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RELEASED: 1957, Cert. U
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 96 mins
DIRECTOR: Sidney Lumet
PRODUCERS: Henry Fonda & Reginald Rose
SCREENPLAY: Reginald Rose
MUSIC: Kenyon Hopkins
Henry Fonda, Lee J Cobb, George Voskovec, John Fiedler, Edward Binns, Jack Klugman, E G Marshall, Ed Begley, Jack Warden, Robert Webber, Martin Balsam and Joseph Sweeney....billed as jurors nos. 1 to 12.
FILM ONLY REVIEW
It's a searing hot day....twelve men are gathered in a court ante-room to discuss the case of an 18-year-old accused of killing his father, and to reach their verdict of guilty or not guilty.
From the outset, the overall opinion of the men is that the accused is definitely guilty, this conclusion largely being reached due to him being from the slums and blindly relying on some rather shaky evidence....therefore, how can he possibly be innocent?
The discussion between the twelve jury members becomes heated when Juror No.8 (played by Henry Fonda) insists on looking at and analysing the evidence more closely with a view to determining the young man's guilt or innocence as accurately as possible, rather than making ill-thought-out assumptions arising from prejudice.
12 Angry Men for me is one of the most important films of the 1950s, one of a bunch that focused on changing social attitudes which were prevalent during that era and for some time afterwards.
As the film progresses, tempers rise....although Henry Fonda's character remains cool, unruffled, exacting and calm.
Within the jury situation, each man has a different level of flexibility and as the heated discussion evolves, some of the jurors begin to see sense in Henry Fonda's analytical methods, although they come to agree with him for different reasons. The stalwarts, who refuse to budge or give any consideration to the finer aspects and grey areas of the evidence, stand firm in their belief that the young accused must be guilty due to the type of person he is, and that the evidence given by witnesses is written in stone, not to be examined or challenged.
The idea of a whole film taking place in a court ante-room with 12 men arguing the toss could perhaps seem boring to some people, but this is definitely one of the most intriguing courtroom dramas I've ever seen. The acting, although very 1950s in style, is superb throughout by all twelve of those who played the parts of the jurors...I can't pick a favourite, as they were all brilliant in their own ways.
Probably what I like most about 12 Angry Men is that it uniquely draws attention to the fact that when anybody is called up for jury service, that person and their fellow jurors are all human beings with human failings....how many people can put hands on hearts and devoutly claim to be able to deliver jury service from a place of complete impartiality? That is where this film comes into its own, as it delves into a situation where this is happening....people voting with their guts and feet rather than starting with a clean, unbiased slate, and examining all the grey areas of the evidence as opposed to jumping to ill-thought-out conclusions, yet thankfully amongst some who have a very cavalier attitude towards who they could erroneously be sending to death row, there is one man who is able to think the whole process through in the correct manner.
Another thing I find interesting about 12 Angry Men is how various of the jurors, when things get very heated, begin to show sides of their personalities which possibly could have precluded them from being selected for jury service in the first place. I wonder how rife that actually is in the real world?
Although it seems 12 Angry Men does have a musical score due to Kenyon Hopkins being credited for writing it, apart from the opening and closing theme music, I can't say that I was at all aware of any incidental music. I'm tempted to say there is none during the film, but it's possible I could have been so caught up in this brilliant courtroom scenario that I simply didn't notice it.
It has come to my attention that there in recent years has been a re-make of 12 Angry Men, which I can't comment on as I've not seen it, but I hesitatingly say that I consider this to be one of the very few films which may be able to stand a facelift, so long as the original dialogue isn't lost or damaged by being brought up to date. On the other hand, sometimes it's preferable to let sleeping dogs lie, as gems usually stand far better when the temptation to meddle with them is resisted.
Even for those who are not generally fans of courtroom dramas, I feel certain that most people would find 12 Angry Men an absorbing, thought-provoking 96 minutes which is skilfully put together, has an intensely vibrant dialogue and is very well acted. My overall recommendation is.......watch it !!
At the time of writing, 12 Angry Men can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: from £3.13 to £24.99
Used: from £2.72 to £8.23
A delivery charge of £1.26 should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
12 angry Men, (UA, 1957), Sydney Lumet. 96 minutes
With all but a breif moment of this film taking place in the jurors deliberation room one might expect the film to be quite unremarkable, however Lumet, along with great performances by Henry Fonda and jack Klugman manage to encapsulate the excitement of the courtroom or indeed as is the case here the jury room perfectly and, without being overtly political in its manner 12 Angry Men brings the death penalty and the trial by jury into question.
Originally written as a screenplay for TV the film goes 'behind the scenes' into the jury room at a trial of a 'young boy' accused of murdering his father. At first the evidence seems overwhelming and a few of the jurors seem happy to make a quick guilty verdict sentencing the boy to death, however in an exercise of Columboesk pragmatism Fonda's character sets about questioning an reevaluating the evidence with suprising consequences. it is a hard film to give any more of the pllot without being a spoiler and as the build up of tension and suprise is a key part through the film I shall refrain from doing so.
The tension builds throughout the film which sees the opening polite exchanges being replaced by fists and flick knives. This was one of Fondas many films having perfected his skills through the b&w period of hollywood he carried on through the studio system and into new hollywood in a career spanning must be nearly 50 years. He was at his best in this film in my opinion but other favourates of mine are; The Wrong man from a couple of years prior and Once upon a time in the west.. in my humble opinion.
They don't make films like this any more, and there are several reasons, with the devlopment of colour and later special effects, the audience expectation has shifted from this format to a quicker cut type of cinema, however in my opinion 12 angry Men has aged gracefully, and as long as the deathpenalty exists in some states will always resonate as a warning..
what if Fonda's character ha just gone along with the other 11?
please don't be fooled by several remakes as in my opinion they are not a patch on Lumets adaptation.
A great film and in my top 10
Directed by Sidney Lumet (Dog Day Afternoon, Network - both great films)
Starring Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb and E. G. Marshall
Shot in black and white (but if that puts you off, you're a numpty)
The judge delivers a charge of first degree murder, a young man stands solemnly in the dock as the jurors retreat to a back room. They are certain of his guilt. An "open and shut case" one of them remarks his mind made up. Once they reach a unanimous guilty verdict, he will be put to death by electric chair and they can all go home. They do a quick straw poll but to their dismay, there is one dissenter who is hesitant to send the man so quickly to his death.
Gradually the articulate smooth-talking architect (Henry Fonda), known only by his juror number, 8 begins to sow the seeds of doubt. It soon becomes clear the jury is more diverse than they first appear. When 8 goes to the bath room to wash his face, he is confronted firstly by an impatient slimy salesmen who accuses him of doing a "soft sell" then by a house painter who responds to 8's argument conceding he's "just a workin' man. My boss does all the supposin'"
Even though we never leave the confines of the jury room (save for a few minutes), 12 Angry Men is a clearly structured, complete film with a beginning, middle and end. The dialogue is so rich and revealing resulting in fully fledged characters, yet at times satisfyingly subtle.
The multiple conflicts that occur between the drastically contrasting characters makes it so more than just about a man's life. The trial itself is just background, the ending is predictable and you can guess what's going to happen to the unfortunate accused from the outset. Instead the film is more about these twelve men, their qualities, motivations and in some cases weaknesses.
One of the most powerful scenes of the film occurs when prejudice juror number 10 finally descends into a racist rant (the defendant is only shown briefly but appears to be Italian or perhaps Hispanic) and as his anger intensifies, one by one the jurors silently leave the table and turn their back on him, leaving him confused and exasperated.
It is a moral tale of the triumph of simple honest reasoning over prejudice, bitter hatred and careless indifference as well as providing an entertaining education on consensus building.
It is understandable how the thought of watching twelve men talking in a room might appear dull but trust me, it is so much more. Twelve Angry Men is an enthralling claustraphobic drama, amazing. Give this a watch, I guarantee you won't be dissapointed.
"12 Angry Men" is without a doubt one of the most captivating courtroom dramas in the history of cinema. The funny thing is this: the events start right at the end of what people would consider to be the most interesting part of a trial - the fierce, heated argument between the prosecutor and the lawyer. But since the convicted youngster doesn't look too wealthy, it can safely be assumed that his lawyer was in fact provided for by the government and the trial itself probably didn't turn out to be much of a fun spectacle.
At this point, the audience has absolutely no idea what the case is all about but we are quickly informed that the jurors have pretty much made up their minds already and they're willing to convict the accused for murder - it almost seems they're retiring to their "discussion room" merely as a formality. No problem so far... But there's one juror (Juror #8: Henry Fonda) who's determined to look more closely at the evidence, since he can't live with the possibility of sending an innocent young man to his death. Juror #8 isn't saying that the defendant is 100% innocent, but he's just not sure whether he's 100% guilty, there's a subtle difference. The decision has to be unanimous. But because of Juror #8, the rest has to stay and discuss the case. To make matters worse, this is all taking place on a hot summer day where there's only one rusty looking fan to keep the 12 sweaty men relatively cool, and sane. As Marlon Brando would say, "the horror...the horror..."
As the jurors open up each bit of evidence one by one, the viewer is getting more and more crucial information regarding the case. We can all guess from the beginning that Henry Fonda will win out in the end but it's the process of getting there that matters hugely with "12 Angry Men." Where are the holes in the evidence that will eventually set this man free? We have to put the pieces together along with the jurors throughout and the director (Sidney Lumet) refuses to give anything away too quickly.
The frustrating atmosphere is perfectly captured: ranging from the one-room set, the heated discussions that can often develop into near fist-fights, the film constantly reminds us of the horrific conditions of the room. Sure there's a bathroom but none of them can actually get out before they ALL come to an agreement. Lumet's masterful direction gives the perfectly suspenseful, claustrophobic atmosphere with his tight angles and a hefty number of zoom-ins. You get to see the amazingly detailed expressions on everyone's faces, they're not always a comfortable sight, but this is again to remind us that everyone is frustrated, everyone is losing his patience as the minutes go by, and ultimately, everyone is angry for one reason or another.
Slowly but surely, Juror #8 starts turning people over to his side one by one, using convincing proof that this case is not as simple and straightforward as the rest believed it to be. There are the occasional loud, angry and proud men who refuse to be told that they're wrong but in the end, they do come around and realise just how idiotic and narrow-minded they've been. The level of detail this film contains is extraordinary - we get to understand the case fully and as one piece of evidence is unveiled after another, the case strengthens for Juror #8, with some outstandingly clever ideas. And this is all achieved in a single room. No flashback sequences, only using words, but conveying the past event flawlessly. This truly shows the unlimited power in its brilliant screenplay. Using much intelligence when crafting the plot, it builds up a tremendous amount of thrills and excitement, again, even more impressive since this all takes place in one room, a remarkable bit of scripting that is and always will be admired and studied.
There are 12 unique, magnificent performances that don't falter for even a minute. Every single one of them is memorable and the wide range of characters portraying various human natures as a whole is incredibly effective. By the end, any viewer will be able to connect him/herself with one of the jurors in that room. Are you the selfish one who supports the more popular guy just so that you can get out sooner? Are you the stubborn one who refuses to admit an obvious error? Are you the brave one who stands up against popular belief? Are you the one who can so easily be swayed from one side to the other? The fascinating set of characters turns this into an even more compelling watch, a wholly realistic social study as well as a legal drama.
"12 Angry Men" is a smart, gripping film that uses its plot and characters wisely and adds those outstanding qualities to the technically perfected setting. Even fifty or so years after its release, this film is still mentioned among the critics as one of the best films ever made, an entirely fair reputation this masterpiece truly deserves. How did this not win the Best Picture, Best Screenplay, or Best Director categories at the Oscars in 1958? You tell me. But winning the Golden Berlin Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival counts for something, right?
The first I heard of this film was when the 1997 remake of it came out and was recommended to me. For one reason or another, I never bothered, with this or the original, until recently. The appeal of 12 people in one room having a conversation didn't really feature for me - I imagined it to be rather boring, to be honest. That, coupled with the fact that it was all in black and white, and from 1957, settled it really.
I couldn't have been more wrong. With a brief preamble explaining the facts of a murder trial, a jury of 12 men are sent behind closed doors to discuss the case and announce their verdict. Initially, the case seems rather straightforward, and all bar one of the jurors vote guilty. Only 1 man offers a different opinion - one that actually questions the various parts of the case. This sparks off a heated debate that lasts for the rest of the film, and gives a brilliant lesson in psychology and excellent dialogue scriptwriting.
In essence, this is psychology at its best. We, as human beings, naturally veer towards the majority opinion, and also follow what seems to be the most logical. This film challenges us to go with the flow, and listen to the minority, the one man who questions what seems to be obvious. This man is Juror number 8, played by Henry Fonda, and merely poses the question of something that bothers him. It's all about proving something beyond a reasonable doubt, and slowly but surely, the case begins to crack and other members of the jury start listening to what he is saying.
I was riveted by this film. The dialogue and the way the 12 men interact develops extremely deeply, and it's not just what they say to each other, but how they say it and their body language as they say it. The film does have a murder trial as its foundation, but really it's about 12 very different men and how their beliefs and prejudices affect their interaction. Anger is a strong emotion that seems to drive them all, and as they are asked to decide whether someone has committed murder or not, the fact they think someone is guilty and one man defends him makes them angry. It's almost as if they are defiant in wanting to know why one man would defend such an obvious murderer.
However, the development of the film, relying on the raging debate, starts to hot up when one other man changes his mind, and you get the feeling that this was going to be an ongoing theme, with the rest at the very least questioning their decision, whether or not their vote actually changes. It's an incredibly well written and performed film, and although the script is good, it needs the cast to deliver. They do so very well, throwing their skills at the lines they have excellently, no exceptions. This is a film that has Fonda at its visual centre, but ultimately has 12 fine actors making it a success. You may recognise a couple of faces, but other than Fonda and Jack Warden (who played the TV doctor Quincy later on in his career) I didn't recognise anyone. This didn't matter though. They were all outstanding.
Director Sidney Lumet really set a mark for himself with this film. It was his directorial debut, and he shines. The camera angles and pauses between parts of dialogue are well timed, allowing enough time for the tension to build, and the panning shots of the camera also allow scope to see the rest of the room's reactions as two characters converse. With only 12 characters for 95% of the film, even when someone is talking, the reactions and attitudes of the others are just as important, and the camera picks them all up. Lumet proved his skill right from the start.
I thoroughly recommend this film. It kept me completely riveted throughout, and it was wonderful to watch what essentially was a social exercise in the human psyche, and how we interact with others. I can't believe I passed up an opportunity to watch this sooner, thinking it to be boring. If anything, it's the complete opposite. I'm not sure whether to bother with the remake or not, as this is such a powerful film, they would have to go a long way to recreate such magnificence. Recommended.
The film received 3 Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Director and Screen Adaptation but was unluckily up against The Bridge On The River Kwai which won 7 Oscars that year. (It is filmed in Black & White)
IMDB rate Twelve Angry Men as 9th on their all time list of movies.
On the face of it this is a story about 1 member of a 12 man jury's attempt to convince the other 11 jury members to acquit the defendant on the basis of reasonable doubt.
The 1 man (played by Henry Fonda) kind of knows that the defendant is probably guilty however as a point of principle wants to explore every possible avenue of reasonable doubt in order that justice is properly served according to the rules and to ensure that a verdict of guilty is not arbitrarily made.
However, the story isn't really about the case, the defendant or the trial; it is really about uncovering and illustrating people's own prejudices and the various factors, both personal and environmental, that drive people's viewpoints, actions, perceptions, decision making and behaviour.
There are various fascinating sub plots between various members of the jury and the whole film is totally gripping from start to finish.
This film is a real masterpiece and so incredibly good that 95% of it takes place in one room, i.e. the jury room. It is essentially a play but in film format.
The cast is of remarkable quality and the acting is exceptionally good. The cast includes:
Lee J. Cobb
E. G. Marshall
It was written by Reginald Rose and was the first ever film directed by Sidney Lumet.
Its the kind of film that has real deep meaning and despite it being made in 1957 it remains as socially and human kind relevant today as it was back then.
This film doesn't often appear on television so if you haven't seen it get it on DVD.
This review is also posted on www.ciao.co.uk
under my user name bella6789
Twelve Angry Men is one of the DVD's that I use in Psychology AS classes. I use this film as part of the social influence topic, particularly to show minority social influence (where one person or a small group changes the views or behaviour of the majority), but also to show informational conformity (how we follow the actions of the larger group when we do not know enough about a situation to make decisions for ourselves), normative conformity (where we follow the actions of the larger group to gain a sense of belonging) and the reliability of eye witness testimony (not very reliable and relied upon way too much!).
This is a black and white film, released in 1957 and starring Henry Ford. The film is shot almost entirely in a hot, claustophobic jury room and follows the decision making process of an all male jury having to decide on the guilt of an 18 year old boy charged with the murder of his father.
I show this film on an electronic whiteboard with the classroom lights off, so it is very like being at the cinema (minus the 'comfy' seats). Initially my students groan at the black and white footage. They often mutter during the first five minutes or so about it being 'boring' because the film is quite slow paced. However, after the initial 5 minute adjustment process (my students are used to colour, all action movies, special effect movies) they settle down and are soon engrossed in the film. Perhaps this is because I show it midway through the course when they have some idea about how social influence works. Perhaps it is because I've taught them how to change the behaviour of others and they are looking for the factors involved in minority influence. More likely, they become engrossed because it is a well made film that builds on a theme.......... the jury dissenter wants to talk. As another juror says, he has 'the soft sell' and my students get hooked.
There are some strange things about this film. Despite the twelve jurors being contained within a room for hours we do not find out any of their names until the very end and even then only two introduce themselves to each other. The credits never name the characters either, the film rolls at the end with the actors names typed alongside each man. I have carried out some internet research on the film and the characters have been given names such as 'mouse', 'grumpy' 'smelly' and 'angry man'.
I'm not going to say anthing more about the plot other than, after an initial vote where 11 of the jurors vote 'Guilty' and just one votes 'Not Guilty', the jurors then discuss the evidence in the case, raising doubts among themselves and making discoveries about their own prejudices and character flaws. It is a fantastic film for understanding how a minority can sway the views of a majority by being consistent in their point yet flexible enough to not appear beligerant, by making small personal sacrifices (in this case sacrificing their time) and by making no personal gain from the change in majority opinion and behaviour.
As well as recommending this film if you want to see how minority social influence works, I also recommend it for its entertainment value and the quality of the acting, including performances by Henry Ford as the lead and support from Jack Warden (who played Quincy).
Edited 10th Feb: If you watched 'Shameless' this evening then you may have spotted that the jury room scene was loosely based on Twelve Angry Men!!!
Twelve Angry Men has a premise that sounds quite frankly, rather boring. The jury in a murder case has just begun to deliberate, for eleven of those jurors this seems cut and dry; the defendant is clearly guilty as charged. However for one man, Juror number 8 (Henry Fonda), the verdict is far from clear cut. When a vote is taken the result shows eleven votes for guilty and one for not guilty which means each side must try to persuade the other of their convictions in order to attain a unanimous vote. If the plot doesn't put you off then the notion that the full 96 minutes of this movie take place in a single room could easily change your mind.
However there is a reason that Twelve Angry Men has been a stage success with several television adaptations and, with this 1957 classic, a number 10 listing on IMDB's top 250. This plot could easily become tiresome but the script and performances are both superb and, although the ending is never really in doubt, it's difficult not to be intrigued.
I've already mentioned that the ending is predictable, from the very beginning it's clear what is going to happen. The real fascination comes from the characters' motivations and the ambiguity in the defendant's guilt. There are 12 characters in this film, none of which are given names during the deliberation, each being continually developed throughout the movie. Henry Fonda's is the catalyst to the drama; his character doesn't give answers but rather asks questions of the other jurors to ascertain why they are so certain of the defendants guilt, a verdict that will ultimately result in the man's death. As much as I love and admire this film, I've always found Fonda's character a bit smug. He seems to revel in his role as the opposition a little too much. The other jurors consist of a variety of characters, some clear minded and logical, others emotional, bigoted, weak minded and even completely uninterested. The judgments these characters have made is for some revealed to be a result of misguided evidence but for others a consequence of their particular character traits.
The break down of the evidence is fascinating because it shows that the majority of the case is based on circumstantial evidence and witness testimonies. The way in which each piece of evidence is reexamined reveals holes that the defense managed to let slip and opens suspicions of doubt within some of the jurors. For the most part these parts of the film work well but ultimately it's more interesting to watch how the characters individually react and interpret what has been proven. One fault I do have with this film is the rather contrived way a particular character shows his reservations about the uniqueness of the murder weapon. The rest of this characters actions feel spontaneous but this scene felt a bit forced and premeditated and for a brief moment took me out of the film. However with such great performances and a brilliant script that's about all I can fault, this film is actually pretty amazing.
What takes this film from simply being very good to being great in my opinion lies with the fact that at the end of all of this drama the audience still doesn't know if the accused is guilty or not guilty. In fact I would venture to say that most people will still think he's guilty, I know I did. The point is that they have to be almost certain of his guilt, you can't condemn a man to death when there is reasonable doubt.
If you haven't seen this classic you really should. Initially I had my misgivings about watching a film where the characters never leave the room but with such high praise I had to give it a go and it's definitely worth a buy.
Martin Balsam - Juror #1
John Fiedler - Juror #2
Lee J. Cobb - Juror #3
E.G. Marshall - Juror #4
Jack Klugman - Juror #5
Ed Binns - Juror #6
Jack Warden - Juror #7
Henry Fonda - Juror #8
Joseph Sweeney - Juror #9
Ed Begley - Juror #10
George Voskovec - Juror #11
Robert Webber - Juror #12
When those of you that read my last review will know that my favourite film is 12 Angry Men. Well after having a number of people leaving me messages saying that they too liked it Ive decided to write a review on it. Im sorry to those that have seen the film as I havent described much of the story after the opening half an hour, as I dont want to ruin it for anyone who has not had the pleasure of seeing the film yet, well now for the review, hope you enjoy the read.
Twelve unnamed jurors are given the task of deciding the guilt or innocence of a street kid charged with murder. The youth, a 17 year old boy from the slum, stands accused of stabbing his abusive father in the chest. Now the jury must pass verdict on the kid, and guilty or not-guilty the votes have to be unanimous , and the consequences are high for if found guilty the youth will have the death sentence passed on him and will end up in the chair. At first it seems like an open and shut case with most jurors talking about getting home early, with one even talking about the tickets hes bought for a baseball game. After all there are witnesses who heard or saw the murder. Also as the boy has a criminal background, which some members of the jury touch upon, it seems as if hes going to be declared and so a vote is taken. The verdict comes out as 11-1 in favour of guilty, the lone juror behind the boy is juror 8 (who is played by Henry Fonda), he is unwilling to end this boys live, especially when he has considerable doubt in his mind of the boys guilt. And so its up to him to go through the evidence again and examine the flaws in the prosecutions case and ask questions that where overlooked during the trial, in order to bring the other 11 round to a not-guilty verdict.
Martin Balsam - Juror 1, John Fiedler - Juror 2, Lee J. Cobb - Juror 3, E.G. Marshall - Juror 4, Jack Klugman - Juror 5, Ed Binns - Juror 6, Jack Warden - Juror 7, Henry Fonda - Juror 8, Joseph Sweeney - Juror 9, Ed Begley - Juror 10, George Viscose - Juror 11, Robert Webber - Juror 12, Rudy Bond - Judge, James A. Kelly - Guard, Bill Nelson - Court Servant, John Savoca - Defendant
So as you can see the film feature many actors who had long and enviable careers (though I fret most people wont have heard of them now, god am I showing my age), and it was for this reason that the movies been such a success. As there were only three locations in the whole film; with the courtroom being used for the first 3 minutes, before the action moves into the jury room (if thats what its called) for the bulk of the movies, and then there is a minute two outside on the street at the end. Also as each of these sets was modestly furbished an awful lot of the budget was left over, which the director, put to good use by bringing in the best actors he could afford, and due to the money he had left he could afford some damn good actors.
However even with such a great cast involved there are still those who rose up and delivered flawless performances, three of them in fact. Henry Fonda and Lee J. Cobb put in the performance of theirs lives, they seemed to share a natural chemistry with each other and as the two major players for the opposing view a lot of dialect was shared between them. However with these actors you expected something out of the ordinary and thats what you got, but for me the biggest surprise of all was Jack Klugman, of Quincy fame. Jack played the role of an ex-slum dweller, much like the kid on trial, and he acts the part to perfection being nervous at first that his identity would be found out that he too was from the streets, until a wave of dissent from Lee J. Cobb aimed at those people forced him to speak up on their behalf. After seeing this display it is a wonder he never had more success.
It is a shame that once again a classic movie has been let down by a standard DVD, although in this case it is a little more understandable. The DVD contains the standard, original trailer and scene selection option. Now when I bought is I knew it was made in the late 50s and so wouldnt contain many extras like making of and other such features. However after watching the movie I immediately started to wonder what movies some of the cast did after that as I was interested in seeing more of them. Then is struck me as stupid that they did not have biographies of the actors and the movies they stared in. After all is there a better merchandising method, here you have a collection of some of the best actors of the time in one movies, on in which they all put in great performances. Now for a movie company would it not make sense to list their other movies if there was a chance youd be interested (and I dont believe I am the only person who saw the movies and said Id like to see more of actor or another) especially when it is likely that the company that brought out this DVD will also have the rights to many other films starring these actors. But as always greedy corporate leaders would rather make a quick buck rather than do some work and get a larger amount in the long run.
However their mistake is our game, due to a combination of, lack of special features and poor advertisment this movie can now be found surfacing in bargain bins everywhere.
OK Im starting to ramble on again, well hoped you enjoyed the read, and have a good day now.
Sometimes you can't help wondering if there's any point in writing an opinion on something; after all, this is a classic film. I've no doubts there are far more people on here who have seen it than not, and most of them wouldn't have kept doing what I did which was go "oh yeah, that's one I know I'll love... I must get round to that..." and never do it. (I did see the recent tv remake, where Jack Lemmon took on juror number 8 and George C. Scott number 3... but... it's never the same, and why would it be?).
But, with a film like this one, it just seems like there's too much to say not to. So bear with me, and pretend you've never seen it. And if you haven't, take my cue and make up for lost time...
A jury are charged with their task; a 17 year old boy from an immigrant slum stands accused of plunging a knife into his abusive father's chest, and the jury's verdict must be unanimous either way. If he is found guilty, he will be sent to the electric chair. The case seems open and shut - there are apparent witnesses to the murder, the evidence is stacked up against the young man, as is his vaguely criminal background, and eleven of the jurors are ready to convict within minutes. But juror number 8 (Henry Fonda) is unwilling to cast his lot so easily, and navigates his fellow jurors through the evidence once more, raising questions no-one thought to ask...
Thus follows an hour and half of grit and sweat and claustrophobia. Just the few minutes that top and tail the film take place outside the overheated jury room (that's tempers as well as the "hottest day of the year" that pours its heaviness through the window). The cast is something of a who's who, and everyone has at least one moment in the spotlight, although it's Lee J. Cobb, as the most determined and abrasive juror gunning for a guilty verdict, that shares the most screen time with a piercing and austere Fonda. Ed Begley, too, has a deeply uncomfortable moment in the spotlight, but we'll come back to that.
There's a thirteenth man in that simple room, though. He isn't sitting at the table; his coat isn't hung on the simple, bare rail. He's behind that camera and he's dancing with balletic precision around the room...
Let's start with performances, though.
Henry Fonda burns with curious indignation; his cause rests somewhere between discomfort at the idea of sending any man to his death with even a shred of uncertainty in his mind and a kind of academic precision with facts. His arch, pinning glance, curious raised eyebrow and almost feline grace all point to a pitch-perfect performance. Cobb equally blisters and blunders and bellows his way through his prejudices and fears as he slowly begins to realise how personally he is taking the facts of the case. Each juror is very much an individual - despite the fact that there is limited screen time to be shared, no-one could mistake the meticulous, measured juror 4 that E.G. Marshall portrays for the edgy, slum-raised juror 5 sitting next to him, in a sharp turn from Jack Klugman. Each man around that table has a wealth of history and character heaped on his shoulders, and yet names are never spoken, only numbers. And yes, there are some stereotypes, such as Robert Webber's gabby advertising exec, and Martin Balsam's weary foreman, but they are naturally and humanly portrayed. These are people sitting around a table, and despite the play-like atmosphere that always persists when show is transferred to screen, they are not merely characters.
The script in itself is a joy to behold. Reginald Rose not only wrote but, like Fonda, produced the film, and the immense power of his words emanates from every syllable. When, in a supremely uncomfortable moment, a tirade of xenophobic prejudice against immigrants is unleashed by one of the jurors, each word rings in the ears with painful force, as the camera stays resolutely still and allows the movement of the actors to plot the subtext elegantly. This is a tense and intelligent film. Even if there is some inevitablity to it, it's possibly just that which makes it so watchable. What juror number 8 is doing, weaving doubt through the group, is inexorable, but how he will possibly stand up to the onslaught of evidence and opinion is anyone's guess. There's no thundering, clumsy preaching, and no hard and fast answers... this is not a conclusive film but an exploration: of identity, of epistemology, of prejudice and of humanity.
Sidney Lumet's direction is characteristically spare and stunning. The economy of movement, whereby slow sweeping shots are interwoven with sharp cutting between atmospheric close-ups and then long periods of static camera angles, is incredible. The camera guides and flexes with expert grace, so subtly that one minute you're so lost in the action you've forgotten it's there, and the next minute the visual wallop of the film hits you for six. Two wonderful layered shots bookend the film; the accused boy's wide eyes are left to linger over the empty jury room just before the jurors file in to Kenyon Hopkins evocatively atmospheric score, and the jury room itself casts a shadow over the steps of the courthouse at the end. The music and sound are pivotal - as I was watching my DVD a storm broke outside at the same time as in the film! There's a grainy quality sometimes to the sound that reflects the noises of the real world, and the score is sparingly and effectively used.
Well, I doubt I've told you anything you didn't already know, but I've marshalled my own thoughts on the matter at least. In terms of DVD release information, this boasts only the original theatrical trailer as an extra, and the menus are pretty functional and straightforward, with the usual language and scene selection options. It's a widescreen format, apparently specially programmed so that use with a widescreen television boosts the picture quality. It was obtained as one of play.com's regular 3 for £20 offers, so that's a good place to start.
Courtroom drams have always been popular in films and many such as Inherit The Wind have been classics. 12 Angry Men is part of this genre but differs in that the focus is behind the scenes. We dont see lawyer, judges, witnesses but all the action takes place in the jury room as the jurors struggle to decide on a young mans guilt, knowing that a guilty verdict will lead to his death.
The story is set in New York in the late 50s. The jury in a murder trial has been asked to come to a decision on the guilt of a young Puerto Rican man accused of killing his father. They are led to the jury room and it seems at first that there is little doubt about the verdict. However after they hold a vote one of the jurors is found to disagree, Juror 8 played by Henry Ford is uncomfortable about sending the young man to his death without at least a discussion about the evidence. So starts a battle of wills as each of the men has to face up to their own beliefs and prejudices. They are forced to re-examine the evidence and struggle to come to a consensus.
CAST, PERFORMANCES AND OPINION
Martin Balsam .... Juror #1
John Fiedler .... Juror #2
Lee J. Cobb .... Juror #3
E.G. Marshall .... Juror #4
Jack Klugman .... Juror #5
Ed Binns .... Juror #6
Jack Warden .... Juror #7
Henry Fonda .... Juror #8
Joseph Sweeney .... Juror #9
Ed Begley .... Juror #10
George Voskovec .... Juror #11
Robert Webber .... Juror #12
This is such a clever film and when you realise that it is Sidney Lumet directorial debut it is even more surprising how good it is.
The film is set in the jury room at the murder trial of a young man accused of murdering his father but in reality the subject matter is much wider than this. The boys guilt is not really what is at issue; in reality the film puts society on trial. Each of the characters seems to represent a different aspect of what was then modern American society; young up and coming businessman representing modern consumerist America, a down to earth working class man who is more interested in getting the trial over and done with so he can catch the ball game, the older man who refuses to be bullied into an opinion, the bigot who has personal reasons for wanting the accused convicted, the highly educated professional who thinks himself logical and reasonable but is just as bigoted as everyone else and so on .
In the middle of all of this stands Juror 8 at first we see him as an everyman figure but later we see him more as a symbol of hope for a society deeply divided by prejudice, bias and selfishness. Juror 8 is freethinking, has liberal values and does not prejudge these are characteristics that few people actually possess but that most would strive for. The story is really one of struggle between on one side the negative traits of human kind prejudice, ignorance, selfishness and apathy and on the other those qualities we should be most proud of reason, fairness and morality.
The story is adapted from a television play written by Reginald Rose and it is filmed in the same way as the play wouldve been performed. In essence this movie is a play rather than a cinematographic event and it is not surprising that a theatrical version of it was seen at the Edinburgh festival in 2003. It would be an ideal story to stage relying as it does on character and dialogue to make its impact.
The reason why it works so well on film is that Lumet has assembled a brilliant cast of the best character actor of the period to take on the different roles. Many movie fans might not recognise all the names in the cast list but most will immediately recognise the faces form countless film and TV roles. True masters of character acting such as, Ed Begley, Martin Balsam, Jack Klugman and E.G. Marshall certainly are allowed to shine but Lee J. Cobb puts in a truly powerful and maybe the best movie performance of his long and distinguished career.
Lumet also deserves more credit in the way that he sets up the scene. The jury is meeting in small claustrophobic room, it is a hot humid summers evening and the air conditioning has failed, the windows of the room difficult to open. The atmosphere is already tense and this feeling is heightened by the close, unbearably hot surroundings. The set is bare with a large table in the centre of the room and of course twelve chairs. The characters pace around each at first trying to turn Juror 8 to their point of view but later struggling to justify their own beliefs. The tension builds up throughout the film and as tempers fray the thin veneer of civilised interaction starts to break down and violence becomes inevitable.
Although cinematographically it is a simple film Lumet is very clever in the use of the camera. The use of close ups and the way the viewers eye follow the juror around and concentrate on each in turn as they become the focus of the argument is skilfully done and manages to give the dialogue an extra vibrancy.
Henry Fonda is perfect in the role of the dissenting Juror 8 who faces antagonism even violence form the other jurors but is unswaying in his belief that reason and justice must prevail. He is the only hope that remains for the accused and the film is saying to all of us that a single voice, the actions of a single man do matter and that we all have a wider responsibility to act in a way that is fair and consistent with our beliefs and our conscience. We cant take the easy way out even if the alternative will bring criticism and hostility towards us.
The themes of the film are still relevant today and this is why the story remains as compelling now as it was in the 1950s.
The DVD itself is of very good quality, the Widescreen 1.78:1 picture considering the age of the film made in 1957 is excellent; the Black and White print carries sharp and clear images throughout. The sound quality being Dolby Digital (1.0) is also of good quality despite being a mono recording rather than stereo.
Standard scene sectorisation is available and the DVD offers a choice of several languages (French,
German, Italian, Spanish, English) as well as a good choice of subtitle options.
The DVD release of these classic but older films usually offers little in the terms of extras and this DVD is no exception. We do get the Original movie trailer but nothing else. But really it doesnt matter in this case since the DVD can also be purchased at a very reasonable price from many outlets.
At just over one and a half hour long this film flies by, it is totally gripping and even though I have watched it many times I still enjoy seeing how the plot develops. It is simply a classic, Watch as a collection of very talented actors play out a gripping story in the most unlikely of settings. Every film fan should have this film in their collection, the fact that it is not often shown on TV these days make the DVD purchase even more tempting.
You can buy 12 Angry Men on DVD from Play.com for £7.99 delivered or even cheaper if you buy as part of a current offer of 3 DVDs for £20.
Thank you for reading and rating this review.
© Mauri 2004
I'm currently on holiday and that?s given me time to catch on all the films currently sitting on my shelf unseen. Most of these are the films that I've heard a lot about and bought on the off chance. Generally these are the films that were made over a decade ago, the kind of films that probably wouldn?t be made now or at least given a lot of faith by a studio. 12 Angry Men was the first feature film for Sidney Lumet. It was too be the start of his cinematic journey into American crime and the justice system. This journey includes the likes of Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon and to an extent Q&A. All these films are available on dvd and certainly ones I recommend you watch if you ever get the chance. The film opens with the closing statement of a judge. An 18-year old boy is on trial for the murder of his father. The 12 men of the jury have sat there and listened to both sides argue their cases. Now these men have to retire to a room and deliver a verdict that could lead the boy to the electric chair. These men are all different personalities and no one knows each other by name. All of them have made their decision already, the boy is guilty. All of them except one, Juror No 8 (Henry Fonda). He believes the boy is not guilty, he's seen beyond the evidence presented to him in the courtroom. The other jurors meet this with astonishment but slowly over the course of the hottest day in the city Juror No 8 dissects all the evidence. This is turn makes some of the other jurors consider their initial judgement. All of them have to agree on one verdict otherwise the case is re-tried. With the heat tempers are flared and people make their feelings known. But by the end will there be an outcome? This film essentially takes place in one room except for the opening and closing scenes and a brief move into the bathroom. Put this to most Hollywood studios now and they'll probably look for ways to get it outside of one room and make it somethin
g bigger. O bviously audiences nowadays don't have attention spans. That's what most big shots think. But this is a film that works as a classic example of when films were great films because the story, performances and direction were all at the top of their game. Lumet lets the film play out based on the characters involved. Each one of them is defined by their own characteristics and motives so you can tell them apart. Their little afflictions make it easy to keep your focus on what's happening on screen. Lumet also moves the film along with interesting camera angles that change your field of vision all the time, keeping thing moving and keeping your attention without resorting to shots that take you out of the story. The way the script works is that it plays people off each other but throws in little nuances of humour as well as subtle sub plots that pay off at certain moments. This is probably one of the tightest plotted scripts ever and it has to be otherwise one slip could lose the audience completely. Throughout the film you're made to evaluate the idea of justice and the jury system. Personally I thought that is a show is put on by lawyers in court then a jury can be swayed from looking at the true facts, their decision may be swayed. In this case if every juror hadn't looked beyond the courtroom show then the young boy of the story would have been sent to his death. 12 Angry Men is a well-acted film where no one stands out amongst the cast because they're all equally matched. Naturally Fonda is the star but he doesn't have any beefier material other than the fact that he's the juror who's took the opposite decision to everyone else. This film can be picked up on DVD for under a tenner and I'd recommend it to anyone who thinks they don't make em like they used to.
When we think of when a movie is set in a courthouse it is either A Few Good Men or the latest John Grisham movie via book. 12 angry men is set in the deliberations room after a trial has taken place and focuses on what matters. The 12 men who will decide this boy's fate. All but one is ready to convict, reasons ranging from their own child's disobedience to wanting to catch a baseball game. This movie is very effective at creating memorable characters. Having seen this movie several years ago and just recently reviewing it, I could distinctly remember all 12 jurors and their personalities. One can't help, after viewing the film, at how original and brilliant it was for its time. More recent courtroom dramas are all about an obvious unfair trial as in a black man on trial for something NO jury would convict him for outside the Deep South. This movie has one main set, which is the deliberations room and rarely strays from it. The long shots of what seems like 5 or 6 minutes happen regularly in the movie giving you the feeling that you are there. What draws me to this movie is that it is about fact and remaining objective. It doesn't have anything to do with prejudice on account of ethnicity, creed, or color. It deals with a child and whether or not he should be put to death. Movies don't need a big budget, fancy sets, or Will Smith to be great. Clever dialog and memorable characters work much better.
"12 Angry Men" is a courtroom drama with a twist from the usual fare. The film begins at the end of a trial and we go into the jury room with the 12 people who will decide the young man's fate. We know nothing of the crime at this point and it is only through the dialogue and interaction of the jury members that the story begins to be released. The jury are ready to vote immediately as almost all of them (for various reasons) have come to their own conclusion. The initial vote returns an 11 to 1 split so the case has to be debated. I love this kind of story where the facts are slowly released and you form your own opinion with each new piece of evidence that you are fed. The reason I chose the title for this opinion was I am not convinced that this film would do a great deal at the box office if it was released today. There is no action and the majority of the film is contained in one room. This should not detract from the movie though as it held my attention very easily and is one of the best films I have ever seen. The real strength of this film in my opinion is the character of each juror and how they act towards each other. With there being 12 different people there was a fair amount of scope to introduce a variety of characters and it is achieved perfectly. This film was made in 1957 so there are no women or coloured people on the jury. Perhaps a modern day movie would have both on it? The characters names are not known they are merely referred to by their juror number. The 12 jurors are broken down as follows, (with the actor’s name behind). Juror 1 - Martin Balsam The foreman of the jury. He is a little uncomfortable in this position, but as he has to do it he will do it to the best of his ability. He doesn’t appear to understand everything that is going on but tries to hide this from the rest of the jury. Juror 2 - John Fielder A small, quiet man,
he works as an Accountant and gives the impression that he prefers to keep himself to himself. Juror 3 - Lee J Cobb One of the more memorable jury members. At the beginning he seems like a logical well-balanced man but as the evidence turns against his viewpoint he tries to stick to his decision even though his reasoning is becoming more and more questionable. Juror 4 - E G Marshall A cocky stockbroker who thinks that he is the most intellectual of the 12. He tries to view everything from a logical standpoint and comes over as a cold exacting person. Juror 5 - Jack Klugman This is a man who was comes from the same background as the accused. He is fairly quiet at the beginning but is a little taken aback that other are making assumptions and decisions based on the accused’s background. Juror 6 - Ed Binns A man who takes the position he is in very seriously. He listens to both sides of the arguments and doesn’t seem to have any pre-conceived ideas about the guilt or innocence of the accused. His biggest worry seems to be that a miscarriage of justice may take place. Juror 7 - Jack Warden Juror 7 is almost a direct contrast to Juror 6. He views this case as being an inconvenience to him. All he is really worried about is getting to see a baseball match. He seems happy to go with the majority, as that will be the quickest way for him to leave and get on with his life. The worrying thing is how true this type of character may be in real life. Juror 8 - Henry Fonda A strong character who is the only one not to vote with the others to begin with. He thinks that if he is going to send a man to his death then he has a responsibility to see that justice has been done. He is the main character although there isn’t really a main character in the usual sense. Juror 9 - Joseph Sweeney Probably the oldest juror. He is another
that votes with the majority in the beginning but is open to reviewing his opinion. He is able to make rational decisions and focuses on the case when others are more interested in arguing about other matters. Juror 10 - Ed Begley This is perhaps the most prejudiced of the 12. As he knows the boys background he knows he is guilty. You get the impression that he thinks that this is a reasonable opinion and cannot understand why others don’t think the same way. He is perhaps the most worrying character, again because there are a lot of people who could fit this description but may be better at concealing it. Juror 11 - George Voskovec A foreign watchmaker who listens to all aspects of the case and will make his decision based on the facts before him. Juror 12 - Robert Webber A man who seems to think that agreeing with the majority of the jurors is the best way to avoid appearing to be stupid. As a result he changes his mind often and doesn’t seem comfortable when asked a question. He seems to prefer jumping on the back of others ideas. Although the film is in black & white it doesn’t suffer in any way from that. The 1997 re-make is in colour so if black & white really isn’t your thing then I would suggest watching that version. However, the original should be watched first in my opinion. I am trying to think of a modern day film that comes close but I am struggling to come up with any. For a movie to hold your attention for over an hour and a half when so little happens outside of the dialogue really is incredible. If you have not seen it I would urge you to keep an eye out for it as it is shown occasionally on daytime channel 4. Or most video shops have the 1997 remake version available for hire. The region 1 DVD has also been released and can be bought at www.play247.com for £14.99.
Predominantly based around an old-school courtroom drama that puts modern ‘trial’ based films to shame, 12 angry men tells the story of is a young Puerto Rican accused of killing his father, and is soon overwhelmingly judged to be guilty. However, one of the jurors (Henry Fonda) finds not guilty, causing the whole case to be re-evaluated, in what is one of the best (and most original) pieces of film-making you are ever likely to see. One of the best things about DVD is the fact that older classics can get a new lease of life, and this is another example. One of the best dramas of all time, and a film that I truly never tire of seeing, this film looks and sounds as good, if not better than it ever has done before. Extras are limited due to the films age, but buy this for the quality movie itself, and nothing else! Costing just half a million dollars to make, this film shows that budget is not everything, and that the plot and cats can make any truly imaginative idea into something of a classic. Sensibly priced with a lovely RRP of £15, although I have seen it cheaper (some on-line stores have this for as little as £12.50) there is little reason why you should not buy this timeless classic!
Sidney Lumet's directorial debut Twelve Angry Men remains a tense, atmospheric (though slightly manipulative and stagey) courtroom thriller, in which the viewer never sees a trial and the only action is verbal. As he does in his later corruption commentaries such as Serpico or Q & A, Lumet focuses on the lonely one-man battles of a protagonist whose ethics alienate him from the rest of jaded society. As the film opens, the seemingly open-and-shut trial of a young Puerto Rican accused of murdering his father with a knife has just concluded and the 12-man jury retires to their microscopic, sweltering quarters to decide the verdict. When the votes are counted, 11 men rule guilty, while one--played by Henry Fonda, again typecast as another liberal, truth-seeking hero--doubts the obvious. Stressing the idea of "reasonable doubt", Fonda slowly chips away at the jury, who represent a microcosm of white, male society--exposing the prejudices and preconceptions that directly influence the other jurors' snap judgments. The tight script by Reginald Rose (based on his own teleplay) presents each juror vividly using detailed soliloquies, all which are expertly performed by the film's flawless cast. Still, it's Lumet's claustrophobic direction--all sweaty close-ups and cramped compositions within a one-room setting--that really transforms this contrived story into an explosive and compelling nail-biter. --Dave McCoy, Amazon.com