What can I possibly say about this masterpiece? It is surely one of the greatest movies, a work full of layers of meaning, of symbolism, of psychological and artistic subtleties. You can wach this movie an infinite number of times, because each time you discover something new. I would just like to bring up one often neglected point. For me, this movie shows the shift in acting styles after World War II - a shift towards more naturalistic approach close to "method" acting. Many of the younger members of the cast - such as Martin Balsam and Jack Klugman - seem to belong to this new school. Just watch such things as Klugman's slow reaction when it dawns on him that Cobb is yelling at him, or the foreman (Balsam) as he "gives up" and sulks in the corner. The movie is full of wonderful and telling details such as these. I also think that the style of this film bears some relation to Italian Neo-Realism of the 40's and 50's (eg. stark setting, realistic dialogue, and filming in "real time", including seemingly mundane actions). And has anybody noticed that this movie obeys the "unities" of classical Greek drama (of time, place, etc.)?
And to those cynics who think that this is a movie about a clever man who manages to convince eleven men that a guilty youth is innocent - think again. I have actually lain awake at night worrying that the young man probably is, after all, guilty! But for the purpose of the film it doesn't matter. This is not a whodunnit; it is about human character and human behavior, the law, how our backgrounds color our attitudes, and countless other themes. And of course it is a showcase for twelve SUPERB actors.
(But please, who wrote the text on the back of the video cover? "Eleven jurors are convinced that the defendant is guilty of murder. The twelfth has no doubt of his innocence." WHAT?!! Did this person even watch the movie?!)