Matt's Review of 12 Angry Men (Twelve Angry Men)
It's a hot, sweltering day in New York City and these men have someone's life in their hands. The first on our list is one of the most endeared courtroom dramas of all time, Sidney Lumet's phenomenal debut 12 Angry Men.
The film is about a court case, or to be more precise, the jury decision. 12 men are brought to court to listen to a case about a young man who has been charged of the murder of his own father. The men have decided that the boy is already guilty; this sentence would result in death. But only one man, Juror #8 (Henry Fonda), questions the guilt of the boy.
The others have already made up their minds, either based on their own life or their personal prejudices. Number 8 tries to demonstrate the correct use of group think and tries to put their prejudices aside for the moment to only look at the facts, so as to not send an innocent young man to death.
On paper, the plot of this film would seem dull, but its use of one setting and claustrophobic close-ups gives the intensity that a real jury wrap-up would never have. Each character, who are only called by their jury number, all have different personalities. Number 9 (Joseph Sweeney) is one of the sweetest elderly men even on film. We also have very wide ranges of characters, from the bigoted #10 (Ed Begly), to the wisecracking #12. From the indifferent #7 (Jack Warden), the week-kneed #2 (John Fiedler) to the very opinionated #3 (Lee J. Cobb), who plays as the film's antagonist. This gives the viewer a choice of which character to track their decision; their eventual turn from a guilty to innocent sentence.
This movie is one of the most loved by audiences, most likely due to its twist and turns. It earned director Lumet a Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, the festivals highest prize. It film garnered nominations at the Oscars, including Best Picture and the film has a large following on the internet, with the popular website Internet Movie Database listing it in the top ten of highest voted movies. Know if only real court cases were more entertaining to watch.