Movie Review: 12 Angry Men (1957)

Starring Henry Fonda

You see twelve men in a room and the changing landscape of how opinions are formed.”

-Ron Simon, 2011 curator at the Paley Center for Media

Who should watch:

  • Appreciate solid writing and acting
  • Worried about mainstream media warping American opinion
  • Want to see how an ordinary person can stake out and defend his own opinion amidst group dissent

This classic film is a remake of the 1954 CBS television show. It is the story of a jury deciding the verdict of an 18-year-old who allegedly killed his father. Their decision must be unanimous because it carries the death penalty.

The jury starts at 11-guilty, 1-not guilty. Henry Fonda’s character is not convinced that all the details and angles have been considered. The way he influences the group, one by one, is a study in psychology and communication. I worry that many men don’t believe in their own opinions enough to passionately defend them like this anymore. Even wrong, a person should be unafraid to say, “This is what I believe!”

This old, black-and-white, single-set film is surprisingly riveting. My teen and I enjoyed the gestures, manner of speaking, and character development. We usually watch things as a family, so this was a nice change from the usual WWE, The Garfield Show, and hard enduro racing—my other teen’s usual choices.

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