The defense and the prosecution have rested and the jury is filing into the jury room to decide if a young Spanish-American is guilty or innocent of murdering his father. What begins as an open and shut case soon becomes a mini-drama of each of the jurors' prejudices and preconceptions about the trial, the accused, and each other.
|Release Date||:||March 25, 1957|
|Production Company||:||Orion-Nova Productions|
|Production Countries||:||United States of America|
|Director||:||Sidney Lumet, Don Kranze, Faith Hubley|
|Writers||:||Reginald Rose, Reginald Rose|
|Casts||:||Henry Fonda, Martin Balsam, John Fiedler, Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman, Edward Binns, Jack Warden, Joseph Sweeney, Ed Begley, George Voskovec, Robert Webber, Rudy Bond, James Kelly, Billy Nelson, John Savoca, Walter Stocker|
|Plot Keywords||:||judge, jurors, sultriness, death penalty, father murder, puerto rican, anonymity, court case, heat, group, class, innocence, court, courtroom|
This film deserves to be on anyone's list of top films. My problem is that it is so perfect, so seamlessly polished, it is hard to appreciate the individual excellences.
The acting is top notch. I believe that monologue acting is quite a bit simpler than real reactive ensemble acting. Most of what we see today is monologues pretending to be conversations. But in this film, we have utter mastery of throwing emotions. Once the air becomes filled with human essence, it is hard to not get soaked ourselves as the camera moves through the thick atmosphere. Yes, there are slight differences in how each actor projects (Fonda internally, Balsam completely on his skin...) but the ensemble presents one vision to the audience.
The writing is snappy too. You can tell it was worked and worked and worried, going through several generations. It is easy to be mesmerized by this writing and acting, and miss the rare accomplishment of the camera-work. This camera is so fluid, you forget you are in one room. It moves from being a human observer, to being omniscient, to being a target. It is smart enough to seldom center on the element of most importance, so expands the field to all men.
This is very hard. Very hard, to make the camera human. So much easier to do what we see today -- acknowledge the machinery and jigger with it. Do we have a filmmaker today who could do this?
Ted's Evaluation -- 4 of 3: Every cineliterate person should experience this.