|12 Angry Men (1957)
||[Apr. 14th, 2004|01:00 pm]
Do you wish to be teleported by film through a time-warp?|
In the days before 24-hour Court TV coverage, pre-selected, 'hand-picked' juries, during the days of open segregation, open hatred, and open and shut cases, Sidney Lumet put on this adaptation of a play in film.
It was up for Best Picture in the 1958 Academy Awards, and it was beaten out by The Bridge on the River Kwai.
We find ourselves as the Court TV-like camera. 12 jurors are ordered to deliberate a murder case in which an 18 year old has been charged with the murder of his father.
Lumet's film takes place almost completely in one room. The 18 year old character on trial appears only for a few seconds on camera. The entire story unfolds in the chamber of the jury. The 12 jurors go over the case, and the conflict begins when 11 men vote for a guilty verdict. The one man who does not, Henry Fonda, playing Mr. Davis, mentions that he simply is not convinced by the presentation of the prosecution.
12 Angry Men is quite worthwhile as an interesting study of the development of characters. The very fabric of the design of the court system is displayed, and logic, morals, and ethics help to define the characters. The dramatic edge is set early, when the judge reminds the jurors before deliberation that a guilty verdict is one of certain sentencing of death, as the death penalty is mandatory for a guilty verdict in pre-meditated murder.
I enjoyed the performance from Henry Fonda. Jack Klugman is also another recognizable actor to me. The entire cast, Ed Begley, Lee J. Cobb, Jack Warden, they were all wonderful. Joseph Sweeney, playing Mr. McCardle, had the honor of this film being his last big screen performance, according to IMDB. What a fine ending to his movie career, I say, as his role is very important. Each character, even the unnamed jurors, has considerable definition, and the dialogue of the film fits the characters as they are defined. The writer, director, and actors all knew their roles, and the detail of the characters seems pretty flawless to me.
For writer-aspiring types, this is a great film just to see how the characters are defined. For director-aspiring types, this is a great film to see the sheer difficulty of maintenance of dramatic material with such a limited set.
The film defines 'innocent until proven guilty.'