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12 Angry Men (Criterion) (1957)

Cast: Henry Fonda, Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, more...
Director: Sidney Lumet, Sidney Lumet
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Criterion
Genre: Classics, Drama, Courtroom, Politics and Social Issues, Classic Drama, Courtroom, Classic Drama, Courtroom, Criterion Collection
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: Spanish, French
    see additional details...

12 Angry Men (Criterion) (1957)
A Puerto Rican youth is on trial for murder, accused of knifing his father to death. The twelve jurors retire to the jury room, having been admonished that the defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Eleven of the jurors vote for conviction, each for reasons of his own. The sole holdout is Juror #8, played by Henry Fonda. As Fonda persuades the weary jurors to re-examine the evidence, we learn the backstory of each man. Juror #3 (Lee J. Cobb), a bullying self-made man, has estranged himself from his own son. Juror #7 (Jack Warden) has an ingrained mistrust of foreigners; so, to a lesser extent, does Juror #6 (Edward Binns). Jurors #10 (Ed Begley) and #11 (George Voskovec), so certain of the infallibility of the Law, assume that if the boy was arrested, he must be guilty. Juror #4 (E.G. Marshall) is an advocate of dispassionate deductive reasoning. Juror #5 (Jack Klugman), like the defendant a product of "the streets," hopes that his guilty vote will distance himself from his past. Juror #12 (Robert Webber), an advertising man, doesn't understand anything that he can't package and market. And Jurors #1 (Martin Balsam), #2 (John Fiedler) and #9 (Joseph Sweeney), anxious not to make waves, "go with the flow." The excruciatingly hot day drags into an even hotter night; still, Fonda chips away at the guilty verdict, insisting that his fellow jurors bear in mind those words "reasonable doubt." A pet project of Henry Fonda's, Twelve Angry Men was his only foray into film production; the actor's partner in this venture was Reginald Rose, who wrote the 1954 television play on which the film was based. Carried over from the TV version was director Sidney Lumet, here making his feature-film debut. A flop when it first came out (surprisingly, since it cost almost nothing to make), Twelve Angry Men holds up beautifully when seen today. It was remade for television in 1997 by director William Friedkin with Jack Lemmon and George C. Scott. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

12 Angry Men (Criterion) (Bonus Disc) (1957)

  • Frank Schaffner's 1955 television version, with an introduction by Ron Simon, curator at the Paley Center for Media
  • Production history of 12 Angry Men, from teleplay to big-screen classic
  • Archival interviews with director Sidney Lumet
  • New interview with screenwriter Walter Bernstein about Lumet
  • New interview with Simon about writer Reginald Rose
  • New interview with cinematographer John Bailey in which he discusses cinematographer Boris Kaufman
  • Tragedy in a Temporary Town (1956), a teleplay directed by Lumet and written by Rose
  • New interview with cinematographer John Bailey about director of photography Boris Kaufman
  • Original theatrical trailer

GreenCine Member Ratings

12 Angry Men (Criterion) (1957)
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8.28 (307 votes)
12 Angry Men (Criterion) (Bonus Disc) (1957)
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8.50 (2 votes)

GreenCine Member Reviews

Henry Fonda Looks Good Because the Defendant Had a Bad Lawyer by JJones9 July 20, 2012 - 12:03 PM PDT
It's a good movie, don't get me wrong. But please understand that the Henry Fonda character makes all the points the defendant's lawyer did not. If the defendant's lawyer had given a half decent summation at the end of the trial, that jury would have voted at least 6-6 for acquittal, and probably 8-4 for acquittal. Also, please note that Fonda's bringing a new knife into the jury room was juror misconduct; if he had gone out to purchase such a knife, and then reported that he could not find one, any guilty verdict would have been tossed out, probably by the trial judge. So, enjoy the movie, but remember, Fonda looks good because someone else did a really bad job.

A Primer of the American Justice system at its best by johnnyclock December 24, 2005 - 1:09 AM PST
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful
This is a marvelous script with some of the finest character actors in the business. It is amazing how gripping a film can be with such an uncinematic premise: twelve men sitting in a very plain room; a jury room. I would like to believe that Americans are as civic minded today as, in their different ways, most of these twelve prove to be. This is a primer course for the best that ever existed in the American justice system; the outcome of centuries of incremental rethinkings and gains in justice, democracy, responsible citizenship. Whether it still exists today, I do not know.

Social Commentary, Far Ahead of Its' Time by JMVerville October 20, 2004 - 6:43 AM PDT
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful
12 Angry Men is a terrific film that reflects a lot of the past problems and the proposed solutions of immigration, youth violence, and of course, overcoming one's own background and discrimination. The film surprised me in how progressive it was, and the ending social conclusions that it reached.

In the film you can see clearly form a rift between the upper class, conservatives who are unwilling to change and the progressives who are proposing change for the better of all of us; this film, deep down, is a very class conscious and socially conscious film about discrimination and the deep lines it had in American society in 1957.

Although the film's portrayal is sometimes overly simplistic, drawing a "stubborn, pig-headed" conservative versus "righteous, just" progressive, one can find that this was very much so a necessary film for its' time. In many ways, it is a work that was socially far advanced.

Also what is interesting is the fact that it is a film that is done with great simplicity; some actors, and a room... It relies greatly upon the pure talent of the actors, and the great direction of Sidney Lumet -- this film is truly unique due to the true minimalism it embraces in its' production tactics, yet this is something that could easily go unnoticed due to the incredible quality of the film.

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