12 ANGRY MEN (BLACK AND WHITE, 1957)
Henry Fonda, Martin Balsam, Lee J. Cobb, John Fiedler, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman, Edward Binns, Jack Warden, Joseph Sweeney, Ed Begley, Robert Webber and George Voskovec
7 and up
Twelve jurors, led by juror #1 (Balsam), go into a jury room one hot day to reach a verdict on the case in which a teenage boy, a black, has been charged for stabbing his father. 11 of the jurors rule the son guilty; the one who does not is juror #8 (Fonda) as he thinks there is room for doubt. He then tries to convince the rest of the jurors that the suspect is not guilty.
|The 12 Angry Men, stuck in the jury room. They can't leave until they have reached a unanimous decision on this case.|
Why it’s good:
Because it is the best movie in this bunch; it seems real time. There is only one room and then there are 12 men – angry ones. All eager to head home.
Maybe just from the snippet above you would think that kids would get bored with 1 hour and thirty minutes of that as all the action takes place in just one room, the jury room. But it is highly watchable, and you would appreciate the personalities of all the jurors. More importantly, it teaches us to be human and not discriminate others by skin colour.
Lee J. Cobb has a son in this movie, though never shown, but kept being talked about. Robert Webber keeps jumping around the guilty-not guilty camps. Then there is the lead, Henry Fonda, who acts here wonderfully, and proves that he could play roles other than cowboys.
Not surprisingly, it lost the Best Picture Oscar to 1957’s "The Bridge Over River Kwai". The message, here, though, is very easy to convey and take in. It is not only a good movie, it is also good for you.
After seeing this movie, I asked some people about the American judicial system, and they told me to go figure. I looked for more courtroom dramas, and I found no other movie like this. Most of the other courtroom drama had the action outside the jury room. So you could say this is more special than the rest.
In re-enacting how the jury think the murder is committed, they use a knife, and it looks as if they are going to kill each other but the man holding the knife puts it in one of the juror’s ties.
Henry Fonda was both actor and producer in this film. He was, however, very frustrated being producer and decided never to be one again. Juror #8, as portrayed by Fonda, has been voted one of the American Film Institute's top heroes.
If you like this…:
The TV movie remake of the same name in 1997 bears much resemblance. It has George C. Scott and Jack Lemmon as two of the many jurors, with the accused being played by Douglas Spain. "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962) is another courtroom drama that explores the theme of racial discrimination in America.