A lone holdout forces a twelve-man jury to deliberate the facts of a murder case and determine a guilty or not guilty verdict beyond a reasonable doubt.
12 Angry Men (1957)
Directed by Sidney Lumet
Written by Reginald Rose
Starring Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam, Ed Begley,
Jack Warden, E.G. Marshall, John Fiedler, Jack Klugman,
Edward Binns, Joseph Sweeney, George Voskovec, Robert Webber
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Director,
Best Adapted Screenplay
The courtroom drama happens to be a subgenre I enjoy very much. If constructed correctly, the courtroom drama can be more pulse-pounding and intense than any horror thriller out there. 12 Angry Men is one of the earliest and most celebrated courtroom dramas made in Hollywood, and it still holds up today thanks to its tense screenplay and fantastic performances. Henry Fonda leads this excellent group in a story about the importance of thinking things through. It really shines a light on how crucial the job of a jury is. A lot of people don't think about this, but it is up to them to decide a person's guilt or innocence beyond a reasonable doubt. And that's the most important part. Beyond a reasonable doubt.
A young man is accused of stabbing his father with a switchblade and fleeing the scene. The evidence is against him, and eleven of the jurors see no issues with declaring a guilty verdict. One of these men, juror #8 (Fonda), votes not guilty because he doesn't want to be quick to send someone to the chair without talking about it first. At first, everyone is defensive, but #8 manages to talk his way through the circumstantial evidence and pokes a lot of holes in the prosecutor's case. One by one, the jurors begin to side with him, apart from a few holdouts who we learn are committed to a guilty verdict for personal reasons. Lee J. Cobb stands out as the increasingly angry juror #3, who sees this whole thing as a personal vendetta against a boy roughly the same age as his own son. For his debut film, Sidney Lumet shows tremendous talent behind the camera, and this film remains one of his finest.
12 Angry Men is a bona fide classic that comes up a lot when people describe the best films of all time. I agree that it is a great film, with the talented cast playing off each other perfectly. The story brings up a number of interesting points about what's at stake here, and Fonda's commitment to justice is admirable. This is definitely a must-see for any movie buff.