12 Angry Men

Sidney Lumet’s first film (1957) adapts a Reginald Rose TV play about a serious-minded juror (Henry Fonda, naturally) who gradually convinces his 11 colleagues to reconsider the guilt of a Puerto Rican youth on trial for murder. A somewhat pat liberal parable that reeks of its period, the film is pretty much saved, or nearly, by Lumet’s tight direction and the capable performances, which are virtually restricted to the same closed room. Mechanically written, but within its own middlebrow limitations, it delivers the goods. With Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam, E.G. Marshall, Jack Warden, and Jack Klugman. 95 min. (JR)

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