In 1954, an understated motion picture was released in theaters. Despite its invigorating content, the movie made very little money and was virtually unknown to the vast public for decades. About 25 years ago, this movie was rediscovered, and has since become an American classic.
12 Angry Men, starring Henry Fonda, E.G. Marshall, and Lee Cobb, is the story of twelve jurors who determine the fate of a teenage Puerto Rican boy charged with murdering his own father. In the wake of a week-long trial, twelve men, who remain nameless throughout the movie, convene in a small, sweltering room in a New York City court building. They begin their deliberation with a preliminary vote. Eleven of the men vote guilty, and one, Juror #8 (Henry Fonda), votes not guilty. The eleven jurors quickly illustrate the boy’s suspected guilt, laying out the supposed facts of the trial with emotion. Juror #3 (Lee Cobb) points out the details of an old man’s testimony, repeating the claim that he was awakened by a loud noise at 12:12AM on the night of the murder, then heard someone scream, “I’ll kill you!” After hearing another loud thump, the old man allegedly went to the door in fifteen seconds and witnessed the suspected murderer running down the stairs.
Amidst pointing this out, Juror #3 shows great abhorrence for young boys, stating that they have no regard for adults and are wild. He recounts a tumultuous relationship with his own son, revealing why they haven’t spoken to each other since a domestic altercation years ago. Other jurors also express negative personal feelings about the Puerto Rican boy, particularly Juror #10 (Ed Begley). He refers to the boy’s race as “his kind” and “those people”. He also says that “they” cannot be trusted, and that most of them are violent drunks.
Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) continues to be skeptical of the boy’s guilt, and shows the men an identical murder weapon he had bought in...