Juror number 8, Joe Roberts, Frank Johnson, Frank Serpico and Sonny Wortzik were very different men. Number 8 was a middle class architect. Sergeant Major Roberts was a soldier. Frank Johnson and Frank Serpico were detectives. Sonny Wortzik was a bank robber. But in the hands of director Sidney Lumet, who died last month, all these men would have recognised each other’s dilemmas.
In Lumet’s first film ‘12 Angry Men’ (1957) number 8, played by Henry Fonda, retires on a sweltering summer’s day in New York to deliberate over the murder of a man by his teenage son. It’s a seemingly open and shut case; the boy has a criminal record and there are witnesses to the murder identifying him. A vote is held and the hands go up for guilty; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 but not 8.
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