12 Angry Men (DVD, 2008, Canadian; 50th Anniversary Edition)

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12 Angry Men --- Henry Fonda provides a stellar performance in this classic film

Mar 9, 2008
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:extremely well done, great character acting, impressive use of camera and dialogue

Cons:none

The Bottom Line: A classic film just as great now as when it was first released, this is an impressive movie that is not only enjoyable, but very moving and character-driven.


The 1957 release of 12 Angry Men seemed to be quite ground-breaking in the original storytelling as well as the themes being used to present a taunt tale. A little more than 50 years later, the themes being addressed could have been pulled right from today's headlines, making the movie just as relevant now as it was when it first hit theaters. They have of course re-done the story since then, but it doesn't really hold a candle to the original black and white interpretation of the Reginald Rose original screenplay. A lot fell on Director Sidney Lumet to present a story that would not simply astound its viewers or make them think twice about their beliefs, but tell a story that would really hit home with an audience willing to go along for the ride.

The story of 12 Angry Men is about 12 jurors being called together to decide the fate of a young man. The person on trial is a young Spanish-American boy, and the decision they are faced with is deciding if he is innocent or guilty of murdering his father. Both sides of the case have rested, presenting their case, and now the jurors are sent off to make their decision about the future of this kid. It appears at the outset that it is an open-and-shut case, where a guilty verdict would be the most obvious choice, but there is one juror who has a question of consciousness about sending someone to their death without going over the evidence thoroughly. This puts the entire jury into an upheaval, as this singular man is keeping everyone from getting out of the stuffy room and back to their families and sporting events.

That sole fighting to review all of the evidence is Juror #8, not really given a sense of being at first other than that, simply because it works better for the story to just refer to the jurors as numbers. This keeps it from personalizing things early on, and additionally makes it easier for the audience to keep track of the 12 different men in the pool. Juror #8 is played by Henry Fonda, in what I truly feel is one of his best roles, and though he isn't always the focal-point of the story itself, he completely steals the screen when he does get to utter his lines in the story. His character also isn't supposed to be one of those over-the-top people that impresses his will on everyone else, but one which seeks to show everyone that there could be something outside the scope of the evidence being presented. From this standpoint the story becomes quite dramatic as these 12 men butt heads trying to decide what their ultimate verdict is going to be.

12 Angry Men is one of those films that you really have to stick with to fully enjoy the development of both the characters and the story itself. Each of the roles of the jurors slowly comes out of the shell through the progression of the movie, and each has their piece to say in how this case is going to turn. It is amazing to watch at times how well the use of colors and camera angles can turn the audience to believing one thing, or is used to empower certain aspects of the story. With good direction, and of course Henry Fonda taking on some of the most poignant lines of the story, this film really impresses throughout. It could be one of the best trial films that have been seen on film, and even though most of the movie takes place in a single room, it remains exciting and interesting until the very end. It is one of the true classics in film history, and one that I feel everyone who is a fan of great films needs to see.










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