12 Angry Men (Twelve Angry Men) Reviews
Autumn afternoons are made for films like this. Perfectly acted, totally gripping and a 95-minute running time. So good it even drew 7-year old Gertie in.
The film is about a dissenting juror in a murder trial who slowly manages to convince the others that the case is not as obviously clear as it seemed in court. The person who begins to cast a little doubt on the case is Henry Fonda, and he gives a very good performance in the film. In fact, all of the cast are very good, and no-one is bad.
The direction from Sidney Lumet is excellent throughout while the script is very well written by Reginald Rose, which is based on a story by him, so he knows exactly what he is writing about. The script also makes the film easy to follow because as the evidence comes in to the courtroom, you know exactly what is going on.
This is one film that will definitely keep you gripped and right on the edge-of-your-seat from the start to the finish.
But then you begin to look at the movie as not just a script, but a film itself. The characters are rich and engaging, each and every one of them. The staging, which involves only one room, against all odds works brilliantly and is compelling. You forget that you are watching a film that has no scene changes! And the raw emotion among the men, the study of depravity and biases, all of this make for a classic film that would be a terrible shame to miss.
I often find crime-drama's to be my favorite genre of movies in large part because of the suspenseful aspects of that particular storytelling. While 12 Angry Men is far from a prototypical crime drama, it's certainly suspenseful. What begins as one man's doubts against 11 other men's desire to leave the courthouse as fast as possible, ends with a powerful message of prejudices and class issues. The nice thing about this particular criminal case is that at first listen, it's hard to argue with what some of the men are saying. There's definitely a grey area to this particular case, and that proves to help the development of the suspense and third-act revelations.
Perhaps even more important than the simple theme of class issues is the idea of communication, and how far a little talking can take you. As Henry Fonda nicely put it "we have a reasonable doubt, and that's something that's very valuable in our system. No jury can declare a man guilty unless it's sure." All of these men were under difficult conditions, considering the small room and blistering heat, but all of them also needed to understand that communicating with each other was the only way they were going to get through the night. I loved the way Lumet gracefully gave every one of the actor's their time to shine. Although Fonda was the clear star, and likely had the most lines, here, every single one of them brought their A-game.
The film also points out how easy it is to involve your own personal prejudices into cases like this. Perhaps even to some viewers it may be hard to against the grain of 11 other "angry men" and vote not guilty, but sometimes it takes more than just sitting around and waiting for someone else to step up. Sometimes you have to be the one to point out the questionable things in whatever job field or discussion you are in. Communication can be a difficult thing, but if you're willing to listen to others share their opinion, you should be willing to talk as well. But I do know one thing that can't be disputed, the greatness that is Sidney Lumet's 12 Angry Men.
I was a bit reluctant to check out this one on our trek through the IMDB Top 250 films list. It looked a little dull on the face of it, 12 guys in one room arguing about a court case. But after it was recommended to me by more than one person, I thought I'd give it a go.
The acting by all 12 is excellent, the questions asked are intriguing and make you rethink the judgements you make, and the suspense and tension is measured brilliantly throughout.
The physical 'action' as such isn't the main driver of the film, so it won't be to everyone's taste, but I found this to be a superb character piece that definitely deserves the accolades it gets.
I donīt like old movies so much, but I loved every second of this one.
a must see.
Thus, I can say with some conviction that, at least up to this date, Twelve Angry Men is my favorite movie. It has no real camera tricks, no flashy props. Just a closed room and interesting conversation.
To me, a lot of Juror #8's (Fonda) reasoning was conjecture and sometimes unconvincing, and although one can disagree with the final outcome of the film, that doesn't detract from what the film is really about.
It's an exploration of personal hangups, prejudices, impatience, and how communication shapes herd mentality and all its consequences.
The ONLY reason I don't give Twelve Angry Men a five star rating is because I found the ending a little bit rushed and intellectually unconvincing, but that's just my hangup. My dissatisfaction with the ending by no means spoils the really good performances and absorbing dialogue that make this film a masterpiece.
I look forward to the day that I view another film as enjoyable as this one.