Saturday, September 14, 2013

12 Angry Men (1957)

Director: Sidney Lumet
Writer:    Reginald Rose
Cast:       Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam

12 jurors in a claustrophobic room, on a hot sweaty day, trying to reach a consensus on a  murder trail where the odds are stacked heavily against  the 'Not Guilty' verdict.

I had seen the film about five years back and didn't really think I would find it as great as I thought of it as back then on repeat viewing. You tend to notice all the subtle things that you missed first time round. I have seen many film fans who watches plenty of good quality films but are not  big fans of repeat viewing Some would say a film should convey everything it has to say on just one viewing whilst others say they simply don't have time. The thing is the film might not have changed over the years- but you change, your world-view changes and the perceptions you have about the film changes. Good films are worth revisiting.

Henry Fonda plays an architect who is the only one who think he didn't see enough evidence to reach a 'Guilty Verdict'. Over the course of film he persuades others to change their verdict as the jury verdict has to be unanimous for it to hold. Great thing about the film is that all the 12 jurors are etched out very well and you actually remember them by their background and nature by the end of the film. You have the annoying Yankees fan who reminded me very much of the usual Manchester United fans. Then there is Lee J. Cobb who gives a great performance as the troubled father of a 22 year old who is clouding his judgment based on his personal troubles. You have the prejudiced guy with a running nose, a European immigrant who knows  Spoken English, Working class man, guy who did well from his slum background,smug wall-street guy, wise old guy, funny guy from advertising, too polite guy, well-mannered school teacher who is the moderator and then of course the Henry Fonda character who is an architect. One might think a bit of stereo-typing is going on but you don't feel like it when watching the film. The film is about how prejudice and all other minor things going on in your life cloud everyone's judgment. If you end up wondering whether the boy was guilty or not at the end of the film-then you are really missing the fucking point.

12 Angry Men is certainly Sidney Lumet's best film but all said and done 'Dog Day Afternoon' is still my favorite.

Rating: 5/5