For better or worse you can't make movies like this anymore, resembling theatrical oneacters. A strong debut from Sydney Lumet, that clearly shows his talent as an actors director. These characters come alive before us, as they do before eachother. Even if the plot is somewhat ludicrous in the way that detective fiction always seems so be when mixed with courtroom dramas.
I suspect this film wouldíve been more impressive in 1957. I think Iíve seen too many films where itís just people in a room, talking. Thatís not to say this one wasnít effective. Not at all. It kept me interested the whole time. The actors/characters were pretty, well, 1950s, but they were still great. I really liked the underlying themes about humanity and its bloodthirstiness. I expected a bit more, but I certainly understand why itís held under such regard.
Within the limits of TV-into-movie, Reginald Rose had written a very deft script, with delineated characters. The original 12 Angry Men still works very well. Indeed, the only thing that really mars it (apart from its excessive tidiness, and its willingness to settle for that) is Lee J. Cobb's overwrought performance and the assumption behind it that his character is a bigot. Somehow you feel that Otto Preminger would have made the man so much more charming, and then cast Fonda in the part.
I can't believe I put off watching this for so long. This is a perfect character study/court room drama. I mean really, THIS is how it's done. Fantastic dialogue, memorable characters, wonderful directing and cinematography. Even though it's 12 guys in a room, there are some really inspired shots here, and the camera work is incredible. This is pretty much movie perfection. Sure there are a few movies I LIKE a teeny tiny bit more, but this is top of the food chain.
What an amazing piece of film making. This shows that a movie can just stand on a brilliant screenplay and solid acting. The drama, the suspense, the acting and also the skills of Lumet to pull this of in just one room. ... Not only a movie which stands the test of time, but also a victory for democracy. Absolutely beautiful