Produced by Henry Fonda and Reginald Rose (screenwriter and the author of the original play) and directed by the great Sidney Lumet (in this his cinematic debut) this mainly jury room centred film, is quite simply the greatest film ever made. Lumet, who cut his teeth in television, brought a lot of unknown television acting talent with him to this unique piece of work. Seasoned film actors, Fonda, Lee J Cobb, Ed Begley, Robert Preston and E G Marshall dovetail seamlessly with the other players, among them Martin Balsam, Jack Warden, Jack Klugman and Edward Binns.
The plot is ridiculously simple. A young Hispanic man is on trial for murdering his father, and in what appears to the majority of the jury, an open and shut case of guilty.
One man, Henry Fonda, as juror number 8, stands alone as the dissenting voice against the prejudice and preconceived ideas of the other 11. Though bit by bit, the evidence is broken down and what initially appeared so certain becomes a reasonable doubt in enough of the jurors minds as to expose the bigoted notions of a couple of them.
The essence of this film is in it's refreshing simplicity in terms of staging, dialogue and delivery. The actors are all on top of their game, working with first class material. Other films rely on epic sets and or clever camera techniques to hold the audiences attention. (I discount Citizen Kane from that as it was a true landmark achievement) This film, above all others, proves that that is not necessary. Twelve Angry Men rewards the viewer even after the 30th watch (certainly in my case! I could play the parts myself, although not quite as good!). Simply the best!