A teen from the slums has been tried for the death
Of his father, and nobody’s holding his breath.
With two witnesses, it’s an undoubted fact
That the young man is guilty of this heinous act.
But there’s a lone juror who will not walk out
Until he’s convinced beyond reasonable doubt.
The other eleven who make up this jury
Respond then with skepticism or with fury.
An irascible sadist who’s quick to lay blame,
An impatient guy who’d prefer a ball game,
A foreign watchmaker, a prejudiced bigot –
They all hear his speech, but at first they don’t dig it.
Yet this lone Juror 8 who just won’t let this go
Begins earning allies who see they can’t know
For sure the boy’s guilty; what first was baloney
Begins to reveal holes in some testimony.
“Perhapses” and “Maybes” turn hearts of all kinds,
And one by one, everyone changes their mind.
From the knife that was used to the loudness of trains,
Their reasoning wins till one loudmouth remains.
This man who had claimed that he wished justice done
Realizes he’s mad at his own estranged son,
And, choosing to not take it out on this youth,
He changes his vote for the sake of the truth.

12 Angry Men, a film based off of a teleplay, takes place almost exclusively in a single room. Since it’s very obvious it was meant to be a play, there is little action, and the entire plot centers around 12 men talking and arguing. It might be called the Angry Dozen. It’s the kind of film that could not be made today with modern man’s focus on explosions or violence. No one would pay today’s ticket prices to see such a simply made film. (Few people did when it was released in 1957. The movie failed miserably.)

Yet it is a classic with brilliant performances from its dozen actors and deductive dialogue that would make Sherlock Holmes proud. Its claustrophobic use of camera angles and use of close-up scenes, with the actor staring into the camera (long before Jonathan Demme earned acclaim for this technique), allow its relatively boring plot to remain interesting. The stakes of a young man’s life are never forgotten and help with the tension as well. This is what I call a Triple A movie because it is All About the Acting. It’s not the kind of film I like to watch regularly, but there’s no denying its status as a true film classic.

Best line: (speaking of the young man) “Bright? He’s a common, ignorant slob. He don’t even speak good English.”

Artistry: 8
Characters/Actors: 9
Entertainment: 4
Visual Effects: N/A
Originality: 5
Watchability: 2
TOTAL: 28 out of 60

Tomorrow: #349: Dinosaur

© 2014 S. G. Liput