Netflix hidden gems: 50s classics

Netflix Hidden Gem Picture

By Robbie Jack


We’ve all been there: traipsing through the vast reaches of Netflix in hope of finding something new or unseen. Normally after finishing the latest series in only a couple of short days, or indeed hours. Often these painstaking searches are unrewarding, however there are some hidden gems out there that may provide solace for viewers stuck in Netflix purgatory. Two such films: ‘12 Angry Men’ and ‘Rear Window’, are too good to disregard.

‘12 Angry Men’ has regularly been touted as one of the greatest films of all time since its release in 1957. Shot in black and white, Sidney Lumet’s seminal jury room drama has a striking simplicity, as the film almost wholly takes place within one room and has only twelve main speaking roles. Boasting a distinguished cast led by Henry Fonda, 12 jurors deliberate the fate of a young boy charged with the 1st degree murder of his father. Initially Fonda is the only one to vote not guilty, and as the film progresses he tries to convince the others that this is not the open and shut case it initially appears. Centring on the concept of reasonable doubt and its importance in the judicial system, Fonda as ‘juror #8’ challenges his fellow juror’s prejudices and skewed reasoning. ‘12 Angry Men’ relies on fervent dialogue and confrontation between its characters, which only intensifies throughout the film. Highly engrossing, you are forced to hang on every word as the ‘not guilty’ verdicts begin to stack up. Most of the movie is shot at eye level, with close ups becoming more frequent as the movie progresses. This makes the viewer feel the confinement the characters also have to endure, as they are stuck in the jury room until a decision is reached. Only 97 minutes long, it feels as if you are watching the men deliberate in real time. ‘12 Angry Men’ showcases how powerful script and character development are in film, and its lack of production values only enhance the movie experience. This sole focus on dialogue pays dividends, and the film is a brilliant watch.


‘Rear Window’ directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1954, is another exemplary feature in the Netflix collection. This suspenseful thriller is similar to ‘12 Angry Men’ in that the story again takes place in the one setting: from the apartment of photographer ‘L.B. Jefferies’ played by James Stewart. Jefferies is wheel chair bound after breaking his leg and is cooped up at home, with only the world outside his window for entertainment. This vantage point allows him to see into the lives of his neighbours across the courtyard. As a captive audience, he becomes transfixed with the activity of one neighbour in particular, whom he believes has murdered his wife. Jefferies’ only visitors are his nurse and girlfriend, the latter played by Grace Kelly, whom both grow concerned with his voyeuristic behaviour. The two however begin to believe his suspicions as the film develops, and one of the final climatic scenes sees Kelly venture into the murderer’s apartment in search of crucial evidence. ‘Rear Window’ satisfies the audiences own voyeuristic tendencies, as we become engrossed with the behaviour and lives of the main character’s co-tenants. Hitchcock expertly keeps the viewer in the dark for most of the film, using obstruction and shadow to add both uncertainty and excitement. ‘Rear Window’ immerses the audience in the world viewed from L.B. Jefferies window from the very beginning, and keeps us enthralled until the very end.


Both of these classic films are amongst some of the very best Netflix has to offer, and if you’re ever struggling for choice are highly recommended.

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