Adam Cook’s review:
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.
4. You never see the defendant. It is an interesting choice that removes the audience’s prejudices from affecting how they view the film.
5. It’s a constantly twisting plot that keeps you glued to the edge of your seat and even attempts to challenge your own morals beliefs and prejudices.
6. But it still delivers a triumphant feel-good finale unlike any other film.
7. The film is chock-full of amazing and quotable dialogue.
8. 12 Angry Men manages to be both an indictment of the American judicial system and racial inequality and the system’s greatest advocate.
9. It is deceptively simple yet expertly crafted with a tight script, meticulous direction and career best performances.
10. It is a film for even those who ‘don’t do’ old movies. A genuinely universal film that will appeal to anybody.
11. Sidney Lumet never tries to show off his prowess as a director. Yet whilst it is unflashy it still remains very cinematic and, along with Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane, is arguably the greatest directorial debut in film history.
12. It is both timely and timeless, a rare feat in cinema.
The verdict is unanimous; 12 Angry Men is a bona fide masterpiece.