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On cable, 24 angry men

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Can the same script make for a great film twice, even when the movies are shot 40 years apart? Watch Showtime tonight and find out.

First comes the pay-cable channel's 1997 version of "Twelve Angry Men" (9 p.m.-10: 40 p.m.), which sticks 12 men in a jury room on the hottest day of summer and lets them have at it. All but 1 are convinced the defendant -- a Hispanic teen charged with murdering his father -- is guilty. Only one, in this case Jack Lemmon, believes in his innocence; yet that one juror's intransigence keeps the rest from going home, and his attempts to sway their opinions open all sorts of cans of worms. Others in the cast include George C. Scott, Hume Cronyn, Courtney B. Vance, Ossie Davis, Edward James Olmos and Armin Mueller-Stahl. William Friedkin ("The Exorcist," "The French Connection") directs.

Next is the 1957 film version (10: 40 p.m.-12: 30 a.m.), which uses the same Reginald Rose script. This time, under the direction of Sidney Lumet, Henry Fonda is the holdout, and the jurors he has to sway include Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam, Ed Begley, Jack Klugman, Jack Warden and E. G. Marshall.

Watch either or both; you won't go wrong.

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