Review : 12 Angry Men (1957)
Director: Sidney Lumet
Writers: Reginald Rose (story)
Stars: Henry Fonda | Martin Balsam | John Fiedler | Lee J. Cobb
Sidney Lumet made his debut as a director in feature films with 12 Angry Men. The movie is simply one of the best carved out drama of all times. It is famous for building the entire plot and ending the same in just one room. Serving an example that extensive scenery, elaborate costumes or mind blowing visual effects are not necessary in making a great movie, it stands just on the superlative acting and a great story by Reginald Rose.
The 12 Angry Men are represented by the 12 jurors who have decide that an eighteen year old boy is the culprit in stabbing his father to death. If all of them agree of his conviction, the boy faces the electric chair. Out of twelve, eleven agrees of his conviction but one (played by Henry onda) refuses to accept that and has doubts. Will he be able to convince the rest of them against their decision?
We have 12 different men who have never met each other in their life. These 12 Angry Men have their own opinions and brings their own life experience while evaluating the case. The court merely provides them with the framework. This is exactly where the greatness of the movie lies. The Twelve Angry Men comes from different backgrounds - Martin Balsam plays the hesitant football coach, Robert Webber is an advertising agent, Fonda is a calm and collected architect, John Fiedler is an uncertain bank clerk, Joseph Sweeny is an observant old man, E.G. Marshall is a broker, George Voskovek is an East European watchmaker, Lee J. Cobb is an aggressive call company director, Ed Begley is a racially bigoted garage owner, Jack Klugman is a self-consious slum dweller, Jack Warden is a selfish salesman and Edward Binns is a dependable painter.
The jury room is the place where the entire movie takes place among these 12 Angry Men. This is the room where the entire pressure builds up. Somewhere in between you might feel all tensed up due to the heated arguments. You start questioning yourself whether the boy is really responsible for stabbing his father or the truth lies somewhere else. You will not even come to know of the names of the jurors till the end when two of them are mentioned. They have acted so well that there was no need. They speak of their characters.
12 Angry Men is indeed one of the greatest movie made ever. There cannot be a more simple setting than what this movie provides and along comes a terrific direction and screenplay. It should be watched by everyone for sheer brilliance of cinema it offers.