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12 Angry Men
Crime, Drama, Mystery
IMDB rating:
Sidney Lumet
Martin Balsam as Juror #12
John Fiedler as Juror #12
Lee J. Cobb as Juror #12
E.G. Marshall as Juror #12
Jack Klugman as Juror #12
Edward Binns as Juror #12
Jack Warden as Juror #12
Henry Fonda as Juror #12
Joseph Sweeney as Juror #12
Ed Begley as Juror #12
George Voskovec as Juror #12
Robert Webber as Juror #12
Storyline: The defense and the prosecution have rested and the jury is filing into the jury room to decide if a young man is guilty or innocent of murdering his father. What begins as an open-and-shut case of murder soon becomes a detective story that presents a succession of clues creating doubt, and a mini-drama of each of the jurors' prejudices and preconceptions about the trial, the accused, and each other. Based on the play, all of the action takes place on the stage of the jury room.
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A Tale of Justice and Truth
One of the best known courtroom dramas since "To Kill a Mockingbird" starring the great Henry Fonda in a tale of justice and the search for truth. A young boy has been accused of murder of his abusive father and now it's up to 12 men to decide if the boy will live or be sent to the electric chair. 11 men believe the defendant is guilty, but one lone juror (played stoically by Fonda) is convinced that the boy is innocent of the murder. Also starring Lee J. Cobb as the antagonistic and angry Juror #3 who harbors personal hatreds, John Fiedler as the meek Juror #2. Jack Klugman as Juror #5 who was raised in the slums, Martin Balsam as the Foreman of the jury and many more make up this panel of unique personalities. The film is packed with tension, anger and mostly importantly a tale of morals and its importance on human judgment. A truly wonderful film by famed director Sidney Lumet with a memorable cast.
Definitely Deserves the Praise
This film is nothing short of perfection. I don't want to do a huge review so I'll sum up why it's so brilliant.

Great actors Great believable script Very original concept Shot cleverly (lack of close ups unless it's really necessary. Because the effect isn't used much, it is more effective) No complaints or plot holes of any kind.

I encourage anyone to watch this film!
Communications Skills
All of the drama this movie has to offer stems from the fact that one juror could express his opinions better than any of the other jurors.

Those with poor communications skills gave the viewer a false impression that they were shallow people who formed an opinion based on reasons other than the merits of the trial.

The question that must be answered throughout the movie is: Should a juror's personal limitations in expressing himself bottle up solid evidence in deciding whether a defendant is guilty or innocent?
An absolute must for anyone who considers themselves a film buff
This is one of the greatest films ever made...period. Much of this can be attributed to the exceptional writing and much of this can be attributed to the amazing performances in one of the best ensemble casts in film history. In fact, anyone who considers themselves a film buff or a serious student of film cannot say so unless they have seen this film. I also wish all young directors and writers were forced to watch the film as it demonstrates the power of excellent writing and acting. Imagine...a film that is great that does NOT have special effects, was filmed in black and white, and 99% of which takes place in one small room.

Aside from Henry Fonda, all the other actors are a virtual "who's who" of supporting character actors from the 1950s--and all were at the top of their game in this film. Unfortunately, the film has been parodied and copied so many times that the film's originality has been blunted. Oddly, one of the parodies of this plot came from the TV show "The Odd Couple"--which starred Jack Klugman who was ALSO in 12 ANGRY MEN! See this film. And, if it turns out you don't like it, then I suggest you see a psychiatrist!!!
Simple but great.
'12 Angry Men' is an outstanding film. It is proof that, for a film to be great, it does not need extensive scenery, elaborate costumes or expensive special effects - just superlative acting.

The twelve angry men are the twelve jurors of a murder case. An eighteen-year-old boy from a slum background is accused of stabbing his father to death and faces the electric chair if convicted. Eleven of the men believe the boy to be guilty; only one (Henry Fonda) has doubts. Can he manage to convince the others?

The court case provides only a framework, however. The film's greatness lies in its bringing-together of twelve different men who have never met each other before and the interaction of their characters as each man brings his own background and life experiences into the case. Thus, we have the hesitant football coach (Martin Balsam), the shy, uncertain bank clerk (John Fiedler), the aggressive call company director (Lee J. Cobb), the authoritative broker (E.G. Marshall), the self-conscious slum dweller (Jack Klugman), the solid, dependable painter (Edward Binns), the selfish salesman (Jack Warden), the calm, collected architect (Fonda), the thoughtful, observant older man (Joseph Sweeney), the racially bigoted garage owner (Ed Begley), the East European watchmaker (George Voskovec) and the beefcake advertising agent (Robert Webber) who has plenty of chat and little else.

Almost the entire film takes place in just one room, the jury room, where the men have retired to consider their verdict. The viewer finds him or herself sweating it out with the jury as the heat rises, literally and metaphorically, among the men as they make their way towards their final verdict. Interestingly, the jurors (apart from two at the end) are never named. They do not need to be. Their characters speak for them.

Henry Fonda is eminently suitable and excellently believable as the dissenter who brings home the importance of a jury's duty to examine evidence thoroughly and without prejudice. Joseph Sweeney is delightful as Juror No. 9, the quiet but shrewd old man who misses nothing, whilst E.G. Marshall brings his usual firmness and authority to the role of Juror No. 4. All the actors shine but perhaps the best performance is that of Lee J. Cobb as Juror No. 3, the hard, stubborn, aggressive, vindictive avenger who is reduced to breaking down when forced to confront the failure of his relationship with his own son.

Several of the stars of '12 Angry Men' became household names. Henry Fonda continued his distinguished career until his death in 1982, as well as fathering Jane and Peter. Lee J. Cobb landed the major role of Judge Henry Garth in 'The Virginian'. E.G. Marshall enjoyed a long, reputable career on film and t.v., including playing Joseph P. Kennedy in the 'Kennedy' mini-series. Jack Klugman was 'Quincy' whilst John Fiedler voiced Piglet in the 'Winnie The Pooh' films and cartoons.

Of the twelve, only John Fiedler, Jack Klugman and Jack Warden* are still alive. Although around the eighty mark, they are all still acting. The film was still available on video last year and it is shown on t.v. fairly frequently. I cannot recommend it too highly!

(*John Fiedler died June 2005. Jack Warden died July 2006.)
12 Angry Men, 1 Happy Me
I rarely say a film is perfect, but this one just might. If you haven't seen it yet, turn off your laptop or whatever, go to the nearest store that sells DVDs (I have no idea if it exists in BluRay) and buy it (downloading is bad !). Then, sit on your freaking couch and watch the darn film ! (Or whatever, just see it ASAP).

This "huis-clos" is absolutely brilliant ! The acting's great, the plot is smart, the characters' portraits throughout the movie are very interesting (mostly because they're all different).

I have waited a long time before seeing it, never quite finding the motivation to do so. I really can't explain why ! Maybe partly because I was afraid it would have aged too much... but I was entirely wrong.

I had seen a play with the same plot, and loved it as well. I'm glad I finally watched the film, and I invite you to do the same !
No bombs, no car chases but edge of the seat stuff none the less
This film is superb, in fact as Shakespeare once said "Its the bees' knees". The film captivates the audience from the beginning. Each of the twelve jurors are introduced to us as they are introduced to themselves. The characters are well draw out and individual, each with his own personality.

The tension of the characters draws the audience in from the start. We imagine that the case is open and shut, 11 me saying guilty and 1 not. We feel the discomfort of Henry Fonda as the other characters belittle and mock how he can see any reasonable doubt in the case. But we also share his victories and the enthusiasm as he proceeds to refute or add doubt to the arguments for guilty and are captivated and draw in as other jurors begin to see doubt in the proceedings.

The audience can also see the arguments for guilty and wonder if Fonda's character is correct in saying that he doubts. Yet they also feel the shame of the characters as he disproves that a previously sound theory is iron tight, joining his side as members of the jury do.

On top of this they are wonderfully woven in human elements such as the misconceptions that influence people and the growing tension between different characters. This is brought to life even more by the amazing performances, Fonda, Lee J Cobb and Joseph Sweeney are of particular note.

I started watching this film on a bored relaxed laying about day but by the end i was on the edge of the seat with my hands on my knees feeling more tense than a politician on results day.

How a film should be made. Modern directors take note(thats ur telling off for the day) 10/10
Benefit of Hindsight
(Spoilers) I really liked the message of the movie: A lot of times things that look crystal clear at first glance, upon deeper inspection, aren't so clear. The acting was top-notch all-around, especially with Juror #9. The product ends up being not very preachy, which is a considerable achievement given that it's built entirely around a simple parable.

With the benefit of hindsight, though, one can see a few things about this that I personally find really disturbing.

The question that drives the movie is whether the jurors have properly awarded the defendant the benefit of any reasonable doubt, and as the climax approaches, the attention given to this reaches a fevered pitch. Left behind in the dust, is the equally critical question of whether the defendant is really guilty. There's a scene early on when Jack Warden, the juror who just wants to get the voting over with so he can watch a ball game, meets Henry Fonda in the washroom. The last two lines in that scene discuss the possibility that the boy may be acquitted, even though he is guilty. Fonda says something to the effect of "that very well may be" or some such, and to my recollection this is the last time this possibility is even considered.

The jury may have released a murderer onto the streets. You can make the argument that with the presence of reasonable doubt, this was their job. I agree. But as Henry Fonda walks down the courthouse steps to resume his everyday life as an architect, would it really then be fitting to have the happy "a wrong has been righted" swelling-orchestra music, as our hero walks proudly among his fellow citizens with his head held high? Doubt or no, conviction or no, this kind of peace-of-mind is not lying in wait for you after your last day on a real jury. There are jurors who want it anyway, and because of that, will not convict anyone. They have seen this movie, and want to be Henry Fonda. I've served with them. It's a pretty serious problem.

There is a short speech given by Fonda shortly after he is revealed to be the one juror who wants to acquit. Several times in the speech he makes the point that the defendant is poor, has had a rough background, and has been beaten up a lot. It is not entirely clear where he is going with this, since the movie is supposed to be about what is reasonable doubt, and how the doubt applies regardless of economic class. There is at least one other juror who wants to convict because the defendant is poor; does Fonda mean to say with a defendant who was wealthier, he himself would have voted to convict? That doesn't seem likely at all. But then why bring it up? It means something to other jurors, but it isn't supposed to mean anything to Fonda. The only way it could support any of Fonda's arguments, is if he was making decisions based on the way those decisions made him feel about himself, rather than based on the evidence. This is something jurors aren't supposed to do.

Four years after this movie was made, the Supreme Court defined the Exclusionary Rule in Mapp v. Ohio. So by this time, you weren't supposed to convict anyone unless you knew they were guilty beyond any reasonable doubt, and in addition to that, if you knew too much, then you still couldn't convict. During the sixties, conviction became such an unlikely goal even when the evidence seemed compelling, that a lot of District Attorneys refused to make arrests even though they knew a suspect posed a significant danger to society.

By the seventies, Americans were so fed-up with the "justice system failing us" that they began turning politicians out of office in bulk, hoping against hope they could fix what was broken before their own children were murdered or their wives were raped. Between Vietnam and Watergate, this was a third salvo against our fragile faith in government, and it was an erosion of our trust that we don't talk about too much today.

What really concerns me is that a little while after this film was made, with the poorest Americans being forced to live among violent people and thus becoming increasingly interested in vigilantism, suddenly we had a huge surge in movies about "Taking the law into your own hands." Dirty Harry, Death Wish, and countless made-for-TV projects. In summary, the pendulum swung in one direction, then a few years later, the other. Hollywood got to make money both times.

I have trouble getting completely behind this film because it's a concentrated effort, ultimately a successful one, to get that pendulum swinging wildly. If we spent that relatively short amount of time, just fifteen years or so, leaving "revolution" out of it and reforming our justice system in baby steps, the mistakes of the past could have been avoided. I do not know if it was possible to fix what was broken back then, by doing this -- convictions weren't always carefully considered back in the 1950's & earlier. But a lot of innocent people would be alive today if all those violent felons, in subsequent years, were arrested like they should have been.

I would say, if you're going to serve on a jury, by all means rent this because it's a very meticulous and passionate reminder of your civil duty, it makes some great points, and everything in this movie is highest-quality. But also on your required-viewing list would be Primal Fear, the Richard Gere movie. Better yet, watch that one last, so the final scene really sticks in your mind.

Nobody should be serving on a jury, if they can't seriously consider the consequences of releasing people who are really guilty of violent crimes.
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win
12 Angry man, you will be the 13th, Yes I am true. One man stands against the rest and argues that the boy may not be guilty.

Henry Fonda plays one of juror who does not feel the boy was guilty with the evidence provided. The movie revolves around the scenario of his reasonable doubts with the evidences and that makes other jurors to get convinced. At first the other men were demanding, impatient and rude. But Henry stands still with his doubts and put them on to the other jurors.

12 Angry Man is one of the greatest films ever made. It will grab your attention from the start and make you sit down and think long after you finish watching.

My rating 10/10. Will appear in my Top 100.

Strongly recommended.
Supposing we get it wrong ?
The plot of this film unfolds entirely in a claustrophobic and uncomfortably hot jury room. The twelve angry men of the title are jurors and must decide the fate of a young man accused of killing his father. It does not help his case that he is poor and Hispanic, and not even the tone of voice of the Judge in the case seems to hold out any hope when giving instructions to the jury about their forthcoming deliberations. The evidence to convict, and thus send the man to the electric chair is overwhelming, and the first vote taken by the jurors is 11:1 to convict. Then Juror No 8 (Fonda) starts dissecting the evidence piece by piece in an almost forensic analysis of the facts. Is everything as it seems ? Of course not. The whole film is built around the concept of reasonable doubt and whether our individual prejudices will allow us to see it. The film offers no safe answer, as even the juror who was completely dispassionate about the whole affair turns out to be mistaken. A tour de force performance by Fonda as the Liberal everyman we all wish we could be, but with excellent performances all round, particularly from E G Marshall as the composed and evidence-led Juror No 4, and a scene stealer from Lee J Cobb as Juror No 3. This film is an object lesson in film making. The tension, which ratchets up nicely throughout the film as each successive vote is taken, is created entirely by the friction between the twelve protagonists. We are presented with a cross section of American society in the sixties, and undoubtedly we will agree with some of their perspectives and disagree with others, although in fairness to Lumet the unsympathetic characters are not difficult to spot and there are some powerful moments as their true characters are revealed. There is a valid question raised in the middle of the movie by Fonda's character: there is a man's life at stake: shouldn't they take some time to talk about it ? After all, supposing they get it wrong ? I think that whether you come away from this movie as a champion of the jury system will depend on whether you believe that your peers are indeed "twelve good men and true" as the one point this movie does make is that while the jury system is all we have, it is far from foolproof, an can easily be derailed by ignorance and prejudice. In this case, however it doesn't and this leads me to suggest an interesting aside. I believe that if this film was made again for a modern audience, and here I am also discounting the 1997 remake, so let's say a 2012+ audience, the director might wish to provide an ending where the Fonda character does not win through in the end, and the petty arguments and prejudices of the majority of the jury are too powerful to be overturned. However, for it's time and place, this is an almost perfect film, filled with excellent performances, and a Hollywood morality tale ending where goodness and common sense win through in the end. No wonder Fonda allows himself a Mona Lisa smile as he walks away from the Court House at the end of the movie. Brilliant.
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