12 Angry Men
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12 talented actors
lots of emotion
1 very simple set
no special effects
Produce under good direction. Serves millions.
Seriously, this film is a masterpiece. A jury has to decide a seemingly open and shut case of a young man (who, as with most of the jurors, remains nameless throughout the film) who has been accused of murdering his father in a fit of anger. The evidence couldn't be clearer that this guy did it. Murder weapon, motive, eyewitness testimony all in place.
One juror (Fonda) however, wants to talk the case out. He's not 100% convinced that the guy is guilty. And so it begins. An emotional roller coaster follows as we learn about the jurors, their reasons for voting as they do and how (or if) they are forced to re-evaluate the evidence.
Part of the charm of this film is it's starkness. 99% of the film takes place in one room; the jury room, a simple set consisting of little more than a table, 12 chairs, some windows and a fan.
The best part, I believe, is the character development of the jurors. When the movie begins, they are just 12 anonymous characters. Even though none of the jurors are named in the movie (two are in the very last scene, after the case is over) by the time the movie is over, you feel as if you know and understand every one of them.
Truly a remarkable film and well worth repeated viewings.
Practically the entire film is set in the single jury room, on a hot and humid day, with these twelve incredibly diverse men, and shows how their backgrounds color how they arrive at their conclusions. Truth is very elusive in this case, and it's a matter of questioning if there is "reasonable doubt."
There are many things that point out how times have changed in 50 years; it has been decades since a jury would be chosen that would only consist of white men, and a few years since a table full of ashtrays with cigarette butts would be allowed, but the basic truths remain the same, and if one places twelve strangers to come to a verdict in a difficult case, tempers are going to flare. The hot head in this film is Juror # 3, Lee J. Cobb, who sees the events through the lens of his relationship with his son, and he gives a fiery performance, but each actor has a lot to contribute to the success of this film.
This was the first feature film in Sidney Lumet's long career, and he was nominated for a Best Director Oscar; the film was also nominated for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, but lost in all three categories to David Lean's "Bridge on the River Kwai." Lumet was to work with Fonda again in '64 with the riveting cold war thriller (and my favorite Lumet film) "Fail-Safe," which also had in its cast Juror # 6, Ed Binns.
Total running time is 96 minutes.
The plot is very simple. A poor, young man from the wrong side of the tracks in on trial for murdering his father in a fit of anger. The evidence seems overwhelming: an eyewitness to the killing, a murder weapon was a knife owned by the young man, and he was seen fleeing from the scene of the crime. Guilty? You'll have to wait and see.
Well, when our film starts the 12 jurors have just been led to the jury room where they are to decide if the defendant should be convicted and given the death penalty. Eleven of the jurors vote guilty without really reviewing any of the evidence. Mr. Davis (Henry Fonda), juror #12, objects and asks that his apathetic companions at least give take a look at all of the information before sentencing the boy to death. The other 11 jurors are incensed by this waste of time but finally, they agree.
Watch as the evidence is examined bit by bit and make up your own mind. Guilty? Innocent? That really isn't even the point. This is a beautiful example of how suspense can be wrought without eerie music and 2 million dollars worth of sets. Ninety-eight percent of the film takes place in a small, claustrophobic jury room where you can feel the heat of bodies and smell the sweat, and know the true face of the man who has the seat next to you.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My four star rating is based on the DVD with extras, not the film itself which I consider to be a big five stars. The DVD comes in a basic plastic keepsake case. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Orrymain
Fabulous. One of the great classics. Eternally relevant.Published 4 days ago by Thomas A. Blinkhorn
This is a fantastic movie. An hour and a half of 12 men sitting in the same room arguing sounds boring, but it's absolutely captivating. So... Read morePublished 4 days ago by Mark Shillingburg
Brilliant legal drama with Fonda at his inimitable best as the quietly assertive and discriminating juryman refusing to be browbeaten by the other members as he wins them over one... Read morePublished 5 days ago by soapy
Great classic movie! Not many like this that force the viewer to think critically rather than emotionally.Published 5 days ago by Walter and Glynnon Wiggins
Classic black & white....I saw this when I was only 12 years old 50 years ago...it made me decide to be against death penalty for the rest of my life.... Read morePublished 7 days ago by Louise D.
|Topic||From this Discussion|
The 50th Anniversary Edition that was released on 3/4/08 is anamorphic.
Jun 5, 2008 by James A. Kronenberg | See all 5 posts
|2 Discs for 12 Angry Men (Decades Collection)?||
The MGM "Decades Collection" (1950s through 1980s) 2-Disc set includes the movie on disc 1 and a music CD as disc 2 of hit popular & rock songs of that decade. It is sales gimmick since the movies are usually non-anamorphic transfers, meaning they do not blow up to fully fit the new 16... Read More
Jul 16, 2015 by The Professor | See all 3 posts