SPOILER ALERT!: The following review reveals a twist ending
It was courtroom drama night at SVU: 12 Angry Men and Witness for the Prosecution. Not only do these movies have a common theme, they also provide an interesting contrast to each other. More on that later.
12 Angry Men is surprisingly good considering its budget. The entire cast was only made up of approximately fifteen or sixteen people. Only twelve, as the name suggests, have very much to do with the plot. Only two sets were used, and only one took up about 90% of screen time. The film follows twelve jury members who are deciding the verdict of a teenager charged with killing his father. The overwhelming evidence against him convinces all but one of the jury that he’s guilty. When the votes are counted, Henry Fonda plays the character who admits to voting innocent. After much debate, the man brings other jurists to his cause, and what seemed like an open and shut case turns into a very long session between 12 angry men. This movie is very well done, hitting the message home that a person is innocent until proven guilty, and he must receive the benefit of the doubt. Quite frankly though, the kind of things they did in that room they would not get away with in an actual trial. They practically had their own separate trial in there.
Witness for the Prosecution is a stark contrast to 12 Angry Men in just about every aspect. It was on a much more normal budget, it took place over a much longer space of time, in a different country, and had nothing to do with the jury whatsoever (probably because they didn’t have juries in the British courtroom). The movie is about Charles Laughton’s antics as he tries to get his fill of brandy and prove that is innocent at the same time. Finally, the greatest difference that sets this movie apart from 12 Angry Men is the twist at the end where it turns out that the witness is actually guilty. Where 12 Angry Men told us to trust humanity, Witness for the Prosecution told us that men and women are deceptive, and even the most seemingly upright can be the most depraved. The movie is very cleverly done, and you don’t see the twist coming at all. If you paid attention to the spoiler alert, and aren’t reading this paragraph, then I highly recommend this one as well as the other.