12 Angry Men
Directed by Sidney Lumet. US. 1957. NR. 96 minutes. MGM. 35mm.
Sun., April 15, 2012
When he saw it on live television, Henry Fonda was so taken by this story, of one courageous juror standing steadfastly against his eleven peers in the name of justice, that he chose to produce it on film and take on the starring role. Taking place almost entirely within the claustrophobic confines of a stifling hot jury room, and featuring the talents of such noted character actors as Lee J. Cobb, Jack Warden, Jack Klugman, and many other soon-to-become famous faces, 12 Angry Men is both a character study and a lesson in decency. Beautifully mounted by first-time director Sidney Lumet, and written by Reginald Rose (both of whom were nominated for Academy Awards, as was the film itself), this is a film that stays with you long after the screen has gone black. Even though it did not make much money when first released, its reputation has grown with each passing year. In fact, Fonda himself named it as one of his favorite roles, up there with The Grapes of Wrath and The Ox Bow Incident. See it and find out why. (Bill Roth)