Welcome to another edition of Movie Review Monday!
This week's movie is the 1957 classic, 12 Angry Men, starring Henry Fonda as the lone dissenter in a jury set on sentencing a teenager to death for the alleged murder of his father.
Even with this film being over 50 years old, I enjoyed it. While it did have some pacing issues, it was generally a solid film and earns its status as a great movie that stands the test of time.
The movie works well since it has a very simple premise. The entire plot unfolds in one room, with the twelve jurors discussing the details of the case. There is a underlying aspect to the story that it is the hottest day of the year in this town, so people are uncomfortable, grouchy, and just want to leave. Henry Fonda's character urges everyone to give the case a fair shake since the young boy's life is on the line if he is convicted and they need to have a unanimous decision. One by one, the other jurors are convinced that the case isn't as clear cut as was originally thought, and they all eventually come to a unanimous not guilty verdict. This doesn't spoil the movie, it's really engaging to watch still even knowing this by seeing how Fonda's character gets there.
What I really enjoyed about this film is how it seemed ahead of its time for some topics. A lot of the jurors weren't willing to give the boy a chance because he was from a "bad neighborhood" and the stereotypes they had about the underprivileged. They also gave a lot of focus on the importance of a fair trial and considering all the details of a case rather than the general, broad strokes of it. The only downside of course is that it is a product of its time in the fact it was a jury of twelve white men. It would be interesting to see a diverse cast do an update of this premise since it is a minimalist yet powerful framework to tell a story.
I really appreciated this movie as classic American cinema and I encourage any hardcore movie fans out there like myself to check it out.
12 Angry Men is currently streaming on Netflix!