This film opens with a seemingly bored, uninterested judge addressing the jury about a murder case. An 18 year old Latino man is accused of stabbing his father, and the facts seem to point to his guilt. The defendant has a weak alibi, he said he was at the movies the time the murder occurred but he couldn’t remember details of the films he saw when questioned immediately after capture. A distinctive knife he claimed to have lost is found at the murder scene. There are witnesses who heard the screams of the victim, saw the killing, and saw the defendant flee the scene.
Once trapped in sweltering heat of the juror’s room (with baseball games to catch), 11 of the 12 jurors immediately vote guilty. Only Henry Fonda’s Davis stands up and maintains he is not sold beyond reasonable doubt. He then manages to slowly convince the other jurors that the case is not as clear as it seemed in court, doing a far better job than the defendant’s attorney.
This is a masterful film. The audience’s view is restricted, along with the jury members, to the deliberation room. The heat is a physical manifestation of the pressure of the situation, that a life is at stake. Fonda’s acting is superb and the film moves along at an exciting pace. Highly recommended.
Have you seen 12 Angry Men? What you think?