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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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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!
Very Entertaining
Sometimes it is very hard to describe something you like specially when it is so simple. The whole movie took place in a single room and the characters just kept on talking! If someone invites you to such a movie the first thing that will come to your mind would be "Boring"! Well its not even close to that.

The movie is extremely entertaining and uplifting. The story is very well written and keeps you tight to your chair to the end.

I read some reviews about the movie criticizing the absence of female characters also having all the jury as white men, I trust that would be understood taking in consideration it was made back in 1957.

To me it is a MUST see and deserves it rank in IMDb.
Excellent performances that stand the test of time....
I have watched this movie many times. I finally bought the DVD the other day and watched it again! The level of acting and the intensity of all the performances have, without exception, always taken my breath away. It is a movie that I love and never tire of watching.

You forget, as you watch the movie, that pretty much the entire movie takes place in one room. Movies today, actors today, would not be able to maintain the level of suspense that this movie created and hold your attention for the entire hour and 36 minutes. It starts off slowly, and you become part of the jury stuck in that "jury room", frustrated as one man holds out because "he is not sure".

Henry Fonda gives an amazing performance as the one-man holdout but all the actors give tour de force performances, and you sit mesmerized as one by one they are all converted. But it is Fonda and Lee J Cobbs, as they fight for the hearts and minds of the other jurors that keeps the tension going. The movie was a good social commentary of the times, regarding the racial intolerance, prejudices and biases that governed people in that era. And watching it again today, I would say not much has really changed!
Unsurpassed Character Study & Very Good Drama
The unsurpassed character studies of the "12 Angry Men" would almost make a movie worth seeing even if it had little else to offer. This is also a very good drama that uses everything it has to good advantage. The cast and director Sidney Lumet all do a fine job of sketching each character efficiently and memorably. Every character is important, and almost every line serves a purpose.

One interesting thing about the story is that the trial per se is almost not even particularly important. The jury setting is really just a stylized way of high-lighting many aspects of human nature and human interaction, and in particular, the varied ways that different persons respond in situations where their options are limited. The characters have a wide and well-chosen diversity of personalities and opinions, and each one's temperament and attitudes are developed as things proceed.

In performing this kind of material, it's important for the actors not to overdo it, or else the believability suffers. It's also a challenge to keep things interesting when the settings and props are so limited. But everything works very well here, and it is a credit to everyone involved.
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!
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.

great movie, but ...
I can't add much to the laudatory admiration for this movie -- I share it. A wonderful example of bare, minimal drama, based on plot and acting and characters. I think it was almost without exception a wonderfully performed movie -- Henry Fonda, Jack Klugman, all the jurors.

Here comes the only thing I think I disagree about with others who think as I do that this is a wonderful movie. I think they were wrong.

It may very well be an aside as to what the jurors were really talking about, but to me, it was very important. And Henry Fonda made, again to me, some pretty poor arguments that were to overcome the evidence that was pretty indicative that the boy did in fact kill his father.

Just as an objective look at the arguments being made, beyond the wonderful drama, the boy was guilty from all facts that were presented. Perhaps that may be the only flaw, but a fundamental one, in this very exceptional movie.
Why I love old movies...
In the days before cgi, massive hype, star-appeal, pseudo-mythic trilogies and all the other bumpf that hollywood tacks on to its product in order to make it sell, all it took to make a decent movie was to have a good script and cast, good direction and of course great acting.

These were (and still are) the only real ingredients which I'd say are essential for making a truly worthwhile movie. Everything else is just a sideshow, and I think it is a shame that so many of today's mainstream films are so flimsy. And that's why I love the classics!
A near perfect film
12 Angry Men may just be a perfect movie and if it isn't, then it's pretty damn close. I can't think of another film that was simply people in a room arguing for an hour and a half that captured my attention as much as this one did. If you can write a script that keeps people entertained by simply listening to what you wrote then you deserve limitless praise. Watching these men slowly examine every detail of the case they're given and watching them internally and externally debate whether or not the accused kid is guilty is some of the most riveting pieces of cinema that has ever been filmed. This very well could be in my top 10 favorite movies list and I cannot praise it enough. This film needs to be a required viewing for all film fans.
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.)
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