12 Angry Men (1957)

12 angry men poster 1957 movie
10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Compelling and remains relevant


Movie Info

Movie Name:  12 Angry Men

Studio:  Orion-Nova Productions

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  November 10, 1957

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

12 angry men jurors cast courtroom

Do your duty

In a courthouse, a jury of twelve men have been handed the case of a boy accused of murdering his father.  It appears like an open and shut case, but Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) has some questions about the case.  As everyone wants to get out of the jury room, more and more questions are raised about the murder.  Can the twelve men say the case has been proved without reasonable doubt?

Directed by Sidney Lumet, 12 Angry Men is a courtroom drama.  The film was based on the teleplay which aired on Studio One which aired live on September 20, 1954.  The film received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.  The film was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress for preservation in National Film Registry in 2007.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #591).

12 Angry Men is one of those movies you get assigned to watch in class for various reasons.  It is an example of a tight cast, limited sets, and an example of how the court system works.  12 Angry Men is one of the top examples of a thriller without anything actually happening.

12 angry men henry fonda knife

I’m pretty sure going out to investigate the crime on your own time isn’t in the “rules”

The movie is a thriller despite no action.  The jurors each bring their own experiences into the jury room and each is biased in some way.  The movie is a rush picking at these biases as they break down.  It is seen as a rebuke to McCarthyism which was running rampant at the time with lots of unproven accusations, but it is also a powerful example of how one man can make a difference.

The jurors remain all unnamed (except at the end when two names are revealed).  The cast is stellar with Martin Balsam (Juror #1), John Fiedler (Juror #2), Lee J. Cobb (Juror #3), E.G. Marshall (Juror #4), Jack Klugman (Juror #5), Edward Binns (Juror #6), Jack Warden (Juror #7), Henry Fonda (Juror #8…who gives the name of Davis), Joseph Sweeney (Juror #9…who gives the name McCardle), Ed Begley (Juror #10), George Voskovec (Juror #11), and Juror #12 (Robert Webber).  Everyone is at the top of their game.  While many were names when the film was made, it is noted how many went on to have even greater success.  It is notable to see how much things have changed.  The men are all white and as the title implies all men.  It was how juries were at the time of the film…diversity and sex weren’t part of the necessities of picking a jury in the 1950s…and it would have been interesting to see how it would shake out today.

12 angry men henry fonda lee j cobb knife

Now it is “11 Angry Men”

The movie is stylishly shot.  It is limited to two rooms and a post-verdict scene outside.  The characters are largely debating in one room with a big table and only go to the restroom once.  It is a challenging shooting location, and Lumet does it well by also adding in a lot of heavy shadows and lights especially near the end of the film as tensions are running high.

12 Angry Men is a classic that everyone should see.  The fact that it isn’t diverse is simply a reason…younger audiences will see the need for a jury pool that does represent them.  Did the kid do the murder?  We never will know…but as a juror, Juror #8 gives compelling evidence why we should question it.  Does he sway your vote?

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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