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12 Angry Men
3 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Sidney Lumet

Written By:
Reginald Rose

Cast:
Henry Fonda, Martin Balsam, Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman, Robert Webber, Ed Begley Sr., John Fiedler, Jack Warden, George Voskovec, Edward Binns, Joseph Sweeney

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12 Angry Men (1957)
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Movie Review by Jarrod
November 12th, 2007

'12 Angry Men' generates dramatic tension simply by having jury members argue over the fate of a teenager accused of killing his father, a simple premise brilliantly crafted and exploited by director Sidney Lumet and screenwriter Reginald Rose. Henry Fonda is the lone dissenter, who believes there is reasonable doubt, and wants to re-examine all the evidence. He regards his duty as something important, he does hold someone's life in his hands, his colleagues are all initially rather impatient, and believe the case is open-and-shut. We know these men by their number, not by name. Fonda is Juror #8. Jack Warden is #7, who wants to get to a baseball game. Martin Balsam in #1, who repeatedly calls for votes, and gradually finds them splitting down the middle. Lee J Cobb is #3, who constantly harasses Fonda and thinks he is just wasting everybody's time.

Ed Begley is #10, who is motivated in part by racism to announce his verdict, and who finds his grammatical errors being corrected by #11, presumably an immigrant or naturalized citizen. One by one, Fonda persuades them, but some seem willing to agree with him only so it speeds things up, but others are compelled by their own conscience, once the evidence and testimony is meticulously scrutinized. It is a truly masterful film. And what a collection of actors, from Fonda to Warden to Balsam to Cobb to EG Marshall and Begley. The dialogue is fiercely compelling, and Rose's script was nominated for an Oscar, along with Lumet for Director, and the movie itself for Best Picture. It lost to The Bridge on the River Kwai.

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