Following the closing arguments in a murder trial, twelve members of the jury must decide the fate of an inner-city teen. The deliberation process brings out the jurors’ prejudices and preconceptions about the trial, the accused, and each other.
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This film must drive lawyers insane. As a philosophical inquiry into the American justice system—and "American" and "system" are the key terms—it's essential. As a procedural, it has all the tenuous speculation of Agatha Christie without any of the closure; that is, it could handle its own case better. But you can watch it almost by accident: just turn it on, and the ricochet dialogue will carry you away.
A flawless masterpiece - absolute perfection for the "type of film" it's striving to be. Yet another example for how great Lumet was as a filmmaker. You could actually make a hell of a argument for why this film deserves to make the list for the top 25 greatest directorial debuts ever in cinema... and thats not a exaggeration.
I always admired Lumet's smart way to shape a microcosm of social behavior and to show some of its dynamics depending on elements like prejudice or indifference. The way he stages every person with the camera and its movements is superb.
Lumet is a master of creative limitation. The deconstruction of unconscious and sub-conscious prejudice in this intense jury room drama focuses on the distortion of the processes of justice through misguided subjectivity. The claustrophobic jury room setting during a heatwave featuring an overload of bruised male egos is a surprising delight. Hell yes, this is a genuine classic.
A vindication for all those who believe there are things worth arguing about, and that anyone can change their mind. Lee J. Cobb shines in his role and the proof that he is a great actor lies in contrasting this performance to that of, say, Lt. Kinderman in The Exorcist. A man of incredible range. The final shot in the room is of the evidence on the table that once seemed so strong and convincing....
Gave it a rewatch last nite and it's even better and effective than I remembered. Side by side with Mike Nichols' Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, this may be the finest and outstanding debut on cinema screens like... ever.