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12 Angry Men

Director: Sidney Lumet
Screenwriter: Reginald Rose
Based on: Reginald Rose’s story
Year: 1957
Starring: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall

None of the characters have names. They are only numbers. There are no car chases, there are no bombs. All but five minutes of the entire one-and-a-half-hour movie take place in a very small room with a couple of windows and a fan.

But this is still one of the greatest movies I’ve ever seen.

12 Angry Men is about a jury chosen to debate whether or not a teenaged boy should be executed for the murder of his own father. It looks like an open and shut case—all of the evidence is there in front of them, and all of it points to the boy, even though he says he didn’t do it. However, one juror—Juror #8—doesn’t want to just take five minutes to condemn a boy to death. Along the way, all of the men are forced to look at themselves and overcome their own prejudices and reservations.

All of the acting in this one is superb. Henry Fonda and Lee J. Cobb are the two opposing forces, symbolized by their coats—white and black, respectively—but my favorite character is Juror #3, played by E.G. Marshall. He is a stock broker, and he is the only one who looks at the entire case with an unprejudiced eye. He looks at it with a logical eye, and always concedes the point when it is made. While he stands on the side of guilty until the very end, he has a reason for it, a rational, unprejudiced, logical reason. And it really comes across with him—he never gets agitated or angry, like the rest of them do at least once. He never changes his attitude and he never changes his tone except to get a little more sharp occasionally.

My rating: Five out of five for it’s genre. Gripping, intense, spell-binding, and almost tear-worthy at the end.

Feel free to ask any other questions regarding the movie.


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April 2008

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