classic: 12 Angry Men (1957) a Review

One of the most iconic crime dramas ever made, and more engaging then a movie about 12 men alone in a room should be.

Certificate:  U

Director: Sidney Lumet

Screenwriter:  Reginald Rose (story), Reginald Rose (screenplay)

Starring: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 96 Minutes

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

In discussions about the greatest of the film classics, this is one that always comes up, and I have seen this film a handful of times and I love it every time I see it.  You would never believe that a film about a group of twelve men talking together in a room could be this engaging and entertaining 60 years after the fact, but I feel this has stood the test of time.  When they say ‘They Don’t Make Them Like This Anymore’ this is the kind of film they are talking about.

12 Angry Men is simply about One man who has to convince his fellow jurors that the man they are potentially sentencing to death, may be innocent of the crime of murder that they are convinced he is guilty of. 

A super simple premise, we never see the murder take place, we barely see the defendant, and there is no flashy story telling or flashbacks to rely on.  All there is here is fantastic writing and snappy dialogue in order to keep the ball rolling.  This entire film happens nearly in real time, with the men discussing the guilt or innocence of the defendant the entire time.  There are a great cast of characters here, from all walks of life with all kind of personalities, and is the dynamics between these twelve men that keeps the story interesting.

Henry Fonda plays a character we only ever know as Davis, who is the one juror at the beginning of the film that votes that the defendant may be not guilty.  It is his character that drives the direction of the story and it is no easy feat in a film with nothing else going on to drive the plot forward.  He makes all the counter arguments and raises all the doubt in the room, and it is he that makes sure that this movie is more than just a lot of thoughtful exposition. Though there is a lot of that too.

This is a very character driven story, and if you are paying attention to the conversations that happen between them discussing the case, you can find out quite a bit about our cast of characters, but this isn’t a film with a lot of bang for your buck.  So this won’t be for you if you like your crime dramas with a bit more grit and actual murder and car chases etc.  Instead, this one will make you think, and is more of a slow burn, a nice change to the explosions and blood and gore of todays crime movies.

An old time classic that everyone should see once.  I think they are intending on releasing a ’12 Angry Women’ reboot at some point in the near future, but something tells me it will not live up to the infamy of its forbearer.


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