama 12 Angry Men, and Franklin J. Schaffner's film adaptation of Gore Vidal's political drama The Best Man are the three top choices on TCM's Henry Fonda Day.

Fonda doesn't have much to do in Jezebel – the role could have gone to just about any other actor, including fellow player George Brent – but Davis (in a role originated by Miriam Hopkins on Broadway) shines as the willful Southern belle who must learn a lesson in humility and self-sacrifice. William Wyler directed.

In 12 Angry Men, Fonda is excellent as the juror who attempts to convince his fellow jury members of the innocence of a young man accused of a heinous crime. Written by Reginald Rose, Sidney Lumet's taut, Academy Award-nominated drama remains one of the most effective “serious” films of the 1950s. In the first-rate supporting cast: Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley, Martin Balsam, and E. G. Marshall.

Gore Vidal adapted his own play The Best Man – which happens to be an ideal film to watch in an election year, for it shows the world of politics at its filthiest as two men vie for the role of party candidate for the presidency of the United States. One of them is Henry Fonda, the other one is Cliff Robertson. The Best Man is a solid companion piece to Otto Preminger's 1962 behind-the-scenes look at Washington's dirty dealings, Advise & Consent.

In brief: The best thing about The Male Animal is Joan Leslie in a supporting role; starring Susan Strasberg, Stage Struck was a poorly received remake of Morning Glory, which had earned Katharine Hepburn her first Academy Award; Let Us Live is a watchable social drama whose director, John Brahm, is best known for the brooding The Lodger and Hangover Square; and The Tin Star is a middling Anthony Mann Western.

Schedule (Pacific Time) and synopses from the TCM website:

24 Sunday

3:00 AM Slim (1937)
Electric linemen compete on the job and in love. Cast: Pat O'Brien, Margaret Lindsay, Henry Fonda. Dir.: Ray Enright. Black and white. 86 min.

4:30 AM Let Us Live (1939)
Two wrongly convicted men are sentenced to death. Cast: Maureen O'Sullivan, Henry Fonda, Ralph Bellamy. Dir.: John Brahm. Black and white. 68 min.

6:00 AM I Dream Too Much (1935)
A composer sets the stage for discord when he pushes his wife into a singing career. Cast: Lily Pons, Henry Fonda, Lucille Ball. Dir.: John Cromwell. Black and white. 97 min.

8:00 AM Male Animal, The (1942)
A college professor fights censorship and an amorous football player who's after his wife. Cast: Henry Fonda, Olivia de Havilland, Jack Carson. Dir.: Elliott Nugent. Black and white. 101 min.

9:45 AM Jezebel (1938)
A tempestuous Southern belle's willfulness threatens to destroy all who care for her. Cast: Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, Fay Bainter. Dir.: William Wyler. Black and white. 104 min.

11:45 AM Tin Star, The (1957)
An experienced bounty hunter helps a young sheriff learn the meaning of his badge. Cast: Henry Fonda, Anthony Perkins, Betsy Palmer. Dir.: Anthony Mann. Black and white. 93 mins. Letterbox Format

1:30 PM Stage Struck (1958)
A young actress makes all the wrong moves trying to break in on Broadway. Cast: Susan Strasberg, Henry Fonda, Christopher Plummer. Dir.: Sidney Lumet. Color. 95 min.

12 Angry Men by Sidney Lumet3:15 PM 12 Angry Men (1957)
A jury holdout tries to convince his colleagues to vote not guilty. Cast: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall. Dir.: Sidney Lumet. Black and white. 96 mins. Letterbox Format

5:00 PM Yours, Mine And Ours (1968)
A widow with eight children marries a widower with ten, then gets pregnant. Cast: Lucille Ball, Henry Fonda, Van Johnson. Dir.: Melville Shavelson. Color. 111 mins. Letterbox Format

7:00 PM Fugitive, The (1947)
A revolutionary priest flees a Central American dictatorship. Cast: Henry Fonda, Dolores Del Rio, Pedro Armendariz. Dir.: John Ford. Black and white. 100 min.

9:00 PM Best Man, The (1964)
Two presidential hopefuls get caught up in the dirty side of politics. Cast: Henry Fonda, Cliff Robertson, Lee Tracy. Dir.: Franklin J. Schaffner. Black and white. 102 mins. Letterbox Format

11:00 PM Welcome To Hard Times (1967)
A broken-down sheriff tries to help his town stand against a mysterious outlaw. Cast: Henry Fonda, Janice Rule, Keenan Wynn. Dir.: Burt Kennedy. Color. 103 mins. Letterbox Format

1:00 AM Wanda Nevada (1979)
A drifter wins an orphaned girl in a poker game. Cast: Peter Fonda, Brooke Shields, Fiona Lewis. Dir.: Peter Fonda. Color. 107 mins. Letterbox Format

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