Newest Review: ... important films of the 1950s, one of a bunch that focused on changing social attitudes which were prevalent during that era and for some... more
A tense, thought-provoking courtroom drama
12 Angry Men  (DVD)
Member Name: GentleGenius
12 Angry Men  (DVD)
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 ~~
Summary: Perhaps one to watch for anybody about to do jury service