The Great Films – 12 Angry Men

by Alan Rapp on April 13, 2017

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: 12 Angry Men
  • IMDb: link

12 Angry Men movie reviewOur Throwback Thursday post this week takes us back six decades. On this date 60 years ago writer Reginald Rose‘s adaptation of his own teleplay opened in theaters. Directed by Sidney Lumet, the film was nominated for three Oscars yet took home none. However, over time both the National Film Registry and the American Film Institute have named it a film of great significance.

Set entirely in a courthouse, the film follows the deliberations of 12 jurors concerning a case of an 18 year-old accused of stabbing his father with a switchblade. When the film opens only one lone juror (Henry Fonda) has some doubt to the boy’s guilt. While going over the case with the reluctant other jurors, the man will slowly bring others to his side, to the great frustration of one juror (Lee J. Cobb) spearheading the other argument.

No names are used, with each of the jurors identified only by number, and others identified solely as “the boy,” “the judge,” and so on. Focusing on facts and deliberation, the film is tense throughout (although there’s only a single instance where any physical threat is made by one juror to another).

Possibly even more relevant today than at the time of its release, the film tackles prejudice, emotional versus factual arguments, and debate and consensus versus bluster and grandstanding. Fonda and Cobb headline the superb film. Its setting, the hot and claustrophobic jury room, becomes another character in the film as it slowly wears on the jurors, just as the facts of the case eventually do. Over the years the movie has been released several times on Blu-ray and DVD, including a 50th Anniversary Edition and Criterion Collection (which includes featurettes on the making of the film, interviews with the writer and director, and a look at the cultural significance of the movie).

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