One man against the world.
It sure feels that way for Henry Fonda, as the lone juror holding out for innocence as a young man is railroaded for murder in Sidney Lumet’s crackling verbal thriller.
The action goes down in the jury room, as a band of middle-aged dudes decide the fate of an (unseen) 18-year-old, accused of knifing his father.
The cast is jam-packed with name actors, and all get their moment to shine.
None more so than Lee J. Cobb and Ed Begley, Sr. as the “villains,” and Fonda, one righteous man standing firm for truth and justice.
The gold standard.
Every other western film ever made, even classics like Unforgiven and The Wild Bunch, fall short when compared to Sergio Leone’s melancholy masterpiece.
At least in my eyes.
You’ve got a flinty-eyed Charles Bronson stalking the prairie, accompanied by the wail of a harmonica and the scent of death.
Jason Robards as a more honorable than you might think bandit, Claudia Cardinale at her most breathtaking, and Henry Fonda going against type as a black-hearted killer who shoots kids, a smile/grimace on his face.
Add in Ennio Morricone’s career-best musical score, and this can’t be beat.