Customer Review

93 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the elusive truth, February 20, 2005
This review is from: 12 Angry Men (DVD)
Having recently had a jury duty experience that was equally as contentious as the one depicted in "Twelve Angry Men," I found this film fascinating, and one that maintains its interest because of the taut, well written script (by Reginald Rose, based on his play for TV), and some of the finest character actors of mid-20th century cinema, and though Henry Fonda was a big star when this was made in 1957, he blends in to be part of what is essentially an ensemble acting piece.
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.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 28, 2014 12:05:05 PM PDT
As a lawyer (UK and US), I can tell you that in criminal trials as depicted in the film 12 Angry Men, finding the Truth is not the aim of the American Criminal System. Rather, the issue is whether the prosecution has established guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt". Henry Fonda's character and other characters reviewed the evidence and planted reasonable doubt in the minds of the other jurors. When there is a finding of reasonable doubt, the defendant goes free. It is not a question of whether there was evidence to show the truth of the crime charged.
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