Life Is In Their Hands, Death Is On Their Minds – A 1957 tagline of Sidney Lumet‘s conspicuous masterpieces, and is justly regarded as one of the most auspicious directorial debuts in film history.
Lumet deliver the plot’s in a dissenting juror (Henry Fonda) in a murder trial slowly manages to convince the others that the case is not as obviously clear as it seemed in court. The court case provides only a framework, however. The film’s greatness lies in its bringing-together of twelve different men who have never met each other before and the interaction of their characters as each man brings his own background and life experiences into the case. Thus, we have the hesitant football coach (Martin Balsam), the shy, uncertain bank clerk (John Fiedler), the aggressive call company director (Lee J. Cobb), the authoritative broker (E.G. Marshall), the self-conscious slum dweller (Jack Klugman), the solid, dependable painter (Edward Binns), the selfish salesman (Jack Warden), the calm, collected architect (Fonda), the thoughtful, observant older man (Joseph Sweeney), the racially bigoted garage owner (Ed Begley), the East European watchmaker (George Voskovec) and the beefcake advertising agent (Robert Webber). Almost the entire film takes place in just one room, the jury room, where the men have retired to consider their verdict.
Prominently, the film illustrated that they are wonderfully woven in human elements such as prejudice, the strife of male ego, the misconceptions that influence people and the growing tension between different characters.
Thus, this film brought to life even more by the amazing performances of the astonishing cast, the simple plot, astute conversation and a contemplative story are just some of the enduring pleasures of a truly masterpiece.