(out of 5)
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 with their 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 legal process, still shown in law classes today (a juror doing his own investigating would result in a mistrial).
Directed by Sidney Lumet
Screenplay by Reginald Rose
Cinematography by Boris Kaufman
Produced by Henry Fonda, Reginald Rose
Music by Kenyon Hopkins
Film Editing by Carl Lerner