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12 Angry Men
Year:
1957
Country:
USA
Genre:
Crime, Drama, Mystery
IMDB rating:
8.9
Director:
Sidney Lumet
Martin Balsam as Juror #12
John Fiedler as Juror #12
Lee J. Cobb as Juror #12
E.G. Marshall as Juror #12
Jack Klugman as Juror #12
Edward Binns as Juror #12
Jack Warden as Juror #12
Henry Fonda as Juror #12
Joseph Sweeney as Juror #12
Ed Begley as Juror #12
George Voskovec as Juror #12
Robert Webber as Juror #12
Storyline: The defense and the prosecution have rested and the jury is filing into the jury room to decide if a young man is guilty or innocent of murdering his father. What begins as an open-and-shut case of murder soon becomes a detective story that presents a succession of clues creating doubt, and a mini-drama of each of the jurors' prejudices and preconceptions about the trial, the accused, and each other. Based on the play, all of the action takes place on the stage of the jury room.
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Reviews
A Contrarian View
I've always have had problems with this movie. Seeing it listed so highly made me re-watch it and give it another assessment. It has never struck me as a "movie". It's a closed set drama of twelve men talking in a closed room. That presents a pretty high bar to get over to turn it into a movie. Unfortunately it doesn't even seem to try to get over it.

This movie is a turd sitting there. A highly polished sincere turd, but a turd nonetheless.

First the setup. A young man is on trial for murdering his father, stabbing him with a switchblade, apparently as a result of an argument. From statements in the movie, it seems that he is a member of a despised, slum-dwelling minority. The boy is shown to be dark but 'white'. The actor who plays the juror that is his compatriot is Jack Klugman, of Russian Jewish heritage. Was an audience meant to take seriously, even in the '50s that assimilated Jews were on such a low social rung? Were they meant to be some other swarthy European? Italian, Greek, perhaps? To me the only folks likely to be identified that way in '50s NY would be blacks or Puerto Ricans. I know that Hollywood at the time had a real problem casting actors of color, but this whitewashing takes me out of any willing suspension of disbelief.

Then the jurors themselves. They almost all seem one dimensional tropes. Let's go in order:

1) The foreman, a High School Football coach. Just trying to keep the process rolling, without a high degree of insight into the issues.

2) The mousy accountant. Not assertive or expecting to be listened to if he did assert himself.

3) Likely the most interesting, a self-made business man, who has issues with a man needing to be 'manly'; assertive to the point of bullying. He has a failed relationship with his own son that is the key to his behavior on the jury.

4) A stockbroker. A bland technocrat who never sweats. He seems almost the post-war Nazi stereotype of 'only following orders'.

5) The representative of the under-class. So scared of appearing to favor 'one of his own kind', that he compensates by going with the prevailing social order.

6) The common man. At Passover he'd be the son that 'knows not how to ask'.

7) The salesman. Approaches this as a sales pitch, and wants to get it over with to be able to get to tonight's Yankees game.

8) Our beloved identification figure. Wants to avoid the rush to judgment. An architect he (possibly along with his antithesis the stockbroker) is the best educated and well spoken of the bunch. Literally 'the man in the white suit'. Congratulations to you Mr. audience member for smugly identifying with him.

9) The old man. Given to pearls of insight that derive from his experience and wisdom.

10) The racist. Even if the kid isn't guilty, his kind are troublemakers and deserve what they get.

11) The good immigrant. A watchmaker, quiet, polite, well spoken.

12) The ad man. Got to have one of these in any '50s NY set story. Send his gray flannel suit up the flag pole and see if anyone salutes it.

Are any of these, with the possible exception of #3, real human beings?

The argument. The bulk of this exercise is the destruction, point by point of the prosecution's case. A highlight is when #8 presents the jury with a duplicate of the supposedly unique murder weapon, a similar one which was purchased by the by the young man. I'm not a student of the law, but I can't believe that such a introduction of such evidence into jury deliberations is acceptable procedure. Also, although the prosecution's case is sufficiently demolished to introduce the reasonable doubt necessary for an acquittal, never is a plausible alternate scenario is never offered. Why did some intruder enter the murdered man's apartment and kill him? Robbery? Never suggested. Another gang-banger looking for the son? Why was the man stabbed in a non-experienced way? Why is the murder weapon clean of fingerprints?

So, well acted, competently shot, but to my mind a failed drama, and still a non-movie.

Finally, with over 900 member reviews I expect that this will be buried. And, why do we need a spoiler tag on a nearly sixty year old movie?
2016-10-17
A near perfect film
12 Angry Men may just be a perfect movie and if it isn't, then it's pretty damn close. I can't think of another film that was simply people in a room arguing for an hour and a half that captured my attention as much as this one did. If you can write a script that keeps people entertained by simply listening to what you wrote then you deserve limitless praise. Watching these men slowly examine every detail of the case they're given and watching them internally and externally debate whether or not the accused kid is guilty is some of the most riveting pieces of cinema that has ever been filmed. This very well could be in my top 10 favorite movies list and I cannot praise it enough. This film needs to be a required viewing for all film fans.
2014-12-23
Greatest movie ever made
Deceptively complex courtroom drama enthrals for the duration as one man opposes eleven others in a battle of argument, reason, and logic.

Starring Henry Fonda as Juror #8, 12 Angry Men is a very claustrophobic drama which conveys the deliberation room of a trial where the defendant is accused of first-degree murder. On the surface the case seems open and shut, with 11 of the 12 jurors entirely convinced by the prosecution's case. Only one dissenter remains, and that is Henry Fonda's Juror #8. Specifically he is not certain that the boy is definitely innocent, just that he doesn't know, and that for him is enough to qualify as reasonable doubt.

12 Angry Men certainly is a moralistic tale, of the right to a fair trial and trying to give someone every chance, but it has many more strings to its bow than just this. Indeed, above all else it prides itself in endeavouring to portray a true sense of reasoned and rational argument which tries to overcome steadfast beliefs as possessed by the seemingly unshakable. Initially it may seem that Fonda's Juror is simply playing devil's advocate, but it becomes clear that it is more about standing up for what you believe despite what the facts seem to tell you. The more you scrutinise so-called unshakable evidence, the more you find holes in it, and the more that logical analysis seems to provide the real answers.

Obviously, Juror #8 has to persuade those others who seem to have their own agenda, and pre-conceived notions of what truth equals, but nevertheless it is absolutely fascinating seeing how simply he probes the case and reveals the flaws.

The whole movie's pace is absolutely perfect, and given its almost exclusive setting of inside the deliberation room it is a testament to the genius of the script and the brilliance of the acting that the duration of the film seems so short. The cinematography is also surprisingly excellent given the lack of scope necessary, with sharp imagery and clever camera-work which gives the whole picture a real amount of life.

To detail the jurors themselves; Juror #1 reluctantly appoints himself foreman. He appears to lack esteem, and the chance to boss the table by being the 'leader' perversely appeals greatly to him as he lacks significant contribution to make about the case. He does not want to be useless, so is forced to take charge.

Juror #2 is a slight man who is clearly used to being wrapped in his own cocoon, never deviating, so when he ends up as a juror in a murder trial, he is actually thrilled at his fish out of water status. He does not really have much to say about the case, taking it at face value.

Juror #3 is the enduring Messenger Service owner. May have an ulterior motive for being so steadfastly sure the accused is guilty, given his first scene depicts ambivalence over the courtroom procedure given to him it is 'open and shut'. As time goes on, and evidence starts to suggest more than meets the eye, he begins to show emotional stress as his hardwired opinion looks flimsier. But he refuses to cave.

Juror #4 has more emotional attachment to the trial than most, as he shares the same kind of background to the defendant and takes criticism of 'that kind of person' extremely personally. Experiences inner conflict between head and heart.

Juror #5 is a cold and methodical thinker who has an elevated opinion of himself. Emerges more as the deliberations wear on, he is convinced by the evidence that the boy is guilty, and systematically sets about conveying this to the others.

Juror #6 is the common working man with very little input, and whose two significant moments are to defend another juror who is being harassed, and to suggest another juror is badly wrong about his opinion.

Juror #7 is more interested in the ball game at 8pm than the case. Doesn't want to be there, and while he details a little about the boy's background to start off with, his regular sarcastic quips throughout the story suggest he is simply desperate to be out of there as quickly as possible, with no care about the wheels of justice.

Juror #8 is the only juror who does not immediately join the others with their guilty verdict. He has a lot of thought about the case eating at him, and wishes to explore it. He meets much opposition.

Juror #9 is a wise, wiley old man who is sharper than anyone else and observed events in the courtroom closer than the others. Makes some smart observations which unearth vital truths.

Juror #10 is an old school racist whose opinion is based on prejudice and not facts. A vile and odious creature, he has no interest in 'people like that' roaming the streets, and is offended at having to live in the same city as them.

Juror #11 is an intelligent and interested spectator who listens to the facts and analyses them before reaching a conclusion. His European accent draws derision from some others, as does his general nationality, but he rises above it and provides some sensible comments, rarely saying anything which lacks thought.

Juror #12 is a good-natured man but not a terribly strong thinker. He does not have much of an independent opinion on the case, often following others, and is often more interested in playing naughts and crosses or boring fellow jurors about his job.

Overall, 12 Angry Men is simply as good as cinema can get. Incredible script, amazing performances, and captivating direction.

Highly recommended.
2007-05-28
A young defendant is charged for the murder of his father, and we follow 12 jury members, jammed in a small New York City jury room, which shall decide the defendants fate.
Courtroom drama at it's finest

12 Angry Men has the form of a courtroom drama, and keeps the viewer locked inside a claustrophobic room with the jury members. As the jurors debates the case, we get the feeling that we know just as much as they do themselves. This film captivates the tension in the room by subtle body language and contradicting personality traits.

When we first see the 12 jury member enter the room and gather around the little room Juror No. 3 says: "It's an open and shut case". When the first poll results come on, 11 to 1 agrees that the boy is guilty. The rest is movie history and storytelling at it's finest.

One of the many factors that makes this movie work so great is the role gallery, which includes magnificent actors such as; Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam.. etc. The chemistry between these actors are exquisite, it's like they where meant to be cast in the same movie.

But don't misunderstand me, it's the script that bonds, splits and alienate the cast, therefor, the script should have the most praise for the great chemistry it creates in and between the actors. The Screenplay is for me the most important factor when it comes to the pre-production of a movie, and 12 Angry does it brilliantly. With sharp dialogue and twists and turns which will have you pasted to the screen.

12 Angry Men is a moving film about justice, and should be seen by every movielover.
2016-12-25
A top-notch cast under superb direction by Sidney Lumet makes this movie excellent in every aspect
A dissenting juror (Henry Fonda) in a murder trial slowly manages to convince the others (Jack Klugman , Martin Balsam , Jack Warden , Lee. J. Cobb , Ed Begley , E.G. Marshall , Robert Webber , among others) that the case is not as obviously clear as it seemed in court. As Juror #8 holds out with a verdict of not guilty, thus setting the stage for arguments and reasons why or why not the boy may be guilty . As he desperately seeks to convince his eleven peers to reconsider their hast conviction of a boy framed of murdering . As 12 jurors are struggling to decide the fate of a teenager who allegedly killed his father .

Made for television classic about twelve jurors quick to condemn a youth on trial for murdering his father before reviewing the evidence. Though the whole movie is set in a jury room it never lacks for taut , suspense , intrigue and inspired direction . The struggle behind closed doors is tense , charged and riveting . Reginald Rose's brilliant TV play script was left virtually intact in its move to feature film. This famous play from the 'Golden Age of Television' was splendidly directed by Sidney Lumet with an extraordinary plethora of actors who give magnificent performances .Because the painstaking rehearsals for the film lasted an exhausting two weeks, filming had to be completed in an unprecedented 21 days and shot in a total of 365 separate takes. However, nowadays none of the twelve stars are still alive . The acting level of the cast during some of the intense discussions and debates almost bursts in the screen . The movie is commonly used in business schools and workshops to illustrate team dynamics and conflict resolution techniques. Nominated for 3 Oscars , another 16 wins & 6 nominations ; the film lost out in all its categories to The Bridge on the River Kwai . It ranked #2 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Courtroom Drama".

This Lumet's impressive debut was followed by a remake made for cable TV (1997) , a contemporized rendition of the memorable tale whose script has been slightly updated but the premise is the same , it was directed by William Friedkin with a formidable cast such as William L. Petersen, Edward James Olmos, Hume Cronyn, James Gandolfini, Dorian Harewood, Ossie Davis, and Courtney B. Vance , George C. Scott , Armin Mueller-Stahl , Tony Danza and Jack Lemmon takes on the voice of dissent , the Fonda role . Furthermore , a Russian version (2007) by Nikita Mikhalkov with Sergey Garmash , Valentin Gaft , Aleksey Petrenko , Yuriy Stoyanov , Efremov , among others .
2014-01-04
Unsurpassed Character Study & Very Good Drama
The unsurpassed character studies of the "12 Angry Men" would almost make a movie worth seeing even if it had little else to offer. This is also a very good drama that uses everything it has to good advantage. The cast and director Sidney Lumet all do a fine job of sketching each character efficiently and memorably. Every character is important, and almost every line serves a purpose.

One interesting thing about the story is that the trial per se is almost not even particularly important. The jury setting is really just a stylized way of high-lighting many aspects of human nature and human interaction, and in particular, the varied ways that different persons respond in situations where their options are limited. The characters have a wide and well-chosen diversity of personalities and opinions, and each one's temperament and attitudes are developed as things proceed.

In performing this kind of material, it's important for the actors not to overdo it, or else the believability suffers. It's also a challenge to keep things interesting when the settings and props are so limited. But everything works very well here, and it is a credit to everyone involved.
2004-09-27
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win
12 Angry man, you will be the 13th, Yes I am true. One man stands against the rest and argues that the boy may not be guilty.

Henry Fonda plays one of juror who does not feel the boy was guilty with the evidence provided. The movie revolves around the scenario of his reasonable doubts with the evidences and that makes other jurors to get convinced. At first the other men were demanding, impatient and rude. But Henry stands still with his doubts and put them on to the other jurors.

12 Angry Man is one of the greatest films ever made. It will grab your attention from the start and make you sit down and think long after you finish watching.

My rating 10/10. Will appear in my Top 100.

Strongly recommended.
2014-12-06
The Lonely Juror
One does not expect an ordinary black and white movie like "Twelve Angry Men" to set the foundation for great drama. Nevertheless, superior drama is what is delivered in this film. The setting is; a common courtroom in an eastern metropolitan city where twelve ordinary men have been selected to sit as a jury. The trial is over and the verbal testimony having been heard, the jury must now decide the fate of the young man on trial for his life. A common enough occurrence in America. But what is not common, is the mixed assortment of characters assembled for the jury. The real drama unfolds when a single juror (Henry Fonda) takes his task seriously and challenges each of his fellow members to think and then decide before they vote for the death penalty. When he does, the volatile reaction is nothing short of inspirational. One can only wish the same would happen to anyone facing a similar ordeal. The cast of characters is a vintage performance from all. Henry Fonda's performance is wonderful and courageous. He is joined by veterans actors, Martin Balsam, John Fiedler, Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman, Ed Binns, Jack Warden, Joseph Sweeney, Ed Begley, George Voskovec and Robert Webber. The honor of Classic fits this film like a velvet glove. *****
2007-05-23
12 Angry Men: A Classic Work of Genius
12 Angry Men is a 1957 American drama film with elements of film noir, adapted from a teleplay of the same name by Reginald Rose. Written and co-produced by Rose himself and directed by Sidney Lumet, this trial film tells the story of a jury made up of 12 men as they deliberate the guilt or acquittal of a defendant on the basis of reasonable doubt. In the United States, a verdict in most criminal trials by jury must be unanimous. The film is notable for its almost exclusive use of one set: with the exception of the film's opening, which begins outside on the steps of the courthouse followed by the judge's final instructions to the jury before retiring, two short scenes in an adjoining washroom, and a brief final scene on the courthouse steps, the entire film takes place in the jury room. The total time spent outside the jury room is three minutes out of the full 96 minutes of the film.

12 Angry Men explores many techniques of consensus-building, and the difficulties encountered in the process, among a group of men whose range of personalities adds intensity and conflict. No names are used in the film: the jury members are identified by number until two of them exchange names at the very end, the defendant is referred to as "the boy", and the witnesses as "the old man" and "the lady across the street".

In 2007, 12 Angry Men was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and is often seen as one of the greatest films ever made.
2016-05-15
What a Character-Study Is Meant to Be.
Intense courtroom drama which has 12 very different people, all males, struggling with a murder case involving a young Puerto Rican boy that seems cut-and-dried. However, juror Henry Fonda does not believe it to be as sure-fire as it appears. He votes not guilty and what follows is a chain of events that will test the views, beliefs and thoughts of the other 11 members. Fonda is great, but Lee J. Cobb steals every scene (and that is not easy to do in a film like this). Ed Begley, Martin Balsam, Jack Warden, Jack Klugman, Joseph Sweeney, E.G. Marshall and John Fiedler are among the other individuals caught in a situation that is much more difficult than it appears on the surface. An excellent character-study that should be studied and embraced by all present and future film-makers. 5 stars out of 5.
2002-06-08
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