Tuesday, 26 January 2010

12 Angry Men

If you find yourself staring at the tellybox in slack-jawed amazement because there are twelve complete strangers on there stuck in a room arguing for 90 minutes, one of two things has probably happened. Either a) you’re watching an extended episode of Big Brother, in which case you should turn off the TV set and go out and do something less boring instead (I suggest thrusting your head into a bucket of hot toe-jam), or b) you’re watching 12 Angry Men, in which case you should pat yourself on the back and treat yourself to a nice cup of tea or something, because it really is a quite brilliant film.

I vaguely remember watching Sidney Lumet’s courtroom drama about 15 years ago and thinking it was quite good, but after a recent period of upholding justice by serving on a jury at the Old Bailey, I thought I’d give it another go. For those living in shameful ignorance (a small village near Swindon), a brief synopsis: twelve jurors retire to consider their verdict in a murder trial. Eleven of them think the accused is guilty, but the other (Henry Fonda) has convincing arguments otherwise, and tries to talk the majority round.

12 Angry Men is an absolute masterclass in genius writing by Reginald Rose, and a veritable gallery of acting spiffiness by the likes of Fonda, Lee J Cobb, Quincy MD and Detective Arbogast from Psycho. What is essentially a group of cranky old geezers talking for an hour and a half is a genuinely gripping story in which the only action sequences are when someone gets up to go for a wee. Michael Bay has much to learn from it.

I can’t even put my finger on any central message the film has, because on one hand it’s about standing by your beliefs despite being in the minority, but on the other hand it’s about not being a stubborn twit and allowing people to change your mind if they’ve got a good argument. On another hand it’s about respect for other people, on yet another hand it’s about not allowing prejudice to get in the way of common sense, and on another hand still it’s about remaining calm in the face of a blustering idiot hole.

So essentially 12 Angry Men is a film with many hands, which makes sense having read this post but would be an incongruous poster quote. Perhaps this is why I haven’t yet been contacted by the Hollywood Marketing Board. Anyway, go away and watch it now and you’ll come away a better person. The Incredible Suit guarantees it.*

*The Incredible Suit does not guarantee it

Goodness me, how did that get in there?

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  1. What acting!
    What acting?
    What? Acting?

  2. Mr Inedible Underpants29 January 2010 at 14:55

    Its hard.... to imgine a remake could top the great drama of 12 Angry Men... but 12 Angry Chicks does it for me!