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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 13.56%
Just Average: 8.47%
Pretty Crappy: 1.69%
Sucks: 3.39%

2 reviews, 47 user ratings

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12 Angry Men (1957)
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by Slyder

"12 people rambling makes for great filmmaking? How is that possible?"
5 stars

Just like he did before with the Ox-Bow Incident, Henry Fonda fought with studio moguls to have this film made since he liked Reginald Rose's script so much. In the end, his wish was granted and enlisted a then-rookie director called Sidney Lumet to direct the film. It failed commercially despite earning several awards and prize nominations. But as everyone knows, commercial success or failure doesn't tell the whole tale but rather the content of the movie does. And just like The Ox-Bow Incident, this film managed to age gracefully and stand out as one of the finest films of its time. Who would’ve thought that you could get so much tension from a single set and 12 people rambling for 95 minutes? Lumet would later forge a legendary status later making several kickass films diverse in several subject matters, but it all started here, and one could not ask for a better start.

Simple plot: A boy is on trial for his life since he’s been accused of murdering his father. 11 jurors (Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley, EG Marshall, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, John Fiedler Jack Klugman, Ed Binns, Joseph Sweeney, George Voscovec, and Robert Webber) are convinced that he’s guilty; one juror (Fonda) has no doubt of his innocence. How can this one man steer the others into the same conclusion?

Sure, one can immediately scream “PREDICTABLE” at the mere reading of that outline, but there’s a difference between knowing how a film is going to end, and going through it towards the end, and if you can just give it that much, you’re in for a ride that’s worth the rent. The film is not necessarily about solving the case but more about the jurors being sure beyond a reasonable doubt that the boy is guilty of the crime that he’s been accused of. It takes us to a journey of tense and claustrophobic proportions as this one juror forces the other jurors to reexamine all the facts of the case to be sure that there are no holes in which they may send a possible innocent man to his death while at the same time averting and knocking down the several racial and personal prejudices that many of the jurors have.

The film contains several powerful scenes aided by some impressive camerawork despite the limited settings and top-notch acting. One might think that there are almost zero opportunities in making some good photography when the movie is pretty much completely shot in a single room. But Lumet is such a pro, as he intelligently uses different lenses and camera angles for each of the film’s thirds, the first being above the characters, the second leveled with them, and the third below them, each time using a longer lens closing in even more on the character’s faces and making the background walls seem closer and closer, tightening the tension to the movie to a point of near overwhelming proportions. All in all a very well crafted piece of work by Lumet backed by the aforementioned very intelligent and well-developed script by Reginald Rose.

In regards of acting performances, we have a large cast of them and ensemble acting couldn’t get any better here. Fonda, Marshall, and Begley all give superb performances, as well as then-newcomers like Jack Warden and Martin Balsam, but in my opinion no one tops the bill like the towering presence of Lee J. Cobb. The guy was one of the finest actors of his generation and also one of the most underrated, and here he gives one of his finest performances ever and his work here even earned him a Golden Globe nod; he truly deserved it, since he was a riot from start to finish. Shame the Academy passed on him though.

In the end, this film is fucking awesome and is a certified classic. If you seriously think that a film consisting of 12 people confined in one room that do nothing but talk and ramble for 95 minutes makes for boring filmmaking? Think again. Watch this film. Trust me, you’ll love it. 5-5

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=5803&reviewer=235
originally posted: 04/21/04 22:38:31
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User Comments

10/22/17 Anne awesome, one of my favorites 5 stars
3/14/13 Ionicera one of the best films of the 1950s 5 stars
7/24/12 Brennan With all due respect to Casablanca, possibly the most perfect film of the 20th Century. 5 stars
4/03/12 David Hollingsworth Tense, Claustrophobic, and Superb 5 stars
2/14/12 stanley welles courtroom tour-de-force 5 stars
1/15/12 John Outstanding and unique drama 5 stars
9/28/11 C.M. Chan Excellent drama, excellent civics lesson 5 stars
7/22/10 RLan A terrific drama and a must see for those who like movies about the law! 5 stars
1/27/08 proper amateur film critic A masterful work of debate and dialogue. One of the best films ever made 5 stars
1/24/08 Double M *This Space Is Not Enough to Do This Movie Any Justice*. Just try to learn anything from it 5 stars
5/27/07 R.W. Welch Adept writing and sturdy cast pull off something of a tour de force. 4 stars
5/13/07 jem the death penalty is an awesome responsibility! 5 stars
3/05/07 action movie fan tense thriller like atmosphere set in jury room-great dialouge 5 stars
2/14/07 Monday Morning You will love this excellent film if your IQ is anywhere over room temperature. Otherwise.. 5 stars
1/08/07 Anai Arias I LOVED IT!!! Its really a graet film! 4 stars
11/12/06 aishani great 4 stars
5/26/06 Lasse Poulsen Truly a Classic film. So small and yet so massive. You've got to love it. 5 stars
4/03/06 John Aster Habig Dialogue Character Study That's All A Great Drama Needs 5 stars
12/06/05 GaGaGman it was pretty good 4 stars
11/30/05 cynthia martinez it was alright..... 3 stars
11/27/05 Hans Voerknecht This movie is so unbelievable good 5 stars
6/16/05 Smitty Up against Bridge on the River Kwai, another of those gems that never won an oscar. 5 stars
5/02/05 Dit Beedee Wondeful! I wrote a research paper about this one. No action but amazingly intriguing. 5 stars
3/05/05 Charles Hemmingway Extremely good! loved every minute of it! 5 stars
12/22/04 Michael O'Connor Classic Cinema! One small set = One great film! 5 stars
12/10/04 Gonçalo Mendes da Maia One of a kind; the best of Lumet's movies 5 stars
9/26/04 alicia a classic! 5 stars
8/24/04 watever it was boring and annoying and got me restless 3 stars
7/27/04 mandish fundooo ... i hate senti serious stuff .. but this was cool .. kept me totally engrossed 5 stars
7/20/04 Sam It was ok but it gets a lil confusing 4 stars
7/20/04 Trubby It was an okay film some parts were really boring 3 stars
7/17/04 Richard not to be missed 5 stars
5/17/04 Kitina Blues I watched it in English class too, u know, and i was the only one who liked it!!!! 5 stars
5/11/04 Denise Duspiva slow 3 stars
4/14/04 Phe It was okay but I wish it would have been in color! 4 stars
4/03/04 john simply one of the best dramatic movies ever made 5 stars
3/04/04 Courtney you have to have a love for the court scene, if not you will not understand the film 3 stars
2/03/04 glenn george menor it's pretty dragging...a lot of talking happened.defeats the objective of movie making. 2 stars
12/09/03 Tim Wahl Exact reality of small group communications 4 stars
10/17/03 Josh Standlee I was forced to watch this crap in my English class! I hate this movie! 1 stars
9/08/03 Susan Orellana It is is my top 5 4 stars
8/21/03 EM EY ELLE Very well done, captivating throughout the entire film 5 stars
7/21/03 Ahnold One of the best 5 stars
7/16/03 Jon Lyrik Fantastic. 5 stars
4/25/02 Just a College Student..... i hate black and white films!! i am a child of the 80s and grew up w/ color tv 1 stars
3/14/02 Monster W. Kung Fantastic. One of the best classics. 5 stars
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  02-Feb-1958 (G)

Directed by
  Sidney Lumet

Written by
  Reginald Rose

  Henry Fonda
  Martin Balsam
  Jack Warden
  Jack Klugman
  Lee J. Cobb
  E.J. Marshall

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