Reed’s Ninth Favorite Film

5 May



Perhaps the greatest courtroom drama to not take place inside of a courtroom, 12 Angry Men started as a play by Reginald Rose with a masterfully simple premise: a young man is on trial for the murder of his father and his fate is in the hands of 12 jurors. As they deliberate on the trial and its evidence, what begins with one man against the other eleven becomes an incredible examination of the assumptions, prejudices, and judgments we make daily in the course of our lives. The film is an exercise in subtext, and it works not only as a gripping mystery story while the evidence against the accused young man unfolds, but also as a provocative portrait of the wounds and frailties that lay within all of us. The formula has often been duplicated in TV shows and movies (always translating the superficial mystery story and never translating the profound human undertones of the original). But Sidney Lumet’s film version, with its subtle power and threads of grace, is still my favorite.

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