Being the resident "film guy" in pretty much every group of friends I have, there's one question I get a lot, namely, "What is your favorite movie?" For the longest time, this question was the most surefire way to get me stuck in some sort of mental 20 goto 10 loop, but luckily, I seem to have found a way to escape that one. How, you might ask? I have decided my very favorite movie, and unless something changes, I now have an answer. So, my favorite movie? 12 Angry Men from 1957.
12 angry men is the story of twelve men on jury duty as they try to reach a consensus in a case where a young boy from a bad neighborhood is accused of murdering his abusive father. At first, the vote is 11 for the boy being guilty, but Juror #8, played by Henry Fonda, is not so sure. Slowly, but surely, he convinces his fellow jurors that the case is more complicated than they assumed, and that there's room for reasonable doubt. Maybe one of the most interesting thing about this movie is how it's set almost entirely in one small room, the juror's room. As one might be able to glean from my posts about Devil and Buried, I find the thought of movies set entirely in one set to be fascinating, if nothing else for the sheer skill it takes to make a coherent, exciting story without being able to cut away, not to mention the challenge to all involved to make the thing interesting both story-wise and visually.
12 Angry Men delivers everything I require in an one-set film in spades, the dialog is informative and engaging without being on-the-nose, and the exposition is presented more as a puzzle than a laundry list of what happened, and that's possibly the thing that makes this thing tick, we're not as much told what happens as much as we experience the main characters going over what they know and trying to judge the value of the evidence and witness statements, it ties the plot regarding the crime together very well although, of course, we never get any definitive proof that the rising theory, that the boy is innocent, is correct, and he could, in fact be a murderer for all we know, but since there's reasonable doubt in the case now.
Another thing I love about this movie is the characters. Granted, not all of the 12 jurors are all that fleshed out, but we still have some very memorable characters. There's Juror 8, of course, our hero, a strong-willed man that resists peer pressure in the name of justice, Juror 3, the most obvious antagonistic character with some unresolved family issues clouding his perception of the case, Juror 4, who remains calm and analytical to the end, and actually presents a coherent and logical case for the boy's guilt, Juror 9, an elderly man who sides with 8 early and provides the final clue, actually, I realize most of the characters are interesting, although there are one or two that at least aren't very prominent.