201. 12 Angry Men (U.S. 1957)

director: Sidney Lumet

screenplay: Reginald Rose

starring: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley, Jack Klugman, Jack Warden, Robert Webber, E.G. Marshall, Martin Balsam et al

 A young Latino accused of murdering his father is defended in the jury room by a civilised man.

Excellent directing from the ever reliable Lumet, a great script, and superb ensemble acting from all concerned make 12 Angry Men a must-see film for any decent human being 

               Henry 'Hank' Fonda                        Martin 'Alberto' Balsam

The stand out performance is of course from Fonda, a genuine star in so far as he is always convincing as the man of honour, the good, noble face of humanity and just the sort of dad that everyone dreams about, when from all accounts he was anything but any of these things.

In fact, not to put to fine a point on things, he was a bit of an Ernie (see below).

Some people were shocked when he was cast as the main baddie in 'Once Upon a Time in the West', but director Sergio Leone had long recognised Fonda's hidden cuntiness and didn't have to push him too hard for the desired effect.

12 Angry Men's power has not diminished in 50 years. Its theatrical origins are fairly plain to see, but the film's treatment of the dangers of racism and ignorance are as pertinent to today as they've ever been.

Lee J Cobb's very angry man is another highlight of the film, but my favourite part is the mass silent shunning of Ed Begley for his hideous racist beliefs.

A fantastic film.


       The real 'Hank Fonda'