At home alone, looking to be inspired? Try a POWER OF ONE Movie. Tonight on Turner Classic Movies, you can catch 12 Angry Men. Here’s a Cinematherapy take:
12 Angry Men (1957)
Stars: Henry Fonda, Jack Klugman, Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley, E.G. Marshall, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, John Savoca, plus another five angry men to round it out
Director: Sidney Lumet
Writer: Reginald Rose
This classic courtroom portrays just how hard it can be to achieve justice when the deciders are locked in a claustrophobic jury room on a muggy summer day, with a broken fan that serves as a reminder of how the inconveniences of life can render us prisoners of our lower selves. Let’s face it: It’s hard to be patient and compassionate when you schvitzed through your starched white collar shirt and tie before you even got out of the courtroom. Clearly, this jury could’ve used some tank tops and muscle shirts along with ice water and racial and gender diversity, but then, it’s a story set in an era when 12 white men in suits weighing whether a poor Hispanic kid would be found guilty of knifing someone wouldn’t make a judge blink.
Unbeknownst to the defendant (John Savoca), he is within a whisper of being sentenced to the gallows because of the frustrations of a bunch of fellows longing for casual Friday wear and a decent ventilation and a/c system. Fortunately, one man—juror number 8 (Henry Fonda)—isn’t willing to ditch his duty for a quick escape. Despite his fellow jurors’ flaring tempers, racist speeches, and impatience with logic and facts, juror number 8 insists on exploring the evidence and testimony in further detail. As the afternoon wears on, we recognize that each man has an insight rooted in his personal experience which, collectively, will flesh out the picture of what happened that fatal night and allow the truth to emerge. But will the desperate need for a cold drink and a gentle breeze thwart juror 8’s efforts to bring out the best in his fellow anonymous peers?
When you’re feeling under pressure to cave in to the majority, 12 Angry Men is a refreshing reminder that democracy doesn’t mean the bullies get to rule and the quiet guys have to conform. Its eloquent portrayal of acting from courage and conscious will inspire you to believe that you, too, can keep your head while those about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, to quote Kipling, simply because their Arrid solid stopped working.