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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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12 Great Actors

12 Angry Men is one of a few films that take place in, essentially, one location. Such a story requires, first of all, an intriguing Script. Second, it requires great acting...and that is exactly what it has.

Certainly one of Fonda's best, 12 Angry Men earned every single one of its Oscar Nominations.

As this film is nearing fifty years old, it is slipping away from current audiences -- which is truly unfortunate. Anyone interested in court drama cannot miss this film. Furthermore, anyone who can appreciate a witty script with real characters and excellent verbal warfare will enjoy this film.
"You don't really mean you'll kill me, do you?"
A pure, simple, undeniable classic. This movie is a thoughtful, well shot, amazingly scripted, fantastically acted masterpiece. Even though the word masterpiece is often over-used (like genius) it certainly, and without dispute applies in this case. Sidney Lumet's directing is top-notch, and Henry Fonda is the still turning point of this small, microcosmic little world - his role has to be one of the most finely acted ever committed to film.

Set in an actual New York jury room, it's a claustrophobic, tightly confined set, where 12 very different men deliberate over the guilt of a young boy. Their prejudices, morals and personalities are thrown together and, sometimes violently, clash. Along with a great parallel commentary from the weather (at the beginning of the film, it's a stuffy, oppressive sweatbox, which becomes sidelined by a dark, stormy maelstrom outside the jury room) this is a fantastic film. You'd never think there were so many angles you could get from one single, uncomfortably confining room. Sidney Lumet's directing is amazing, as Fonda's chain-smkoing, softly spoken moralistic character could have been played so much darker; he manages to turn everyone around, slowly but surely, almost effortlessly converting even the most staunchly opposed and stoic juror - but he's not manipulative, sly or underhanded about it. He simply presents what is - he's the pure voice of reason, and he has some cracking lines. The other jurors are great, too. I'm sure we all know someone who fidgets through something important because they've got a football game starting in ten minutes - they all highlight broad generalisations of very human characters. I defy anyone not to find a character that illustrates someone they know in this motley crue. Except maybe Fonda - I don't know anyone cooler than this guy.
No Dissonance
This film deserves to be on anyone's list of top films. My problem is that it is so perfect, so seamlessly polished, it is hard to appreciate the individual excellences.

The acting is top notch. I believe that monologue acting is quite a bit simpler than real reactive ensemble acting. Most of what we see today is monologues pretending to be conversations. But in this film, we have utter mastery of throwing emotions. Once the air becomes filled with human essence, it is hard to not get soaked ourselves as the camera moves through the thick atmosphere. Yes, there are slight differences in how each actor projects (Fonda internally, Balsam completely on his skin...) but the ensemble presents one vision to the audience.

The writing is snappy too. You can tell it was worked and worked and worried, going through several generations. It is easy to be mesmerized by this writing and acting, and miss the rare accomplishment of the camera-work. This camera is so fluid, you forget you are in one room. It moves from being a human observer, to being omniscient, to being a target. It is smart enough to seldom center on the element of most importance, so expands the field to all men.

This is very hard. Very hard, to make the camera human. So much easier to do what we see today -- acknowledge the machinery and jigger with it. Do we have a filmmaker today who could do this?

Ted's Evaluation -- 4 of 3: Every cineliterate person should experience this.
Greatest movie ever made
Deceptively complex courtroom drama enthrals for the duration as one man opposes eleven others in a battle of argument, reason, and logic.

Starring Henry Fonda as Juror #8, 12 Angry Men is a very claustrophobic drama which conveys the deliberation room of a trial where the defendant is accused of first-degree murder. On the surface the case seems open and shut, with 11 of the 12 jurors entirely convinced by the prosecution's case. Only one dissenter remains, and that is Henry Fonda's Juror #8. Specifically he is not certain that the boy is definitely innocent, just that he doesn't know, and that for him is enough to qualify as reasonable doubt.

12 Angry Men certainly is a moralistic tale, of the right to a fair trial and trying to give someone every chance, but it has many more strings to its bow than just this. Indeed, above all else it prides itself in endeavouring to portray a true sense of reasoned and rational argument which tries to overcome steadfast beliefs as possessed by the seemingly unshakable. Initially it may seem that Fonda's Juror is simply playing devil's advocate, but it becomes clear that it is more about standing up for what you believe despite what the facts seem to tell you. The more you scrutinise so-called unshakable evidence, the more you find holes in it, and the more that logical analysis seems to provide the real answers.

Obviously, Juror #8 has to persuade those others who seem to have their own agenda, and pre-conceived notions of what truth equals, but nevertheless it is absolutely fascinating seeing how simply he probes the case and reveals the flaws.

The whole movie's pace is absolutely perfect, and given its almost exclusive setting of inside the deliberation room it is a testament to the genius of the script and the brilliance of the acting that the duration of the film seems so short. The cinematography is also surprisingly excellent given the lack of scope necessary, with sharp imagery and clever camera-work which gives the whole picture a real amount of life.

To detail the jurors themselves; Juror #1 reluctantly appoints himself foreman. He appears to lack esteem, and the chance to boss the table by being the 'leader' perversely appeals greatly to him as he lacks significant contribution to make about the case. He does not want to be useless, so is forced to take charge.

Juror #2 is a slight man who is clearly used to being wrapped in his own cocoon, never deviating, so when he ends up as a juror in a murder trial, he is actually thrilled at his fish out of water status. He does not really have much to say about the case, taking it at face value.

Juror #3 is the enduring Messenger Service owner. May have an ulterior motive for being so steadfastly sure the accused is guilty, given his first scene depicts ambivalence over the courtroom procedure given to him it is 'open and shut'. As time goes on, and evidence starts to suggest more than meets the eye, he begins to show emotional stress as his hardwired opinion looks flimsier. But he refuses to cave.

Juror #4 has more emotional attachment to the trial than most, as he shares the same kind of background to the defendant and takes criticism of 'that kind of person' extremely personally. Experiences inner conflict between head and heart.

Juror #5 is a cold and methodical thinker who has an elevated opinion of himself. Emerges more as the deliberations wear on, he is convinced by the evidence that the boy is guilty, and systematically sets about conveying this to the others.

Juror #6 is the common working man with very little input, and whose two significant moments are to defend another juror who is being harassed, and to suggest another juror is badly wrong about his opinion.

Juror #7 is more interested in the ball game at 8pm than the case. Doesn't want to be there, and while he details a little about the boy's background to start off with, his regular sarcastic quips throughout the story suggest he is simply desperate to be out of there as quickly as possible, with no care about the wheels of justice.

Juror #8 is the only juror who does not immediately join the others with their guilty verdict. He has a lot of thought about the case eating at him, and wishes to explore it. He meets much opposition.

Juror #9 is a wise, wiley old man who is sharper than anyone else and observed events in the courtroom closer than the others. Makes some smart observations which unearth vital truths.

Juror #10 is an old school racist whose opinion is based on prejudice and not facts. A vile and odious creature, he has no interest in 'people like that' roaming the streets, and is offended at having to live in the same city as them.

Juror #11 is an intelligent and interested spectator who listens to the facts and analyses them before reaching a conclusion. His European accent draws derision from some others, as does his general nationality, but he rises above it and provides some sensible comments, rarely saying anything which lacks thought.

Juror #12 is a good-natured man but not a terribly strong thinker. He does not have much of an independent opinion on the case, often following others, and is often more interested in playing naughts and crosses or boring fellow jurors about his job.

Overall, 12 Angry Men is simply as good as cinema can get. Incredible script, amazing performances, and captivating direction.

Highly recommended.
12 Angry Men, 1 Happy Me
I rarely say a film is perfect, but this one just might. If you haven't seen it yet, turn off your laptop or whatever, go to the nearest store that sells DVDs (I have no idea if it exists in BluRay) and buy it (downloading is bad !). Then, sit on your freaking couch and watch the darn film ! (Or whatever, just see it ASAP).

This "huis-clos" is absolutely brilliant ! The acting's great, the plot is smart, the characters' portraits throughout the movie are very interesting (mostly because they're all different).

I have waited a long time before seeing it, never quite finding the motivation to do so. I really can't explain why ! Maybe partly because I was afraid it would have aged too much... but I was entirely wrong.

I had seen a play with the same plot, and loved it as well. I'm glad I finally watched the film, and I invite you to do the same !
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.
A top-notch cast under superb direction by Sidney Lumet makes this movie excellent in every aspect
A dissenting juror (Henry Fonda) in a murder trial slowly manages to convince the others (Jack Klugman , Martin Balsam , Jack Warden , Lee. J. Cobb , Ed Begley , E.G. Marshall , Robert Webber , among others) that the case is not as obviously clear as it seemed in court. As Juror #8 holds out with a verdict of not guilty, thus setting the stage for arguments and reasons why or why not the boy may be guilty . As he desperately seeks to convince his eleven peers to reconsider their hast conviction of a boy framed of murdering . As 12 jurors are struggling to decide the fate of a teenager who allegedly killed his father .

Made for television classic about twelve jurors quick to condemn a youth on trial for murdering his father before reviewing the evidence. Though the whole movie is set in a jury room it never lacks for taut , suspense , intrigue and inspired direction . The struggle behind closed doors is tense , charged and riveting . Reginald Rose's brilliant TV play script was left virtually intact in its move to feature film. This famous play from the 'Golden Age of Television' was splendidly directed by Sidney Lumet with an extraordinary plethora of actors who give magnificent performances .Because the painstaking rehearsals for the film lasted an exhausting two weeks, filming had to be completed in an unprecedented 21 days and shot in a total of 365 separate takes. However, nowadays none of the twelve stars are still alive . The acting level of the cast during some of the intense discussions and debates almost bursts in the screen . The movie is commonly used in business schools and workshops to illustrate team dynamics and conflict resolution techniques. Nominated for 3 Oscars , another 16 wins & 6 nominations ; the film lost out in all its categories to The Bridge on the River Kwai . It ranked #2 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Courtroom Drama".

This Lumet's impressive debut was followed by a remake made for cable TV (1997) , a contemporized rendition of the memorable tale whose script has been slightly updated but the premise is the same , it was directed by William Friedkin with a formidable cast such as William L. Petersen, Edward James Olmos, Hume Cronyn, James Gandolfini, Dorian Harewood, Ossie Davis, and Courtney B. Vance , George C. Scott , Armin Mueller-Stahl , Tony Danza and Jack Lemmon takes on the voice of dissent , the Fonda role . Furthermore , a Russian version (2007) by Nikita Mikhalkov with Sergey Garmash , Valentin Gaft , Aleksey Petrenko , Yuriy Stoyanov , Efremov , among others .
Excellent !

"Twelve Angry Men" is the perfect demonstration that when you have a good script, an intelligent director an a well selected cast a film doesn't have to be expensive or spectacular to be a real good one. This film is all about dialogues and acting and is set 95% in a small room yet its most entertaining and has a lot of tension.

When I said it had a well selected cast I didn't mean an all star cast; Henry Fonda was the only major star; Lee Cobb, Ed Begley, Martin Balsam and E.G. Marshall where very talented supporting actors but not stars; Jack Warden and Jack Klugman weren't even known much in films yet. But a simple direction by Sidney Lumet leaving the development to the script and actors performances worked well and the film is tense, intriguing and most entertaining from beginning to end.

"Twelve Angry Men" is a "trail film" but with a very original focusing since by following the jury's debate the whole case is clearly revealed up to the verdict. It's also interesting that the verdict is not based in a not guilty conviction by the jurors but for the benefit of the doubt, which means that perhaps the boy actually killed his father.

One of the best movies I've ever seen in its genre.
We Die, But Hey, They Feel Better About Being Rich
Spoilers Ahead:

First, like you, I adored this movie as a young man. What a deification of the jury system and how inside of every man is a hidden genius of reasoning. Well, after 40 years of philosophy, though this be voted to the back, I follow our credo: Speak the Truth even though it lead to your death. The scene that tells you all you need to know is the revelation that Cobb, Fonda's nemesis, is voting guilty because he wishes to revenge himself upon his estranged son. There is no reason within his arguments: he is just an executioner. Well, friends, in philosophy this is a logical fallacy called Ad Hominem: To The Person. If you cannot defeat someone's argument call them names or slander their character. See, inside of each one of us, including your author, are predilections to convict or acquit. Ergo, we can turn his argument right upon him with equal facility: Fonda's liberal guilt over his wealth causes him to release dangerous poor murderers, who kill people, so Henry can feel better about being wealthy in the midst of millions of poor and suffering people. This, by the way, is easier than doing the righteous thing and giving his wealth away to relieve the boundless suffering he beholds about him. This boy is his sacrificial lamb of atonement on the altar of his guilt.

The movie implies that those who wish to protect the innocent, not Fonda's words punish, no, we seek to save the blood of the innocent we stand in front of and answer to God for. The Ad Hominem logical fallacy, as we are trained to understand, is the last refuge of someone who cannot win an argument. The second premise of the movie is that no matter how overwhelming the mountain of evidence if we but took the requisite time, why it would fall apart like fall's leaves upon the ground. Trust me, if you are in a case like this and the evidence remotely approaches this level, you could ratiocinate over it until the end of our sun: he will still be guilty. You see the synthesis of the liberals Fonda and Lumet? All those who vote guilty are filled with personal demons, they are irrational: please, do not investigate our antithetical predilections to acquit! If the evidence be piled to Alpha Centauri, never mind, if we took the time we would find it is all erroneous. Look, I once thought as you do, it is only after decades of thought living as an ascetic philosopher ruminating over the movie, I see it, finally, as the liberal mind control it has always been.

Whatever you think of this review, when you are called for jury duty remember inclinations to acquit are just as strong as to convict. Think always of the helpless ones who stand behind you that count on you to be as dispassionate and objective as you can. If we eliminated everyone with bias, there would be no jury system. Those who believe in God, as I do, believe we answer to Him for our actions. When you hear the heartbreaking music that Lumet and Fonda play as the accused teenager sits there looking sad, remember the blood of the innocent victims that will be upon your hands. Look, I am sorry Fonda feels bad for being rich, there is such a simple solution; let go of your greed and give it to the poor. Do not put us in danger by brainwashing people into believing that those that wish to convict have private demons that bias us from being objective: how childish! As if we could not turn your argument, with equal adroitness, upon you.

Look, I know you will vote this to the back, who gives a crap? What I want you to do is think about what I have said to you when you are on a jury. That is why I wrote this, for the innocents who die so white, rich liberals do not have to give their money to the poor. He atones by releasing a token poor person, for his expiation, who cares how many of us die? Q.E.D.

And Jesus Said To Zacharias, "one thing more, give all that you have to the poor and follow me." Zacharius turned away and wept for he was a rich man.
Is "12 Angry Men" a GREAT or NON GREAT movie? Gentlemen of the jury, your verdict ...
Juror #1, the foreman (Martin Balsam, football coach): "Well, I won't be too technical, or make a long speech … it's just that it's a one-set film, so it's new and risky, because you know, dialogs are not enough, we need …uh … the thrills … and it goes slowly in the beginning but progressively, it's like the jury room becomes smaller, and the faces bigger. I really felt the tense and suffocating atmosphere ... And what an explosive climax, I could hardly breathe … I know it's strange, but the direction, well, the movie is one hell of a thriller … I, well, my verdict is clear: GREAT MOVIE"

Juror #2 (John Fiedler, bank clerk): "I don't know. It's an excellent film, served by great performances. Every character was convincing, so were their interactions. I can't find any flaw, for me, there's nothing to add, and nothing to remove. It is a GREAT MOVIE"

Juror #3 (Lee J. Cobb, businessman): "I told you why this movie is great, it's just … thought provoking, everything and I mean everything looked like it would have been this kind of preachy film with a good-hearted hero and simple-minded antagonists who just want to be vindictive. But this is an intelligent film which, even at the end, makes you question if the kid is guilty or not. Because it has nothing to do with punishment, it's about justice ... without any prejudice, and that deserves respect, yes sir! No doubt for me … GREAT MOVIE"

Juror #4 (E.G. Marshall, stockbroker): "First of all, it's an excellent examination of all the subtle nuances that enrich a male adult demography, played with such believability every one could identify with one of the jurors. Secondly, the writing was intellectually gripping and emotionally engaging and I would add: respectful of the viewer's intelligence. The direction was excellent and created a feeling of growing claustrophobia guided by a very clever use of focal lenses, a credit to Sidney Lumet. Last but not least, it's about the noble concept of justice and presumption of innocence: "12 Angry Men" delivers a brilliant, intelligent, and universally inspiring message. To conclude, I can say I had the privilege to watch a GREAT MOVIE"

Juror #5 (Jack Klugman, the man from the slum): "What else to say? I second the idea that it's a powerful drama demonstrating how prejudices poison the heart of our civilization, and I believe this is one of the few films that should be screened everywhere in the world as a powerful lesson for tolerance. My verdict is: GREAT MOVIE"

Juror #6 (Edward Binns, painter): "A movie that younger and future generations should watch and respect. These are movies with no special effects, no big-star cast, no big explosions, no flashy cars and no sexy girls. You have a honest, simple movie featuring ordinary men, but the result is so impacting it should be appreciated by any movie lover, regardless of his or her age. Anyway, GREAT MOVIE"

Juror #7 (Jack Warden, salesman): "Come on, everyone is using big words and noble concepts, but for me, this movie is just damn entertaining. Hey admit it, the dialogs, the way opposite characters interact, create a lot of anxiety but is also very fun to watch, sometimes, well … I think you can say anything, but without entertainment, a film is worthless, and the movie could've been a bore, just all talk and no walk, but it wasn't, it worked for me ... GREAT MOVIE"

Juror #8 (Henry Fonda, architect): "This movie invites us to explore our convictions and question the way they influence our judgments. Justice is done by men, blindly and implacably, this is why punishment must be beyond any doubt, and when you have what appears to be an open-and-shut case that progressively reveals some flaws as we go deeper in the subject, well, this says a lot about the negative impact of subjectivity when it comes to justice, and how we should be careful about the consequences of our thoughts, our words, our acts. "12 Angry Men" is a humanistic inspiration for those who have faith in justice. GREAT MOVIE"

Juror #9 (Joseph Sweeney, retired): "This is a fantastic character study illustrating how convincingness is often driven by the personality. It's an incredible illustration of the way a few people can monopolize the talk and how a silent majority is eager to follow the ones who aggressively express their thoughts, and the courage it takes to be the lone dissenter and how using a constructive, polite and logical answer can destroy something taken for granted. While watching "12 Angry Men" I understood that a consensus, when rapidly built, means that the truth must be elsewhere. And one truth for sure, this is a GREAT MOVIE"

Juror #10 (Ed Begley, garage owner): "I hate the patronizing way some left-wing good-hearted people adore this film, this has nothing to do with politics, truth or justice, it's about manipulation of your thoughts by pushing the right emotional button … you missed the point, and that's the beauty of the film, you're all easily fooled. Not for the reasons you think, but it's a GREAT MOVIE"

Juror #11 (Joseph Voskovek, watchmaker): "No need to be American to appreciate the beauty of this film, it's about our deepest convictions. It's about the humanistic concept of reasonable doubt which can save even a guilty soul ... because life is valuable and justice is not vengeance. GREAT MOVIE"

Juror #12 (Robert Webber, advertising executive): "Wow, what I can say, it's not an exact science you know … you can find a reason A to appreciate it, a reason B or C … let's just say that the 'sigma' of these reasons, explains why it's an incredible film and as my fellow jurors said, why "12 Angry Men" is a GREAT MOVIE"
See Also
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