Monday, January 7, 2008

12 Angry Men (1957)

Juror Six (Ed Binns): Well, I'm not used to supposin'. I'm just a workin' man. My boss does all the supposin' - but I'll try one. Supposin' you talk us all out of this and, uh, the kid really did knife his father?

Juror Eight (Henry Fonda): Ever since you walked into this room, you've been acting like a self-appointed public avenger! You want to see this boy die because you personally want it, not because of the facts! You're a sadist!
[Juror Three lunges wildly at Juror Eight, who holds his ground. Several jurors hold Juror Three back]
Juror Three (Lee J. Cobb): I'll kill him! I'LL KILL HIM!
Juror Eight: You don't *really* mean you'll kill me, do you?

An eighteen year old boy is on trial for killing his father, with the penalty set at death if he is convicted. A twelve man jury sits to deliberate his verdict, and initially only one man (Henry Fonda) believes he might be innocent. Taut, compact, black and white drama takes place completely in a hot, dank, tiny jury room, with 12 actors all having key roles in the ensemble cast. This isn’t about vindicating an innocent man; it is about prejudice, interpersonal relationships, and the concept of ‘innocent until proven guilty’. Standouts are Fonda, and Lee J. Cobb, but the whole cast is good, including a young Jack Klugman. Number 13 on the IMDB top 250 movie list. Unfortunately, missed out on Academy awards in 1958 when it ran into The Bridge on the River Kwai. Rating: 4 of 4 reviewed 12 Oct 2007

"A masterful work of debate and dialogue; of shifting momentum and the ideal of sticking to your scruples in the face of antagonistic groupthink."
- Phil Villarreal (Arizona Daily Star)

"This is a film where tension comes from personality conflict, dialogue and body language, not action."
- Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times)

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