I have just summed myself after watching The Seventh Juror and I can't quite grant it's greatness, leading the powerful Wings to take an easy victory for me:
1. Wings - 8
2. The Seventh Juror - 7
There's a few things speaking against The Seventh Victim's status as great for me:
1. While I quite like Bernard Blier he is best suited for comedy or side characters in dramas. He does not really have the face to carry a film of this kind, and frankly, he did not sell the opener for me, it felt awkward. Once we got into his head with the narration things fell into place, but while he is perfectly solid his performance failed to hit a strong chord with me - he was merely good.
2. The same goes for most of the camera work, some early shots of the fog, etc. aside. It is a perfectly well-made film, but nothing striking visually - which means it needs to lean on the acting, the writing and the concept - the acting is solid, but no standouts - the same goes for the dialogue and overall writing - leaving the concept to carry most of the weight, which it, to be fair, does.
The rest should probably be put under spoilers:
3. The stakes in the courtroom felt a bit low. The plotting around the killer attempting to save the man who took his place is intriguing, and many of the highlights of the film is him picking apart the arguments of the prosecutor and questioning witnesses - but what are the stakes here? It is mainly after this point that the boyfriend gets more focus in the story, we don't really know him, and Blier does not convey that much care. It is interesting to see him jump into defense-mode, but the transition is not clear. The main development in this 30-40 minute section of the film is the few shots of his wife as she realises.
4. Blier did not quite sell his emotional journey to wishing to save the man's life. He never seemed to feel too guilty, and was mainly frustrated with the man who took his place. I never understood his change of heart in attempting to confess, or why. It was also odd to see him break down over the man killing himself (by accident/some fault of his) while he never really seemed to care for his victim, even at the end. The film and the society of the film seemed to not really care about the woman because she was sunbathing topless and partied - and I include the film here as it never really seemed to linger on her or question the characters around her/how they react.
5. The angle of respectability - and Blier being the indignant one, almost as if he had the moral high ground at the end feels odd and is underplayed. It is a chilling ending in some ways, but essentially we have the killer punished and there being some critique of the middle class and/or bourgeoisie, but without some commentary at the beginning and the throwaway line, this angle just was not explored.
Frankly, the film would have been better if played as a black comedy/satire.