When the menace known as The Joker emerges from his mysterious past, he wreaks havoc and chaos on the people of Gotham. The Dark Knight must accept one of the greatest psychological and physical tests of his ability to fight injustice.
The defense and the prosecution have rested and the jury is filing into the jury room to decide if a young man is guilty or innocent of murdering his father. What begins as an open-and-shut case of murder soon becomes a detective story that presents a succession of clues creating doubt, and a mini-drama of each of the jurors' prejudices and preconceptions about the trial, the accused, and each other. Based on the play, all of the action takes place on the stage of the jury room.Written by
Maverick (1957) adapted the story for Season 1, Episode 17, "Rope of Cards". See more »
When Juror #4 stabs the knife into the table for the first time, you can clearly see about a dozen previous jab marks in the wood from previous takes. See more »
Man in corridor:
You did a wonderful job, wonderful job!
To continue, you've listened to a long and complex case, murder in the first degree. Premeditated murder is the most serious charge tried in our criminal courts. You've listened to the testimony, you've had the law read to you and interpreted as it applies in this case, it's now your duty to sit down and try to separate the facts from the fancy. One man is dead, another man's life is at stake, if there's a reasonable doubt in your minds as to...
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At the end of the film, the actors are billed in order of their juror numbers; thus Henry Fonda, although the star of the film, appears 8th. See more »
A timeless film that shows the flaws in the jury system
... the main flaw being that everybody brings their own life experiences and history into the jury room with them, no matter how hard they try to be impartial.
Here you have a trial of a young boy who supposedly stabbed his father to death. When the jurors go back to deliberate on the case, ALL but one lone man played with a quiet courage by Henry Fonda states not guilty and the rest of the film is about trying to get them to his side. Quite amazing movie if you ask me. Fonda's case is not that the boy is innocent, but that the threshold of reasonable doubt has not been reached. The trick in this film is that it never leaves the jury room. You have no idea of what the defendant, the prosecuting attorney, or the defense attorney were like other than retroactively through the words of the jurors.
Writing this good just can't be ignored. Reginald Rose's screenplay is absolutely brilliant. Not only are the characters of twelve individuals indelibly implanted in your brain within the limited time span of about 100 minutes, but Rose accomplishes this feat without undue speechifying or pontificating about injustice or the failures of the jury system or expositional dialogue. The characters personalities come out in the course of the film and are not "set up" in the first half hour, (as in having the jurors explain to each other what their occupations and backgrounds are) as is the case with mediocre screenplays. As for the acting it is true ensemble greatness. All twelve cast members are excellent, although if you put a gun to my head and forced me to say who was best I'd express a partiality for Lee J Cobb as the toughest nut to crack for acquittal and E.G. Marshall as a juror who is all logic and no emotion other than arrogance. And Sidney Lumet's first film just may be his most fast paced. The hundred minutes whiz by! Not a dull stretch to be seen anywhere.
And yes, these are twelve white men judging a Puerto Rican boy, and yes Henry Fonda violated many classic rules of jury behavior when he introduced items into the discussion that were not official evidence, but this was 60 years ago and it IS a movie. So just suspend your beliefs and try to enjoy the art of the thing -the riveting dialogue, the character studies that don't choke each other out, and the brilliant camera-work that manages to make the room seem increasingly smaller so that you can appreciate the claustrophobia that must be setting in with the jurors as deliberations wear on and get more heated.
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