1957 Movie Review: 12 ANGRY MEN, 1957

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12 ANGRY MEN MOVIE POSTER
12 ANGRY MEN, 1957
Movie Reviews

Directed by Sidney Lumet
Starring: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley, Martin Balsam, John Fieldler, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman, Ed Binns, Jack Warden, Joseph Sweeney, George Voskovec, Robert Webber
Review by Christopher Almeida

SYNOPSIS:

A dissenting juror in a murder trial slowly manages to convince the others that the case is not as obviously clear as it seemed in court.

OSCAR nominee for Best Director, Best Picture, Best Screenplay

REVIEW:

‘All rise…the court is in session…’ Well, actually, it isn’t. The real drama in this Court Room happens in the Jury room. 12 Jurors have to come to an anonymous vote. While everyone votes guilty, our male protagonist, Juror 11, isn’t quite so sure. This case has to be treated delicately – after all, the defendant has the death penalty for murder.

The hero comes in the form of Henry Fonda. The star has appeared in 106 films. The most famous are 12 Angry Men, The Grapes of Wrath and On Golden Pond.

The director comes in the form of Sidney Lumet, who has made the transfer from television to film. However, don’t let that discourage you- judging by this film, he has done it successfully. Lumet churns the issues around the room using character and innuendos and as a result raises the stakes at a steady pace. For further evidence- it won him the Golden Bear award at the Berlin International Film Festival. The film also won three Oscar nominations.

Lumet’s transfer from one Medium to another may explain the number of close-ups. This isn’t bad thing at all – it does create a nice intense, powerful atmosphere. The close-up shots come in handy when searching for empathy. Lumet gives close-ups to every other character except for the hero at the start of the film. It is almost to the effect that we are examining the evidence and, indeed, the other jurors. This creates the most empathy because we don’t know how it’s going to end and neither does Henry Fonda.

Most heroes, in films, are sure of their objective half an hour into a film, this hero is unsure throughout.

At this point you must be thinking what is Henry Fonda’s character name? This is first thing that separates it from other films. We don’t learn any of the character’s names. The film concentrates on hero and his journey. Not a single line is wasted; all the characters are sculpted using actors from the highest caliber. Another distinction is the cinematography. Which mainstream film uses more close-ups than long shots? Yeah, I heard you- except for The Blair Witch Project! The film together with Rose’s screenplay is a masterpiece.

Reginald Rose’s screenplay is very well crafted. Themes of stereotyping, second chances and ageism are perfect ingredients for the story’s substance. A nice cool beer on a hot day and sitting in your deck chair is the only description I have for the story’s substance without using a clinched word such as refreshing. The themes are well placed- two words- pitch perfect!

The only flaws here is that it relies on stereotypical characters to create predictable sub-issues; Sub-issues such as young, naïve boy and angry man. However, Lee.J. Cobbs does such a powerhouse performance that the flaw blows right over your head.

Target audience? It is for anyone who wants to think afterwards ‘Hmm…Now that was worth seeing!’ But seriously though, the ideal target audience is for 20- to however mature you may be.

Twelve Angry Men requires concentrated viewing but that doesn’t mean it’s boring. The dips into and out of story using light humour gives it a nice balance.

 

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12 ANGRY MEN

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Happy Birthday: Henry Fonda

henryfonda.jpgHappy Birthday actor Henry Fonda

Born: Henry Jaynes Fonda
May 16, 1905 in Grand Island, Nebraska, USA

Died: August 12, 1982 (age 77) in Los Angeles, California, USA

Married to: Shirlee Fonda (3 December 1965 – 12 August 1982) (his death)

Afdera Franchetti (9 March 1957 – 7 January 1961) (divorced)

Susan Blanchard (28 December 1950 – 2 May 1956) (divorced) (1 child)

Frances Seymour Brokaw (16 September 1936 – 14 April 1950) (her death) (2 children)

Margaret Sullavan (25 December 1931 – 14 March 1933) (divorced)

Read reviews of the best of the actor:

YOUNG MR LINCOLNYoung Mr. Lincoln
1939
dir. John Ford
Starring
Henry Fonda
Alice Brady

12 ANGRY MEN12 Angry Men
1957
dir. Sidney Lumet
starring
Fonda
Lee J. Cobb

Advise and ConsentAdvise and Consent
1962
dir. Otto Preminger
starring
Fonda
Burgess Meridith

The Wrong ManThe Wrong Man
1956
dir. by Alfred Hitchcock
Starring
Fonda
Vera Miles

MOVIE POSTERTENTACLES
1977
dir. by Ovidio G. Assonitis
Stars:
John Huston
Shelley Winters

FIRECREEKFirecreek
1968
dir. Vincent McEveety
Cast
James Stewart
Henry Fonda

ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WESTOnce Upon a Time in the West
1968
dir. Sergio Leone
Starring
Henry Fonda </a

MOVIE POSTERTHE LADY EVE
1941
dir. Preston Sturges
Stars:
Barbara Stanwyck
Henry Fonda

MOVIE POSTERON GOLDEN POND
1981
dir. Mark Rydell
Stars:
Katharine Hepburn
Henry Fonda

MOVIE POSTERTHE GRAPES OF WRATH
1940
dir. John Ford
Stars:
Henry Fonda
Jane Darwell

MOVIE POSTERTHE LONGEST DAY
1962
dir. Ken Annakin
Andrew Marton
Bernhard Wicki