May 16th: 11 angry, 1 less so…

12

106. 12 Angry Men (Sidney Lumet, 1957) #9 in IMDB top 250

12 Jurors convene in a room to decide the verdict in a 1st degree murder case. Eleven of the men immediately vote the boy on trial, guilty. One juror claims that the case isn’t as open and shut as the others would believe and so the conversation to decide whether or not this eighteen year old boy lives or dies begins. This is watertight film-making of the highest order. For 90 minutes there is tension and drama and only one setting (aside from a small section in the courtroom at the start and outside the room at the end). It overcomes the biggest challenge of any play that is transferred to the screen, it is cinematic. More so than many films with more extravagant settings. Sidney Lumet shows an expert hand in manipulating the camera to keep the whole piece interesting and the project is aided by some excellent performances all round – particularly from the headliners Lee J. Cobb and producer Henry Fonda.

There is a pretty heavy liberal ideology in the film which I couldn’t help but be charmed by, especially in the current climate of American politics where the battle lines have never been more clearly drawn. This is a classic work of great American drama which is never dull, not for a second. Oh, cheers to Richard for the lend of the DVD too.