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Crime, Drama, Mystery
IMDB rating:
Sidney Lumet


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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
12 Angry Men 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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12 Angry Men: A Classic Work of Genius
12 Angry Men is a 1957 American drama film with elements of film noir, adapted from a teleplay of the same name by Reginald Rose. Written and co-produced by Rose himself and directed by Sidney Lumet, this trial film tells the story of a jury made up of 12 men as they deliberate the guilt or acquittal of a defendant on the basis of reasonable doubt. In the United States, a verdict in most criminal trials by jury must be unanimous. The film is notable for its almost exclusive use of one set: with the exception of the film's opening, which begins outside on the steps of the courthouse followed by the judge's final instructions to the jury before retiring, two short scenes in an adjoining washroom, and a brief final scene on the courthouse steps, the entire film takes place in the jury room. The total time spent outside the jury room is three minutes out of the full 96 minutes of the film.

12 Angry Men explores many techniques of consensus-building, and the difficulties encountered in the process, among a group of men whose range of personalities adds intensity and conflict. No names are used in the film: the jury members are identified by number until two of them exchange names at the very end, the defendant is referred to as "the boy", and the witnesses as "the old man" and "the lady across the street".

In 2007, 12 Angry Men was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and is often seen as one of the greatest films ever made.
blown away...
I just watched this for the first time, ashamed to admit that the IMDb ranking was the first I'd heard of it. My excuse is that I am not American, and not a "die-hard" classic films fan. That being said, I really prefer movies with intelligence and a good realistic plot.

Now the movie itself... I was sitting 1,5 hours captivated by a black/white feature all taking place in one room with just talking...

The reason for this was the amazing acting by everyone involved. The characters really grab you, and you hang on every word. It is clear that these actors were "forced" to be more skillful, they had no special effects to cover their shortcomings.

It was like watching a room full of Daniel Day Lewis' going full blast for 90 min... anyway, that's what I thought of it :)

(and by the way, any remake of MUST cast DDL as that last, angry juror ;))
So Simple, So Brilliant
So simple yet so brilliant, 12 ANGRY MEN is not to be missed. It's the tale of the meticulous Mr. Davis, a juror not quite convinced of a murder suspect's guilt despite what appears to be overwhelming evidence. His questions gradually persuade his fellow jurors that things aren't always as open-and-shut as they might seem.

One of the great all-time ensemble casts highlights 12 ANGRY MEN. Henry Fonda is superb as the hardcore skeptic... but then again, everyone is superb, from Joseph Sweeney as the eldest juror to E.G. Marshall as the no-nonsense Juror #4. Anytime a film set almost exclusively at a single cramped table in a single cramped room can spellbound the viewer, you know you've got first-rate actors. The clever, colorful dialog is a treat as well.

Yet the strongest asset of 12 ANGRY MEN is the demands it makes of the viewer to think critically. Initially we are like most of the jurors, curious as to how Fonda can be so naive to think the young suspect may be innocent. But he gradually pulls us into his line of reasoning, challenging our assumptions and finding fault with the supposed facts. By the film's end, we're left wondering how we could have been so narrow-minded just 90 minutes earlier.

As sharp as what's on screen is, 12 ANGRY MEN is equally smart for what it does not show. Many of today's filmgoers would demand flashback sequences to depict what the characters describe. They would want to get to know the accused killer so they could judge him for themselves. They would want more action, more pizazz, and changes of scenery. Yet it's precisely the film's refusal to do any of this that makes it work so well. The viewer is effectively the 13th juror with nothing but recollections of testimony to go on. Our imaginations are free to create a picture of the alleged murder, just as we would have to as part of the jury.

12 ANGRY MEN is often cited as one of the greatest films ever. It's a verdict that is well deserved.
Sixty years later and still better movie hasn't been made
I wanted to take a while before writing anything about 12 Angry Men. Before I saw this movie I had been thinking about how can a black & white movie, made in the 50's and shot almost entirely in one room, be fifth on IMDb? Now, after seeing it, I'm thinking about why is it not rated even higher. In this review I'm going to try to explain what makes this movie so brilliant.

First, have you noticed how this movie feels so natural? Not even once was I feeling bored or exhausted. Everything runs so smoothly, constantly making you more interested in what had really happened. One of the factors which makes this so is interrupting serious debate with brief and sometimes longer scenes which don't contribute to understanding the topic. Nothing is omitted. This dynamic (which Hollywood nowadays doesn't utilize) serves as a mean to present that humans don't operate as computers. We are intrinsically flawed and able to enjoy, be serious or disdain certain situation. Recall, for example, scene in the bathroom, talking about sports, playing with fan, etc. This gives viewer some space and time to think about what had been said. You can make your own judgment and defragment all information. Viewer thus becomes a sort of a "13-th juror" actively participating in a conversation.

Second, this movie raises serious questions about how can we know anything about historical events. How do you evaluate and interpret given evidence? There are two schools about the topic: first claims that one can never objectively construct sequence of events because of our subjective nature; second claims that we can objectively assert what really did happen. This two approaches make much sense in 12 Angry Men. Some jurors are unable to objectively asses the evidence because they are very restrained by their own feelings or prejudices. The way they interpret the material is thus very biased (Juror #8: "It's always difficult to keep personal prejudice out of a thing like this. And wherever you run into it, prejudice always obscures the truth.") The point is that every one of jurors (including the viewer) is biased but they take different approaches to the problem. This leads us to third point.

Everything said above lead us naturally to the problem of jurisdictional decision making. The most important thing here is the term of reasonable doubt. Some of the jurors don't actually understand what does that mean so they can't handle the problem well. It somewhat scary thinking about how can twelve men from different backgrounds, of which some don't event understand or care about the case, make a decision about someones' life. If the juror is not convinced beyond reasonable doubt (not any doubt!), than he's obliged not to accuse defendant guilty. Reasonable doubt is the highest burden of proof one has to surmount if he's to accuse someone guilty. That's an important difference between exact sciences and law approach as one of the jurors notices (Juror #12: "Oh, come on. Nobody can know a thing like that. This isn't an exact science.") So we see jurors one by one changing their belief when their certainty drops below reasonable doubt. This takes us to the next point.

Let's take a closer look on the particular order each of the jurors voted not guilty. First you have a guy who just wanted to take a closer look at the evidence. He lit a spark. Then you have an old man wanting to hear why others think the accused is guilty. One by one the change their minds. The last ones where a guy who had prejudices about "street children" and the juror who was shouting all the time. This was done intentionally. People who had personal problems with something or someone are always hardest to engage in objective discussion about the issue. Forgiveness is a cure, not turning back on it. Nobody convinced the last juror to change his mind; he convinced himself after seeing a picture of his son. It's like his heart (not mind as with others) couldn't take it anymore. Juror before him had general prejudices. Those people can have a hard heart but are more easy to engage than those with personal problems. He realized his mistake after everyone had started to ignore him. Those with personal problems must confront them by themselves; those with prejudices must confront with others. So the conclusion is that it's harder to confront with someone whose problems lie in their heart than with those whose problems lie in their mind.

Closing remarks: Table has always been an important component in our western culture. It's a place where all important decisions are made and where people get to eat and drink and know each other. That's why one the last shots is camera smoothly running over the table jurors where sitting at. Someone was there and something happened. It's a contrast to the last scene where we see Fonda leaving the building and disappearing into the crowd. Twelve men, who had never seen each other previously and don't even know each others names, with completely different backgrounds and profiles, accidentally sat together and did something important. Now they continue on, probably never seeing each other again. But table stands as a witness.

There are many other elements left to be analyzed. It's better to speak about them sitting at the table discussing with other people than reading a review. I hope this general description of the movie mechanic helps someone understand what lies underneath the hood or makes her or him approach this movie with more scrutiny.
The over-used term "classic movie" really comes into its own here!
This once-in-a-generation masterpiece simply has no equal. The late 90's TV remake was quite adequate though totally unnecessary and in the upshot proved simply that updating a film for updating's sake is really an exercise in futility. Even had it BEEN as good - so what?

There could be few, if ANY film-goers reading this who are unaware of the plotline and in any event many others have re-hashed this for you. The brilliance of the film is evident in so many aspects. To begin with, the ability to not only sustain interest but to command the viewer's attention for basically its entire running time within a setting of principally just one room, borders on the inspired. Whether or not that would actually work with TODAY'S audiences is another discussion! What we have here are twelve everyday Mr Joe Blows, summoned together on a jury panel to decide a defendant's guilt or innocence with regards to a murder charge. If you were to gather unto yourselves ANY twelve jurors at random, you would most likely be able to pinpoint the Henry Fonda, Lee Cobb, E. G. Marshall, Jack Warden etc etc amongst them! Their very "ordinariness" is where the film succeeded. Everyone can identify with at least ONE of those characters. Whether or not he may WANT to is a different matter. The thinker, the sensitive man, the arrogant bully, the opportunist, the mentally challenged loudmouth, the slimeball, the emotionally withdrawn, the sheep etc - they're all here! Welcome to society folks! I dislike society in the main - doubtless a reason I found this film to be such a revelation..even when I was barely into my teens!

12 ANGRY MEN also pinpoints the shortcomings of the law, how "truth" can be so intrinsically left-field and unintentionally flawed. Lumet, working within a minimal budget here, delivers unstinting brilliance in both direction, character portrayal and script interpretation. He had of course superb acting talent at his disposal although some of the most memorable performances are from the lesser players. Some have denounced Fonda's role as being acceptable rather than awesome. I think however he was to a great degree playing himself here, not to an audience. His, is a study in deliberation and logic not show-pony stuff, but hell that never WAS Fonda was it?

This is a great great movie, as is evidenced by the extremely high user-vote worldwide. IF you haven't seen it - you really should do something about that!
true administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good
Overall I loved this movie. It shows the group-dynamics of 12 people, the jury, trying to decide if there is "reasonable doubt" concerning whether a young boy killed his father. The discussions are tense and little by little we learn from these what supposedly happened on that night the kids father died. We are therefore also drawn into the question of whether the boy did it or not ourselves and what at first seems like a clear cut case along the way becomes all of a sudden much more complicated. It is a film that dares to handle nuances and ambiguities (we are never certain of whether the boy did it or not) in a way we rarely see. Its also a movie that lets us watch these 12 angry men discuss in the same room for a full 96 minutes without it ever getting boring, which I have to respect; you really have to thrust your material to let a whole movie consist of a discussion.

The movie also tries to show how personal issues can cloud the judgments of the jurors. I am thinking about one specific juror, and although the idea, of showing us how his own personal story interferes with sound judgment, is splendid, I frankly didn't like the way it unfolded in the movie. That's why I only give this movie 8/10.

If this movie in any way is supposed to represent how the legal system work I pray to god that I will never be put in a situation where a jury have to decide my guilt in any matter.

Regards Simon
The material is slightly forced for dramatic purposes but the delivery is perfect across the board
A young ethnic kid from a rough area is up on a murder charge and to the jury of twelve men, it all seems a fairly open and shut case. So all are surprised when the votes come back with one "not guilty" in the pack. Juror #8 maintains he holds a reasonable doubt, much to the frustration of the rest of the group. The stalemate forces a debate over the details of the case which sees each man questioning others and themselves for their motivations and decisions. The heat in the room and the passage of time sees tensions rising by the minute.

I'm not a massive fan of the "Movie You Must See" podcast crew because they mostly tend to discuss the events in a film rather than really critiquing or reviewing it (although at times this "mates in a pub" approach is OK). Anyway, one of the advantages of having anyone pointing out "films you should see" is that it reminds you that you should these films. So it was for me as I listened to 12 Angry Men and realised that not only had I never reviewed it but that I had not actually watched it for many years. Of course mentally I knew it was a "classic" but did I really understand why it was? So when it came on television recently I watched it again with new eyes.

The films moves right into the jury room and pretty much this room is all we have for the duration. Initially the script does really well to have the viewer side with the majority because in the discussions the evidence does seem very clear cut and #8's doubts seem so general and non-specific. This is a good way to start because it means the viewer also has to question and we are taken along the journey just like the men in the jury. Gradually we get into the detail and doubts are tweaked out – not to the point of solving the crime because that is not what it is about but it is done in a way that is interesting and engaging. It is not perfect in this regards though because some of the jumps are big, some of the assumptions are stretching and some of the knowledge in the room is a little too convenient. However what weaknesses there are in the material are covered by the fact that the delivery is roundly quite brilliant.

Lumet directions from within the room and makes great use of such a small space. It feels like it could be a play (not sure if it was or not) but Lumet prevents this just feeling like filmed theatre. The camera captures the room, sticks close to characters, moves around, in and out accordingly and it never feels stiff. This aids the sense of tension from the audience point of view as we are not just left watching the room so much as being in it. The ensemble cast are another big factor in this delivery as they all deliver. On the surface of it the characters could easily be labelled "racist", "old", "naïve", "angry" and so on but the actors don't let themselves be that basic and they also do a good job of pacing the building resentment and tension in the room to be convincing. Fonda maybe has "top-billing" but he does have the least showy role, leading those into his corner. Cobb and Begley have good turns as the anger of the room but everyone plays their parts very well. OK Balsam, Webber and Voskovec come out the least memorable of the lot but this is understandable when viewed beside such sterling turns from Fielder, Klugman, Warden, Sweeney and Marshall. There really isn't a weak link in the room.

With modern cynical eyes it is perhaps totally hard to accept the film for its praise of the jury system and I do agree with the "MYMS" group when they made reference to the moment in H:LOTS which is essentially the bitter reverse of this film. However this slightly flag-waving stuff is covered by the delivery being as strong and as well paced as it is. Overall then this is an eminently watchable film and I can understand why it is so well regarded. The material and message may not be note-perfect but the delivery is brilliant across the board and it is one that I could easily return to again and again and still get pleasure out of how well it is all done.
The best film of it's type
There's some interesting alchemy going on in this film. While it's extremely realistic in it's look and attention to detail, it's a highly stylized and somewhat mechanical film. All the characters are clearly defined by the single aspect they bring to the scenario and they interact more like types than real people. The story doesn't show you what's on it's mind, it flat out tells you by putting the parts of it's thesis into the mouths of the characters. None of this really matters though because between it's exceptional cast and Lumet's masterful direction. what you get is a finely tuned machine of a film that's the best film ever made of it's kind. Fonda specialized in playing the voice of middle-class intellectual liberalism in the early 60's and it's largely because of his performance here.
The Lonely Juror
One does not expect an ordinary black and white movie like "Twelve Angry Men" to set the foundation for great drama. Nevertheless, superior drama is what is delivered in this film. The setting is; a common courtroom in an eastern metropolitan city where twelve ordinary men have been selected to sit as a jury. The trial is over and the verbal testimony having been heard, the jury must now decide the fate of the young man on trial for his life. A common enough occurrence in America. But what is not common, is the mixed assortment of characters assembled for the jury. The real drama unfolds when a single juror (Henry Fonda) takes his task seriously and challenges each of his fellow members to think and then decide before they vote for the death penalty. When he does, the volatile reaction is nothing short of inspirational. One can only wish the same would happen to anyone facing a similar ordeal. The cast of characters is a vintage performance from all. Henry Fonda's performance is wonderful and courageous. He is joined by veterans actors, Martin Balsam, John Fiedler, Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman, Ed Binns, Jack Warden, Joseph Sweeney, Ed Begley, George Voskovec and Robert Webber. The honor of Classic fits this film like a velvet glove. *****
What a Character-Study Is Meant to Be.
Intense courtroom drama which has 12 very different people, all males, struggling with a murder case involving a young Puerto Rican boy that seems cut-and-dried. However, juror Henry Fonda does not believe it to be as sure-fire as it appears. He votes not guilty and what follows is a chain of events that will test the views, beliefs and thoughts of the other 11 members. Fonda is great, but Lee J. Cobb steals every scene (and that is not easy to do in a film like this). Ed Begley, Martin Balsam, Jack Warden, Jack Klugman, Joseph Sweeney, E.G. Marshall and John Fiedler are among the other individuals caught in a situation that is much more difficult than it appears on the surface. An excellent character-study that should be studied and embraced by all present and future film-makers. 5 stars out of 5.
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