Customer Reviews for

12 Angry Men

Average Rating 5
( 21 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    An American Classic.

    When asked which of his films he held in the kindest regard, Henry Fonda always mentioned "The Grapes of Wrath", "The Ox-Bow Incident" and "12 Angry Men", but it is possible "12 Angry Men" was at the top of his list because it was the one film on which he worked as a producer. Fonda admired Reginald Rose's television play and tried to get several studios interested in making it as a film but none thought it sufficiently commercial. He then formed a partnership with Rose and they raised the money to make it themselves. Rose had once served on a New York jury and his "12 Angry Men" is a dramatization of how disturbing an experience he found that to be. "12 Angry Men" is a fascinating but uncomfortably close examination of the workings of constitutional law and the fact that a person's life can be in the hands of 12 people who are themselves full of faults, failings and doubts. The film makes it graphically clear that the people who enforce law are all too human and that there are calm, decent people like Juror #8 (Fonda) who are willing to weigh the evidence and look for innocence rather than rush toward the verdict of guilt. The film won unanimous critical approval. Eleanor Roosevelt saw it and said she thought Fonda was magnificent, "but the whole cast is made up of excellent actors. As a character study, this is a fascinating movie, but more than that, it points to the fact which too many of us have not taken seriously, of what it means to serve on a jury when a man's life is at stake. In addition, it makes vivid what 'reasonable doubt' means when a murder trial jury makes up its mind on circumstantial evidence." "12 Angry Men" was the first film directed by then 32 year old Sidney Lumet ("Dog Day Afternoon", "Network", "The Verdict"), a stage director whom Fonda selected for this job. Despite not having worked with film before, Lumet keeps the action moving within the limited confines of the jury room. In this he had the help of the veteran cameraman Boris Kaufman. The most important factor in making the film was the selection of the jurors. They were all top grade actors, experienced with the stage as well as film, and their work here is an excellent example of ensemble acting. To get the effect he wanted Lumet rehearsed his cast for two weeks--the usual procedure with a play but not with film. He plotted every camera movement with Kaufman and he was thereby able to get an acting flow that gave life and excitement to what was essentially a claustrophobic set. The 95-minute running time of the film is also the time period of its action. It begins as a trial ends during a hot and humid summer afternoon in Manhattan's Court of General Sessions. Most of the action occurred on a single set, an actual jury room in a Manhattan courthouse, which involved huge problems of camera mobility and lighting. Such problems required that each close-up speech had to be filmed consecutively, for each actor, one at a time, no matter its final order in the movie--a lengthy process designed to test any film performer's skill. After long rehearsals, the actual filming was completed in twenty days. Despite the accolades, "12 Angry Men" did poorly at the box office when released in 1957. It was given conventional bookings instead of the specialized bookings such a film needs. Its European reception, however, was phenomenal, and it won several prizes there as well as in Australia and Japan. It brought Henry Fonda an Academy Award nomination as co-producer but not as an actor. Sidney Lumet and Reginald Rose were also nominated for Oscars. Filmed at a cost of $340,000, it never brought a profit to its producers. In fact, it never brought enough to pay Fonda his deferred salary. That fact never bothered him, although he vowed never to produce another film again, and didn't. Instead he took pride in the film's consta

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A Classic

    Just an absolute gripping drama, which I think stands the test of time. Despite the fact that nearly the entire movie is shot in one room, Henry Fonda gives a riveting performance as a man who stands by his convictions. A must-see, hands down.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A classic legal drama

    This is a classic. It is a must for anyone who enjoys a legal drama. Whether a law student or an efficianato of clasic drama, this is one for you.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    A Must See

    Everytime I watch this movie I still can't look away, even though I already the ending. The focus around this movie is how our judicial system works ~ innocent until proved guilty. It all takes place in a small stuffy room where 11 men believe the defendent is guilty and 1 man stands alone to show them the error of their ways. It is important that you listen to every conversation because it helps descibe who that person is and why he thinks the way he does. It really is a great movie!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A Course in Communications

    I have used this film in my class on Speech Communications. The various characters capture a vast array of the nuances of speech and communication that all students need to know and understand: both negative and positive. The fact that the cast and the drama are superb is icing on the cake. A 1997 TV remake w/ Jack Lemmon is not quite as good (4 stars), but still is worth watching, and in the classroom it makes for an interesting unit on comparison and contrast.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Simple and Complex

    The study of the men, notably the ones played by Fonda and Cobb, propels the action. The trial itself is secondary. The story calls for deceptively simple acting and the stellar cast keeps it that way. ''12'' is a truly remarkable examination of character, and the lack of it.

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    Posted July 9, 2010

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    Posted May 27, 2010

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