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…
Wow. Simply wow. There is no other way to articulate the feeling you get after watching 12 Angry Men, perhaps the zenith of Sidney Lumet's remarkably talented directorial career, even more amazing considering this was his debut feature. It's just one of those rare golden gems of a film that gets everything, literally everything, absolutely right. Script, direction, performances, tone, setting, story, the lot. It's perfect. It's exciting. It's gripping. It's meaningful. It's moving. And it may be close to sixty years old, but all of the many things it's trying to say remain relevant to our society, and sadly perhaps always will. This truly is a cinematic masterpiece that deals with not only the rule of law and it's…
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…
Review In A Nutshell:
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…
I seem to love every criterion movie I buy. I don't know if its because of denial from spending a decent bit on the films, or that the two that I have bought are both in the top 4 highest rated films on letterboxd (this and seven samurai). I think it's much more of the latter. But damn do I love the quality of the DVDs. They are beautiful. And I haven't even begun to watch the supplemental material for either of the movies.
12 Angry Men on paper sounds like a dull film, but couldn't be more exciting due to the phenomenal writing and acting. It somehow makes a one small location all conversation film as gripping as a…
This is truly a perfect film. It's not the most ambitious, it's not the most visually appealing; but in terms of doing what it sets out to do, 12 Angry Men is a complete success.
The film is a potent mixture of perfect script, perfect casting and direction which isn't flashy but does everything possible to service the story.
Truly deserves to be called a classic.
Not a detail wasted, purposeful without being heavy, efficient without being rushed.
Every character distinctly in character, even when in the background.
Tight yet meandering dialogue.
And the roaming camera work!!!!
Time infinitely well spent.
(Extra half of a star b/c this was Lumet's debut feature)
The film that made me a movie fan.
Few events were as tense as watching 12 Angry Men for the first time. Occasional legal wobbliness be damned, the natural development of Fonda's arguments are breathtaking to behold, and Lumet does a fantastic job at conveying the sweltering heat and claustrophobia present with his decision to focus the camera so closely on the actors' faces during their most passionate moments. Lee J. Cobb's righteous antagonist makes for one of my favorite supporting turns.
My love has continued to grow for it since. It is truly something to cherish.
I love how old films don't mind placing 99% of a movie in one tiny set. The film serves as a reminder that a jury should explore a case, rather than just decide to take the side of whichever lawyer swayed them the most. Also a good reminder that just because a case makes sense that doesn't mean that there isn't room for reasonable doubt.
It’s a tired old cliché but it applies here: they don’t make ‘em like this anymore. And they never will again. Can you imagine any of the major studios releasing a movie in theaters today that’s an intellectual morality play with a murder mystery at it’s core but wasn't written by John Grisham? And it’s NOT intended as Oscar bait, especially with this stellar of a cast? A one-room play, shot on film, featuring twelve rock-solid performances, 12 Angry Men is a classic that earns the label every minute of its runtime.
It’s a classic because the arguments made for and against the defendant’s guilt could easily play out today, fifty-seven years later. The same race and class prejudices are…
I don't know why, but I think this film is the social science version of Coherence. Oh sorry, I mean Coherence is the natural science version of 12 Angry Men for sure.
"It's always difficult to keep personal prejudice out of a thing like this. And wherever you run into it, prejudice always obscures the truth. I don't really know what the truth is. I don't suppose anybody will ever really know."
The brilliance of this classic is not the story itself, but how accurate "reasonable doubt" is portrayed to this very day. It's 2014 and our juries vary in race, age, socioeconomic status, and life background. This method allows us to combine a group of people who will be able to decide a person's faith in the most objective way possible. 12 Angry Men illustrates something that we often forget: there is no such thing as "lack…
"Hey!... What's your name?"
[shakes his hand] "My name's McCardle."
"Well, so long."
Though I'm only 22, I still feel fortunate to have only done jury duty once. What's more is that I only had to stay for one day. The thought alone of having to stay multiple days was agonizing enough. The stubbornness of some of the jurors is a bit baffling, but then again, that's the point. Six days of sitting through evidence and procedure certainly warrants the pugnacious condition of the men, magnified further by the sweltering heat and stuffy room.
The several murder puns are rather groan-inducing and the sheer talkiness of it is sure to turn off less patient audiences, but…
- 12 Angry Men
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- 25th Hour
- 3 Women
- A Trip to the Moon
- The Great Train Robbery
- The Birth of a Nation
- Les Vampires
All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1167. An easy way of seeing how…
- The Godfather
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- The Godfather: Part II
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most recent update - Saturday, October 18, 2014, 10:30 PM EST
The letterboxd crew has unveiled a new feature that…