The next film in the 2018/19 EYG New Year’s Eve/Day Binge-a-Thon is an Academy Award nominated film from 1957 that featured 12 men and one small room and none of that changed for over 90 minutes. 12 Angry Men showed some powerful actors and what they can do to create tense atmosphere with dialogue and characterization.
In fact, we get some impressive characterization without even learning their names, so to speak, settling for “Juror#4” and “Juror #7.”
Henry Fonda was the lone dissenting vote on a trial that we had not seen. 11 votes for guilty against a defendant that we do not meet. We learn more about the trial as the jury deliberates and, in that process, we learn more about each man.
Themes of racism, ageism, judgement by appearance all come up and are handled deftly and subtly as the group continued their contentious debate.
Henry Fonda was great in his role as Juror#8. We got nuanced performances from Lee J. Cobb, Jack Klugman, E.G. Marshall, Ed Begley and Jack Warden.
We have seen this trope in dramas for years, but this is where that very trope began. The performances were rock solid. It is amazing that director Sydney Lumet could create such a tone in his film in one location without any changes at all. The film is wonderful.
It is a simple film with nothing truly simple about it. If you look close, you can see the depth of character, story and dialogue.