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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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One of the top Five movies I'm ever likely to see in my life time and made 21 years before I was born.
12 men unknown to each other come together for one day and leave at the end of the say, perhaps never to see each other again, but what they learn about the accused and themselves makes for one of the greatest films ever seen.

The dialog, the facial expressions, the backgrounds of these people and how it affects their thinking is fantastic.

If you've never seen it and you call yourself a movie buff, you don't know what you're missing.

Most of these actors went on to great thing in their professions and it takes a very simple yet effective movie like this to showcase their acting talents.
The Best Courtroom-Drama Ever Made!
To Kill a Mockingbird garner the reputation as the best courtroom drama as it ranks the highest on most lists. It is a great film, I'll admit, but 12 Angry Men blows it out of the water. Funny thing is, this takes place in one room for 98% of the whole movie. There's about one minute in the actual courtroom in the beginning and one minute outside the building at the end. The rest is in the room where the jurors decide whether or not the defendant is guilty. When a movie takes place inside one room throughout the whole movie, the script has to be extremely strong and exciting. 12 Angry Men's script is those. It follows 12 very distinctive jurors who know that a Spanish-American youth murdered his father. All evidence gathered points to him, so all think that they can reach a guilty verdict right away. But Juror #8 (Fonda) is the only one that thinks the kid is innocent. One by one, Juror #8 convinces the eleven others that the young man is not guilty as they carefully analyze the evidence they were given. Each piece of evidence that is turned around is sheer genius and very thrilling. I actually consider this to be a courtroom- thriller because of how exciting it is. I found my heart rate rising at the site of each piece f the puzzle being put together. I could only imagine how this movie would have turned out if Alfred Hitchcock directed it. Fun fact: only two jurors' names are revealed at the very end, with the audience forgetting they do not know anybody else's names. Aside from this being very thrilling and educational, and having a great script and characters, it deals with themes of racism and family, as both play important roles on why the Jurors vote "guilty" in the first place.

Scale of 1-10: 11/10!
Great actors; somewhat preachy script; still worth watching
I won't repeat the details of the plot as many comments above summarize the plot and even the 12 jurors in depth...

Briefly, Fonda's character challenges the rest of the 12 man jury to take time to reexamine the evidence before they send a very young man to the mandatory death sentence.

A fair challenge. Even tho the case (as one juror argues ) seem so "open and shut".

Here, the best thing about the film (to me) is the use of logic. Why? As the 12 men examine each bit of proof, they discover several possible logical flaws or false assumptions. Sound too dry? Not the way it is presented.

My criticism is that Fonda's character is just too perfect, too right and (for most of the movie) too free from perspiration, unlike the rest in that hot jury room.

Fonda early questions some jurors as to whether there's any possibility for error. If he said "It's possible" one more time, I was going to scream. (I remember various evil characters getting off on slim technicalities...! ) But fortunately, his questioning leads others to question evidence and to find REAL doubt that the testimony, etc. is valid.

Their use of logic to pick out the evidentiary flaws is fascinating. Thus, this is still an excellent movie worth watching!
Finely tuned
First of all, what a cast! Fonda doesn't seem like much of a New Yorker, but the rest of the cast reads like a Who's Who in New York movies. All of them except Sweeney and Voscovek went on to lengthy careers in character and support roles.

The plot comes from a TV show and is very tightly written. There's hardly a wasted word or an unnecessary gesture. This has its drawbacks because it imposes a dramatic frame on the characters and the development. There's not much sense of "real life" here. Everything fits together too neatly for that. But if events follow earlier events with a logic that is a bit obvious, it's forgivable because the screenplay is done so well. Like "Stagecoach," it may be mechanical but it's as finely tuned as a good wristwatch.

Also more or less unavoidable in a short movie dealing with a dozen often conflicting characters is the reduction in their complexity. Each is a stereotype. They practically wear sweatshirts with logos on them. "I AM A SHALLOW AD MAN." "BORED MARMALADE SALESMAN HERE." "KICK ME, I AM AN IGNORANT RACIST." They are capable of changing their opinions but they show only one side of their characters.

A third unfortunate quality in the script is that it is imbued with what Tom Wolfe referred to as "nostalgie de la bou" -- a kind of admiration for the lowbrow. Pauline Kael made the same observation back in the early 60s in an essay called "Fantasies of the Art House Audience." What it boils down to is a dislike of the middle-class. Fonda is an architect, a professional. The other good guys in the movie are members of minority groups or ordinary working stiffs with slum backgrounds.

The two most repulsive villains (Ed Begley and Lee J. Cobb) are self-made men who run their own successful businesses. The rufescent Begley has a line, something like, "I got ten factories going to pot while we're talking' here." Cobb brags about how he built up his delivery business starting out with nothing. A third dummy is a SALESMAN -- of marmalade! (Yukk.)

Okay. That gets pretty much all of the weaknesses out of the way. The pluses outweigh the minuses by exactly two short tons. The acting is almost impossible to improve upon, not surprisingly. It's unfair to single out Jack Warden and Martin Balsam for their performances but I'll do it anyway.

The photography, by Boris Kaufman, is perceptive and adds to the tension, the feeling of claustrophobia. Especially memorable is the scene in which most of the jurors are standing together, there is a rumble of thunder, and a shadow falls gloomily over the group. It's a small touch but palpable.

Lumet manages to suggest New York City effectively in this crowded room, practically the only set. (There is a shot at the end that is done on the steps of the real Courthouse.) Lumet's direction makes the most of his actors' talents. The pauses in their arguments last just long enough for us to take a few breaths.

Rose's script avoids an easy ending. Yes, there is reasonable doubt enough for the verdict to turn out as it does, but there is no dramatic introduction of crucial evidence to demonstrate that the defendant is innocent. Did he do it? We don't know. Suppose the kid actually did it and gets away with it? Fonda is twice challenged on that point -- once at the table and once in the men's room -- and in neither instance does he have a reply.

Overall, it's a marvelous movie, a lesson in acting, directing, writing, and shooting. The recent updated version has been made politically correct but is not an improvement over this original. See it if you have the chance.
How can one film be so good and so bad
This is an excellent film. This is an awful film, It is both things at the same time. I watched this movie recently with the knowledge that its considered one of the all time greats but just found myself getting annoyed. While the acting was without doubt superb and the atmosphere was so well crafted you could almost smell the sweat coming off the 12 men and feel the heat and pressure of the approaching storm. I was Stunned with the stupidity of the plot, Anybody who has watch any courtroom drama will understand my point when I say everything that Henry Ford ask the other jury members to consider should have and would have been raised in the courtroom by even the most incompetent of legal teams, The old lady and her glasses, and the slow walking old man being the two most obvious but not the only point in question. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. Therefore only a 5 out of 10 rating from me, but a fair rating I think you will agree.
No Dissonance
This film deserves to be on anyone's list of top films. My problem is that it is so perfect, so seamlessly polished, it is hard to appreciate the individual excellences.

The acting is top notch. I believe that monologue acting is quite a bit simpler than real reactive ensemble acting. Most of what we see today is monologues pretending to be conversations. But in this film, we have utter mastery of throwing emotions. Once the air becomes filled with human essence, it is hard to not get soaked ourselves as the camera moves through the thick atmosphere. Yes, there are slight differences in how each actor projects (Fonda internally, Balsam completely on his skin...) but the ensemble presents one vision to the audience.

The writing is snappy too. You can tell it was worked and worked and worried, going through several generations. It is easy to be mesmerized by this writing and acting, and miss the rare accomplishment of the camera-work. This camera is so fluid, you forget you are in one room. It moves from being a human observer, to being omniscient, to being a target. It is smart enough to seldom center on the element of most importance, so expands the field to all men.

This is very hard. Very hard, to make the camera human. So much easier to do what we see today -- acknowledge the machinery and jigger with it. Do we have a filmmaker today who could do this?

Ted's Evaluation -- 4 of 3: Every cineliterate person should experience this.
A Powerful Film
This is a powerful film that explores: Race, discrimination, prejudice, morals, personal issues and unresolved anger.

The film was released in 1957 and is one of the highest rated films on which is one reason I've always wanted to see it. However, the main reason is because it's a film that has always been mentioned throughout my Psychology lectures relating to the power of the minority vote and also the psychology behind the jury.

Quick summary: The film is based on a murder trial; the accused, if found guilty, will be sentenced to death. The verdict is to be decided by 12 men who are on the jury. 11 of the men believe the accused is guilty, one does not.

The film is over one hour and a half and is mainly filmed in the deciding room of the 12 jurors, yet I was transfixed throughout. The film may be in black and white, but do not let this put you off from watching it. It makes you question everything you believe in; what would you do in that situation? Would you have initially voted guilty? Would you have been prejudiced towards the accused? Would you have stood for what you believed in?

The ending was brilliant and a pinnacle moment in film history; I believe the entire film proves that one person can question what you believe in and make you reevaluate your life and your morals.

Please watch this, I think it's a film that explores so many issues; even if you are interested in subjects such as Psychology, Sociology or even Law itself I think you will find it interesting.

Wonderful character portrayals, but too preachy
Henry Fonda is the star here, but the other roles are filled by legendary character actors. To see Lee Cobb, Jack Klugman, Jack Warden, and Ed Begley all doing there thing at the same time is a joy. My main problem with the movie is that it is soooo preachy. The scene is painted in black and white, there are few shades of gray. Most of the character are stereotypes-- ie, the bigot, the bully, the nerd, the immigrant, the glad-handing but uncaring salesman, etc. It is a tribute to the fine actors that they bring such one-dimensional characters to life. And shining through it all is the oh so good man who has right, justice, and the American way on his side. The self-righteousness is a bit cloying, and I almost expect Fonda to have a halo over his head. That being said, it is enjoyable for the acting and a must see for those who have missed it so far.
Another vote.
It's a quiet afternoon here in Nicosia so i decided to sip on my coffee and watch the old time classic 12 Angry Men, I won't go into deep details because i'm still amazed by the performances in the movie. A movie with a minimum budget and filming on the same location it's an exceptional thing to do in the 50's where the film critics and movie people where expecting the 'getaway' film look where they could express themselves and not just watching some guys talking in the same room. But guess what? This is a movie about 12 guys just talking in the same room for 1 and a half hours and that's what makes this movie a complete masterpiece, A jury of 12 man deciding on the fate of an 18 year old boy whether he is innocent or guilty. It's a must watch, this movie will be remembered for some a good amount of centuries to go. Recommended for all audiences. I will write a full review of the movie soon as well as i rewatch it.
One of those classic black and white films that has to be seen!
12 Angry Men is a film that deals with a number of issues including racism, justice, and standing up for what we believe is right. The acting is amazing and the story is even a better.

The main conflict is the decision 12 men must make about the fate of a young African American man who has been accused of murdering his father in cold blood with a knife. It seems to be quite obvious to the majority of the jurors that the kid is guilty, except for one man. When the men vote on the guilt of the buy, it is 11 guilty, 1 not guilty.

As the film moves forward, we see the one man (juror #8) fight as hard as he can for what he believes to be right.
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