The defence and the prosecution have rested and the jury is filing into the jury room to decide if a young Spanish-American is guilty or innocent of murdering his father. What begins as an open and shut case of murder soon becomes 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.
Martin Balsam ... Juror #1
John Fiedler ... Juror #2
Lee J. Cobb ... Juror #3
E.G. Marshall ... Juror #4
Jack Klugman ... Juror #5
Ed Binns ... Juror #6 (as Edward Binns)
Jack Warden ... Juror #7
Henry Fonda ... Juror #8
Joseph Sweeney ... Juror #9
Ed Begley ... Juror #10
George Voskovec ... Juror #11
Robert Webber ... Juror #12
Director: Sidney Lumet
Nominated for 3 Oscars
Codecs: XVid / MP3
This film is superb, in fact as Shakespeare once said "Its the bees' knees". The film captivates the audience from the beginning. Each of the twelve jurors are introduced to us as they are introduced to themselves. The characters are well draw out and individual, each with his own personality.
The tension of the characters draws the audience in from the start. We imagine that the case is open and shut, 11 me saying guilty and 1 not. We feel the discomfort of Henry Fonda as the other characters belittle and mock how he can see any reasonable doubt in the case. But we also share his victories and the enthusiasm as he proceeds to refute or add doubt to the arguments for guilty and are captivated and draw in as other jurors begin to see doubt in the proceedings.
The audience can also see the arguments for guilty and wonder if Fonda's character is correct in saying that he doubts. Yet they also feel the shame of the characters as he disproves that a previously sound theory is iron tight, joining his side as members of the jury do.
On top of this they are wonderfully woven in human elements such as the misconceptions that influence people and the growing tension between different characters. This is brought to life even more by the amazing performances, Fonda, Lee J Cobb and Joseph Sweeney are of particular note.
I started watching this film on a bored relaxed laying about day but by the end i was on the edge of the seat with my hands on my knees feeling more tense than a politician on results day.
An excellent courtroom drama with a unique twist. Instead of following the trial itself, the viewer has a unique chance to observe the events behind the closed doors of a jury room. The film begins with the end of the trial. The jurors retire to deliberate the case. A preliminary vote is taken and the result is 11:1 in favour of the guilty verdict. Eleven jurors have raised their hands to convict a young man of killing his father. Only Juror #8 has doubts. At first even he does not truly believe the young man to be innocent but notes (rightfully) that the case for the defence might have been presented in a more convincing manner and that the boy might be given the benefit of a doubt. Since the boy is to be executed if found guilty his life is now in the hands of the jury and juror #8 reasons that the least they could do is talk about the case a bit. As time goes on some of the jurors change their minds and find that there is perhaps enough reasonable doubt not to convict the young man after all. But not everyone is easy to convince.
Although the plot of the film is excellent and it is fascinating to see what little things can influence which way a verdict goes, where this film really succeeds is in presenting the characters of the 12 jurors. The character of each of the jurors emerges through a wonderful mix of perfect casting, excellent dialogue and near-flawless acting.
Juror #1 - a simple man who clearly does not understand the full complexity of the task that lies before him but is trying to do everything not to let anyone else find this out. He appears at ease only once during the film - when he talks about football. He has the misfortune to be selected foreman of the jury - a task he clearly does not relish.
Juror #2 - a small, quite man, clearly unaccustomed to giving his own opinion much less to expecting his views to be of any importance. Apparently he finds solace in his job - he is an accountant.
Juror #3 - probably the most complex personality in the film. Starts off like a pleasant self-made successful businessman, he analyses the case impartially, explains his arguments well and is reasonably self assured. As time goes on he becomes more and more passionate and seems to be somehow personally involved with the case. He also starts to show some signs of slight mental instability. Wonderfully played by Lee J. Cobb - this is the character you remember after the film is over.
Juror #4 - self assured, slightly arrogant stockbroker. Obviously considers himself more intelligent than anyone else in the room, he approaches the case with cool heartless logic but (as one of the jurors says - "this is not an exact science") he does not take into account the feelings, the passions, the characters of the people involved in the case. He is conspicuous by the fact that he is the only juror that does not take his jacket off (it is a very hot day).
Juror #5 - here is a man under great emotional stress. He comes from the same social background as the accused boy - with who he almost unwillingly seems to identify with. Paradoxically this appears one of the main reasons for him voting guilty - he does not want compassion to influence him - so ironically it does.
Juror #6 - a simple man, quite readily admitting that everyone in the room is better qualified than he is to make decisions and offer explanations. But he really wants to see justice done and it worries him that he might make a mistake.
Juror #7 - the only one that really has no opinion on this case. Literally throughout the film his thoughts are never on the case - he talks of baseball, of the heat, of fixing the fan but the only reason he has for voting this way or that is to speed things up a bit so he might be out of the jury room as soon as possible. Not an evil man he just has no sense of morality whatsoever - he can tell right from wrong but does not seem to think it's worth the bother.
Juror #8- a caring man, has put more thought into the case than any of the other jurors. He tries to do his best even in the face of seemingly impossible odds.
Juror #9 - a wise old man with his great life experience has quite a unique way of looking at the case.
Juror #10 - the most horrifying character in the film. Votes guilty and does not even try to hide the fact that he does so only because of the boy's social background. The tragedy comes from the fact that his own social position is only a cut above the boy's - which makes him all the more eager to accentuate the difference.
Juror #11 - an immigrant watchmaker, careful methodical man, well mannered and soft spoken. respects the right of people to have different opinion to his - and is willing to look at both sides of the problem. Loses his temper only once - horrified by the complete indifference of juror #7.
Juror #12 - a young business type - perhaps he has his own opinions - but is careful to hide them. What he has learnt out of life seems to be that intelligence is equal with agreeing with what the majority of people think.
The film succeeds in doing something very rare today - developing an intelligent plot while also developing 12 believable, memorable and distinct characters.
* When first broadcast as a teleplay on TV's "Studio One" on 20 September 1954, the jurors were Norman Fell, John Beal, 'Franchot Tone' , Walter Abel, Lee Philips, Bart Burns, Paul Hartman, Robert Cummings, Joseph Sweeney, Edward Arnold, George Voskovec, Will West. Joseph Sweeney and George Voskovec were the only two actors to reprise their roles for the film.
* As shooting of the film went on, director Sidney Lumet gradually changed to lenses of longer focal lengths, so that the backgrounds seemed to close in on the characters, creating a greater feeling of claustrophobia.
* For many years, only the first half of the kinescope of the live 1954 TV version of "12 Angry Men" upon which this movie version is based (shown in the series "Studio One" (1948)) was thought to survive, and had been in the possession of the Museum of Television and Radio since 1976. In 2003 a complete 16mm kinescope was discovered in the collection of Samuel Liebowitz (former defense attorney and judge) and was also acquired by the museum.
* Because the painstaking rehearsals for the film lasted an exhausting two weeks, filming had to be completed in an unprecedented 21 days.
* There is not a single woman in the cast and only one (Faith Hubley, billed as Faith Elliott) in the credited crew.
* Henry Fonda was asked by United Artists to make this film, so he did it as both actor and producer. He was, however, very frustrated at being producer and decided never to do so again.
* Most of the hard-working (relatively inexperienced) crew were longshoremen. Because there wasn't enough movie work to feed them all year, they'd have two union cards: their Local 52 cards and their ILA cards.
* Henry Fonda disliked watching himself on film, so he did not watch the whole film in the projection room. But before he walked out he said quietly to director Sidney Lumet, "Sidney, it's magnificent."
* In the jury room, the characters are identified by their numbers as they are seated around the table. Only two have their surnames revealed. In an epilogue, Henry Fonda (Juror #8) and Joseph Sweeney (Juror #9) meet briefly on the courthouse steps. Fonda introduces himself as "Davis", Sweeney as "McCardle".
* All but three minutes of the film was shot inside the bare and confining, sixteen by twenty-four foot "jury room".
* Only two jurors are ever identified by name: #8 Mr. Davis and #9 Mr. McCardle. And all but two are identified by job or profession: #1 High School Football Coach, #2 Bank Teller, #3 Owns Messenger Service, #4 Stock Broker, #6 Painter, #7 Salesman, #8 Architect, #10 Garage Owner, #11 Watch Maker, and #12 Advertising Exec.
* With the death of Jack Warden (Juror #7) on July 19, 2006, Jack Klugman (Juror #5) is the only one of the twelve stars of 12 Angry Men (1957) who is still alive.
* Debut of John Fiedler.
* After Juror #10's prejudicial rant about the poor and everybody turns their backs on him, Juror #4 tells him to "sit down and don't open [his] mouth again." Juror #10 thus doesn't say anything for the rest of the film (when prompted for his final vote he shakes his head "not guilty," and doesn't verbalize anything).
* The melody juror #7 whistles before juror #8's reenactment of the handicapped man walking to the door is "Dance of the cuckoos", which is also the theme song for the "Laurel & Hardy" series.
* In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #87 Greatest Movie of All Time. This was the first inclusion of this film on the list.
* Lee J. Cobb's character insults Juror #12 by calling him "The Boy in the Gray Flannel Suit." One year before the release of "12 Angry Men," Cobb starred in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956).