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
Henry Fonda's venturing out to buy his own copy of the knife is not considered proper behavior for a jury, and could easily have gotten him ejected if the judge had learned of it. 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 »
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.
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