12 Angry Men (1957)

Let's start with the basics: I did NOT watch the colorized version of this. This movie is based on a play of the same name, and as is common with such movies of the time, the blocking and acting and pretty much everything isn't changed from the play. As this play all happens in one room, it makes for an easy play that lets you concentrate on the character interaction more than set design. It makes it a bit... undynamic for the movie watching audience.

So, going over the title, I will tell you this:
There are more than 12. The opening scene shows a courtroom full of people and a judge giving instructions. Also, the bailiff has a speaking role, so there are 14 speaking roles total.
They aren't all angry. There are at least a couple who are mostly just disinterested.
They are all men. At least that part of the title is unassailable.

Spoilers ahead (this was released in 1957 and has been running in community theaters since before then. If you don't know what happens and don't want to know, stop reading):

The movie was filmed in the late 50s, and it is pretty clear. The pacing is very slow, but that's to be expected from the era. The main thrust is that this jury goes into the jury room and debates. It starts will all but one person agreeing that the man is guilty, but that one holdout (played by Henry Fonda) has no compelling reasons, he claims that he just thinks there needs to be a discussion.

Through the course of events, the bits of evidence are called into question, and we are left to believe that the man is likely guilty, but the standard of reasonable doubt has not been met. And the standard seems to vary pretty widely with the individual's perspective. You can't develop 12 characters all that well in the time allotted. This is especially true when the blocking is so antiquated and the interactions are so stiff.

Those are really the downsides. When you take the movie in as a whole and a piece of cinematic history, you can see that the acting performances were impressive. I've never been a fan of Henry Fonda, but he did a very impressive job in this role. The supporting actors all did a stellar job in their respective tasks. It didn't take much to direct a movie that already had most of the work laid out from the stage, but it all seemed to work pretty dang well.

4.0/5

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