Director: Sidney Lumet
Genre: Drama/ Crime
Runtime: 96 minutes
Starring: Martin Balsam, John Fiedler, Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman, Ed Binns, Jack Warden, Henry Fonda, Joseph Sweeney, Ed Begley, George Voskovec, Robert Webber
Description: A dissenting juror in a murder trial slowly manages to convince the others that the case is not as obviously clear as it seemed in court.
Review: Talk, talk, talk. The film directed by Sidney Lumet is filled with dialogue. Sometimes the talking turns into shouting, it’s a verbal knife fight. And the dialogue is sharp and intelligent. “12 Angry Men” was his first directed film, a movie where he shows guts and talent.
The story is simple: a teenager is being accused of murdering his father. The jury has to decide whether he is guilty or not. When he is found guilty, it leads to the death penalty. All the jurors have their own reason why they think the boy is guilty or not. One just uses the facts, another lets his emotions speak. It could have been simple, but one of the jurors looks further than just the evidence and facts. In the beginning he is the only one thinks the boy is not guilty. The other jurors don’t understand, but he does manage to convince. But not every juror is that easily convinced.
“12 Angry Men” is film about justice and injustice. It’s sometimes impossible to leave your own emotions out of it, when you have to decide the faith of an accused. We see that in all of the jurors. We don’t know their names, but based on their opinions and views, we get to know them. Especially juror number three and ten stick to their opinion. They aren’t prepared to share that at the start. Juror number seven on the other hand, easily changes his opinion, because all he wants is to get out of there. Juror number eight is the one who is trying to convince the other eleven jurors and number one is trying to lead everything. It’s great to see twelve different men trying to come to one unanimous conclusion.
Besides the very first scene, the entire movie is set in one room and it’s a fascinating sight. That alone is great, but with the use of different cameras and perspectives the tension is built as well. Towards the end, when the atmosphere is grim and anguished, these are perfect tools to suck the audience in.
Lumet manages to bring out the best in the cast. Henry Fonda and Lee J. Cobb especially. It’s great to see how Fonda can keep his cool with the intense Cobb opposite of him. Cobb’s emotions are so present, you really feel it yourself. “12 Angry Men” can easily be seen as one of the highlights in movie history. They don’t make movies like this anymore. Strong acting and a subtle yet convincing tension buildup. Court dramas don’t get better than this.
Rating: 5/ 5