Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB
Scintillating drama that takes place in one confined room, where twelve jurors are locked up in seclusion to decide the fate of a young inner-city defendant in a murder case. Most of them are ready to let the kid hang, but one (Henry Fonda) decides that he sees the possibility for doubt. The screenplay fleshes out all twelve fascinating characters as they trot out their problems with the world and themselves, until it’s impossible to tell if they really do believe in the defendant’s guilt or are just dealing with the disappointments of their own lives. Lee J. Cobb stands out as the most vocal of Fonda’s opponents in this exemplary motion picture that is, despite many erroneous details about the legal process, still shown in law classes today (a juror doing his own investigating would result in a mistrial).
The Criterion Collection: #591
Academy Award Nominations: Best Picture; Best Director (Sidney Lumet); Best Screenplay
Berlin Film Festival Award: Golden Bear
Golden Globe Award Nominations: Best Picture-Drama; Best Actor-Drama (Henry Fonda); Best Supporting Actor (Lee J. Cobb); Best Director (Sidney Lumet)