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Mainstream - 12 Angry Men

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12 Angry Men
Henry Fonda, Martin Balsam, Lee J, Cobb
Jack Klugman, E.G. Marshall, Ed Begley
Directed by Sidney Lumet
MGM 1957 Black and white
96 minutes

12 Angry Men is a classic American courtroom drama starring Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, and other superb actors like Jack Klugman, E.G. Marshall, and Ed Begley. Made more than fifty years ago, Twelve Angry Men is still relevant and its drama still gets to the viewer.

Twelve men are sequestered in a jury room to decide the fate of a young man accused of killing his father. Eleven of the men vote guilty and only one man votes innocent. That man, played by Henry Fonda, believes the jury should take its time to examine the case and not come to a rash conclusion. As the day progresses, elements of the case are examined and some of the proof is found wanting. The number of jurors who believe the young man is guilty slowly diminishes.

Director Sidney Lumet (Garbo Talks, Dog Day Afternoon, and, yes, The Wiz) does not stray far from the theatrical origins of this courtroom drama. The characters in 12 Angry Men are types fleshed out by a soliloquy. These are easily recognizable characters, making the jury one of ordinary men. Also making the jury one of twelve ordinary men is the fact you do not their names, something you are made to notice at the very end of the movie.

Personality conflicts, personal histories and prejudice color the men's decisions in a reflection of society then and now. Henry Fonda plays the lead and first man to question the defendant's guilt. Lee J. Cobb is solid as the holdout.

12 Angry Men is one of those movies you have to see at least once in your life.

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