118. 12 Angry Men (1957)

Talking it out

Directed by: Sidney Lumet
Written by: Reginald Rose
Starring: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb and Martin Balsam

12 angry men

Whatever it looks like... we're not a gang

Based on the teleplay by Reginald Rose, 12 Angry Men opens with a seemingly close and shut case of first degree murder that will send a young boy to the chair for stabbing his father to death. As the life of the accused rests in the hands of twelve men sitting for jury duty – all hoping the decision will be quick and unanimous – a single jury member’s doubt forces the other men to reconsider their views and overcome their prejudices against the potentially innocent boy on trial.

With its minimal use of space and characters, 12 Angry Men is a film that emphasizes the dramatic elements crucial to a compelling story, and a powerful film. Without having to move from a claustrophobic and rather sweltering room, or diverging from the heated discussion of the court case, 12 Angry Men relies on its strong script and distinctive characters to contribute ideas and perspectives on justice, personal prejudices and the necessity of compassion to fight against the odds. Each character, and the deeply convincing performances that lift the script into life are also offered to us through a keenly creative and economical sense of direction that enables the audience to navigate the characters, the plot turns and the dramatic progression and transformation of the characters with attention to detail and an immaculate sense of timing.


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