Twelve Angry Men, by Reginald Rose

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Four stars, read and reviewed in 2010.

I’ve been wanting to watch the Henry Fonda movie for years, but somehow had just never gotten to it. The instant I finished listening to the audiobook, I called Mike and asked if that could be what we did that night; so, after I picked him up from work, we rented the movie and watched it.

I actually liked the audiobook better. Henry Fonda is lovely in the movie—and played the character I knew he would be playing—and I discovered that Jack Warden is in While You Were Sleeping, which was a fun coincidence. Most of the characters were cast and played really well. But I thought the play was done better, and it had a bigger impact on me. (Of course, this may not be a fair assessment since I experienced them both within the space of a few hours, and my impression may have been different if I’d seen the movie first. But what can you do?) Hector Elizondo was the voice of one of the characters in the audiobook, for one thing, and I do love that guy. Also in the cast: Dan CastellanetaJeffrey DonovanKevin Kilner, and Richard Kind.

Anyway, if you don’t know, Twelve Angry Men is the story of a jury responsible for deciding the fate of a young Puerto Rican boy who is accused of killing his father. When they first convene, the vote is 11-1 in favor of guilty (and you can guess who the one is). The entire story takes place in the courthouse, and consists of their conversations and arguments regarding the evidence in the case. Personal prejudices come into play very strongly, from many different angles, and the relationships that develop between the jurors are powerful. It’s a bit simplistic, honestly, the way each person’s prejudice is revealed to stem from some particular incident, but I appreciate what was being attempted. It’s a suspenseful, emotional story.

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