Every film from Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" essays.
12 Angry Men
Life is in their hands. Death is on their minds.
The defense and the prosecution have rested and the jury is filing into the jury room to decide if a young Spanish-American is guilty or innocent of murdering his father. What begins as an open and shut case soon becomes a mini-drama of each of the jurors' prejudices and preconceptions about the trial, the accused, and each other.
12 reasons why 12 Angry Men is the best film of the 1950s:
1. It’s a high concept film that delivers beyond the unique hook to create compelling and flawed human characters.
2. The performances are sensational from Henry Fonda (empathetic and unwavering) attempting to change the minds of the other jurors, to the rest of the cast led by Lee J. Cobb. Considering it has such a sizeable main cast it is amazing how well developed each and everyone of them is with the lean script giving each of the perfectly cast actors a moment to shine.
3. It uses the claustrophobic single location to great effect, accentuating the sweltering heat and tense atmosphere amongst the conflicted men.
How do you ever begin to top a directorial debut such as this? Well Sidney Lumet certainly gave it is best shot over the years that followed creating an enviable filmography packed with cinematic gems. That he can turn a simplistic set-up of twelve men stuck together in a steaming hot room, into such a in-depth social, intellectual and thrilling 90 minutes speaks volumes for the man.
What does remain a mystery is how the creator of the screenplay Reginald Rose never even came close to this sort of standard again. His next project was 1957's Dino and then it was mostly back to the food and drink of TV scripts for the rest of his career. Whilst Lumet deserves…
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I was sceptic at first, thinking 12 Angry Men is over-hyped and that it wouldn't be as amazing as everyone says it is; which is how I felt with synonymous films like No Country For Old Men and North By Northwest, but right from the start, it captivated me. It starts off with the audience knowing very little of the situation aside from the fact that these men were appointed to decide whether or not the young boy accused on trial is guilty. Sidney Lumet's, the film's director, choice of having us know nothing of the trial is a smart approach that keeps our judgement pure, and also he wanted the…
12 Angry Men is definitely one of the most astonishing dramas I've seen. It has a simple premise, but all the discussions between the jurors were just so captivating and revealing. I liked how they always went back and forth with the case, gathering as many details as possible to find out if there was any room for doubt with the facts presented. Not only director Sidney Lumet masterfully orchestrated an intriguing story filled with little twists, but he also investigated very thoroughly how prejudice and preconceived notions could be in the way of realizing the level of uncertainty of the facts.
The performances here were truly remarkable, being another strength of the film. Each juror had unique personality traits…
There is a certain predictable inevitability when watching a classic when you're a bit older than the first time you watched it. You up the rating to reflect its classic status. I'm glad to say that this is also the case for 12 Angry Men.
The always underwatched Sidney Lumet's first feature film proves to be the first promise he made for all the marvellous films he has made after it. 12 Angry Men is a dialogue driven cross section of male America in the fifties and it is unflinching in how it dares portray the pettiness and weaker sides of us humans. Weaknesses that are still present some 50 years after this was…
12 Angry Men's biggest advantage is its agelessness. It could have been filmed last year and it still wouldn't be any more modern than it already is. It never once seems constrained by the time period it was filmed in. Its issues are as pertinent today as they have always been. And its lack of theatricality makes it completely timeless.
The film has a simple premise: a jury of twelve gets together to decide whether or not to send an accused youth to the electric chair. It seems like an open and shut case - all the evidence is against the boy, and nobody feels otherwise. Except for the one man who votes not guilty. It's never quite clear why…
Watching this for the first time, I was blown away at the screenplay and how well structured it was. For starters, it was really smart to never let the audience see the actual crime so that Henry Fonda's character has to not only convince his fellow jurors, but us as well. The case seems cut and dried from the beginning, but little doubts emerge and with Fonda at least being willing to question certain details.
Pitting these 12 men in such a hot and small room helps amp up the claustrophobia and contributes to multiple people having short tempers and creating even more tension. Each juror has his reasons for sticking to the guilty verdict for a while, and none…
Such a simple idea done so extraordinarily well. The dialog and acting is fantastic. I found myself hyper focused on every word, every expression and every movement. 12 Angry men is just a superb film.
If Paths Of Glory didn't exist, 12 Angry Men would be 1957's standout movie, perhaps even of the fifties altogether.
12 Angry Men is a masterpiece of acting, but I can't help feeling that it would work better as a stage play than a work of cinema. The film just doesn't use its medium.
A rare classic film that completely lives up to the decades of acclaim. Masterfully written, directed, and acted, not only is it a masterclass in cinematography, but every single character action makes logical sense and is justified within the story. And the opening long take is as interesting, compelling, and well-shot as anything from a more contemporary film. Pretty much perfect.
12 Angry Men is a brilliant and sohpisticated classic about prejudices and preconceptions being confronted with arguments and logic. Due to great acting performances and a fantastic screenplay, the 90 Minutes just flew by. A must-see!
This movie was awesome. Amazing acting, such a simple idea and it hits home so well. Only an hour and a half, and boy does shit get crazy.
A perfect example of how explosions, flashy moves or a character cast consisting of world renowned actors is essential for a great film. See how one man takes on all the others and bit by bit tries to explain his stance and why is it right. And a brain candy for you enthusiasts. There is more than one manipulator.
- 12 Angry Men
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