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12 Angry Men is a 1957 American drama film adapted from a teleplay of the same name by Reginald Rose. Directed by Sidney Lumet, the film tells the story of a jury made up of 12 men as they deliberate the guilt or innocence of a defendant on the basis of reasonable doubt. The film is notable for its almost exclusive use of one set: with the exception of two short scenes at the beginning and the end of the film set on the steps of the court building and two short scenes in an adjoining washroom, the entire movie takes place in the jury room. The total time spent outside of the jury room is eight minutes, out of the full 96 minutes of the movie.

Apart from two of the jurors swapping names while leaving the courthouse, no names are used in the film: 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 Congressmarker as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".


The story begins after closing arguments have been presented in a murder case, as the judge is giving his instructions to the jury. According to American law in most states (both then and now), the verdict (whether guilty or not guilty) must be unanimous. A non-unanimous verdict results in a hung jury, which in turn forces a retrial. The question they are deciding is whether the defendant, a young teenage boy from a city slum, murdered his father. The jury is further instructed that a guilty verdict will be accompanied by a mandatory death sentence—the electric chair. The jury of twelve move to the jury room, where they begin to become acquainted with each other's personalities and discuss the case.

The plot of the film revolves around their difficulty in reaching a unanimous verdict, mainly due to several of the jurors' personal prejudices. An initial vote is taken and eleven of the jurors vote "guilty". Juror 8 is the lone dissenter, stating that the evidence presented is circumstantial and the boy deserves a fair deliberation, upon which he starts questioning the accuracy and reliability of the only two witnesses to the murder, the fact that the knife used in the murder is not as unusual as testimony promotes (he produces an identical one from his pocket), and the overall shady circumstances. Having argued several points, and producing a knife identical to the murder weapon, Juror 8 requests another vote. He proposed that he would abstain from voting, and if the other eleven jurors voted guilty unanimously, then he would acquiesce to their decision. However, if at least one juror voted "not guilty" then they would continue deliberating. In a secret ballot, Juror 9 is the first to support Juror 8, and not necessarily believing the accused is not guilty, but feeling that Juror 8's points deserve further discussion. After listening to the complaints of Jurors 7 and 10, Jurors 5 and 11 change their votes. After Jurors 2 and 6 also decide on "not guilty", 7 becomes tired and also votes "not guilty" just so that the deliberation may end and he can get to a ball game, which earns him nothing but shame. When pressed by Juror 11, however, 7 says that he believes the defendant is not guilty. Juror 12 changes his mind after voting "not guilty", but switches back after Juror #4 points out that the woman who saw the killing is the one piece of evidence there might not be a loophole in; the foreman, #1, also votes "not guilty". Juror 10 loses all favor or respect after indulging in a bigoted rant, after which he is told to "sit down and don't open [his] mouth again" by Juror 4, who soon becomes convinced by Juror 9 that the witness' testimony may be inaccurate because she may not have been wearing her glasses at the time of the alleged murder.

Last of all to agree is the adamant Juror 3, who, after a long confrontation with Juror 8, breaks down after glancing at and furiously tearing up a picture of him and his son. It is revealed that Juror 3 has not seen his son in two years, and his rage may be the result of a falling out with the boy. When his son was young, the father tried to teach the son to "be a man" after seeing him lose a fight. The son ended up punching his father in the mouth. The final vote is unanimous for acquittal. All jurors leave and the defendant is found not-guilty off-screen, while juror number 8 helps the angry juror number 3 with his coat in a show of compassion. In an epilogue, the friendly Jurors 8 (Davis) and 9 (McArdle) exchange surnames (all jurors having remained nameless throughout the movie) and the movie ends.


Reginald Rose's screenplay for 12 Angry Men was initially produced for television, and was broadcast on the CBS program Studio One in 1954. A complete kinescope of that performance, which had been missing for years and was feared lost, was discovered in 2003. It was filmed at Chelsea Studios in New York Citymarker.

The success of the TV film resulted in a film adaptation. Sidney Lumet, whose prior directorial credits included dramas for television productions such as the Alcoa Hour and Studio One, was recruited by Henry Fonda and Rose to direct. 12 Angry Men was Lumet's first feature film, and for Fonda and Rose, who co-produced the film, it was their first and only roles as film producers. Fonda later stated that he would never again produce a film.

The filming was completed after a short but rigorous rehearsal schedule in less than three weeks on a budget of about $350,000.

At the beginning of the film, the cameras are positioned above eye level and mounted with wide-angle lenses to give the appearance of greater depth between subjects, but as the film progresses the focal length of the lenses is gradually increased. By the end of the film, nearly everyone is shown in closeup using telephoto lenses from a lower angle, which decreases or "shortens" depth of field. Lumet, who began his career as a director of photography, stated that his intention in using these techniques with cinematographer Boris Kaufman was to create a nearly palpable claustrophobia.


Critical responses

On its first release, 12 Angry Men received critical acclaim. A. H. Weiler of The New York Times wrote "It makes for taut, absorbing, and compelling drama that reaches far beyond the close confines of its jury room setting." His observation of the 12 men was that "their dramas are powerful and provocative enough to keep a viewer spellbound." However, it was not a popular success: the advent of color and widescreen productions resulted in a disappointing box office performance.

Despite this, the film is today viewed as a classic, highly regarded from both a critical and popular viewpoint: Roger Ebert lists it as one of his "Great Movies". The American Film Institute named Juror #8, played by Henry Fonda, 28th in a list of the 50 greatest movie heroes of the 20th century, and Fonda himself as 6th of the 25 greatest American screen legends among males. AFI also named 12 Angry Men the 42nd most inspiring film, the 88th most heart-pounding film and the 87th best film of the past hundred years. In June 2008, it revealed AFI's 10 Top 10—the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. 12 Angry Men was acknowledged as the second best film in the courtroom drama genre. As of August 2009, critics from Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie a 100% approval rating.


The film was nominated for Academy Awards in the categories of Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Writing of Adapted Screenplay. It lost to the movie The Bridge on the River Kwaimarker in all three categories. At the Berlin International Film Festival, the film won the Golden Bear Award.


Film and TV

Indianmarker director Basu Chatterjee remade the film as Ek Ruka Hua Faisla in 1986.

12 Angry Men was remade for television in 1997. Directed by William Friedkin, the remake stars George C. Scott, James Gandolfini, Tony Danza, William Petersen, Ossie Davis, Hume Cronyn, Courtney B. Vance, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Mykelti Williamson, Edward James Olmos, Dorian Harewood, and Jack Lemmon. In this production, the judge is a woman and four of the jurors are African American (in interviews, producers said they decided against putting a woman in the jury because they didn't want to change the title). Still, most of the action and dialogue of the film is identical to the original. Modernizations include a prohibition on smoking in the jury room, the changing of references to income and pop culture figures, more dialogue relating to race, and occasional profanity.

In 2007, Russianmarker film director Nikita Mikhalkov completed his remake of the movie. The jury of 64th Venice Film Festival assigned its special prize to this remake to acknowledge the consistent brilliance of Nikita Mikhalkov’s body of work.'


Rose wrote several stage adaptations of the story. In 1964, Leo Genn appeared in the play on the London stage. In other theatrical adaptations in which female actors are cast, the play is retitled 12 Angry Jurors or 12 Angry Women.

In 2004, the Roundabout Theatre Company presented a Broadwaymarker production of the play, starring Boyd Gaines as a more combative Juror No. 8, with James Rebhorn (No. 4), Philip Bosco (No. 3), and Robert Prosky as the voice of the judge. In 2007, 12 Angry Men ran on a national theater tour with Richard Thomas and George Wendt starring as Jurors No. 8 and No. 1, respectively. The 2008 tour does not include Wendt but features another popular TV personality, Kevin Dobson of Kojak and Knots Landing, as Juror No. 10.


Juror # Character 1954 actor 1957 actor 1997 actor 2004-2005 Actor 2006-7 Actor Order that juror votes 'not guilty'
1 The jury foreman, somewhat preoccupied with his duties; proves to be accommodating to others. An Assistant High-School Football coach Norman Fell Martin Balsam Courtney B. Vance Mark Blum George Wendt 9
2 A meek and unpretentious bank clerk John Beal John Fiedler Ossie Davis Kevin Greer Todd Cerveris 5
3 A businessman and an emotionally distraught father, opinionated and stubborn with a streak of sadism Franchot Tone Lee J. Cobb George C. Scott Philip Bosco (Replaced by Robert Foxworth) Randle Mell 12
4 A rational stock broker, unflappable and self-assured Walter Abel E. G. Marshall Armin Mueller-Stahl James Rebhorn Jeffrey Hayenga 11
5 A young man from a violent slum, a Baltimore Orioles fan Lee Phillips Jack Klugman Dorian Harewood Michael Mastro Jim Saltouros 3
6 A house painter, tough but principled and respectful Bart Burns Edward Binns James Gandolfini Robert Clohessy Charles Borland 6
7 A salesman, sports fan, superficial and indifferent to the deliberations Paul Hartman Jack Warden Tony Danza John Pankow Mark Morettini 7
8 An architect, the lone dissenter (in the beginning). Identified as "Davis" at end of film Robert Cummings Henry Fonda Jack Lemmon Boyd Gaines Richard Thomas 1
9 A wise and observant elderly man. Identified as "McArdle" at end of film Joseph Sweeney Joseph Sweeney Hume Cronyn Tom Aldredge Alan Mandell 2
10 A garage owner; a pushy loudmouthed bigot Edward Arnold Ed Begley Mykelti Williamson Peter Friedman Julian Gamble 10
11 An immigrant watchmaker, proud to be a naturalized American citizen George Voskovec George Voskovec Edward James Olmos Larry Bryggman (Replaced by Byron Jennings) David Lively 4
12 An excitable, indecisive advertising executive William West Robert Webber William Petersen Adam Trese Craig Wroe 8

See also


  1. New York: The Movie Lover's Guide: The Ultimate Insider Tour of Movie New York - Richard Alleman - Broadway (February 1, 2005) ISBN 0767916344
  2. [1]


  • Making Movies, by Sidney Lumet. (c) 1995, ISBN 0-679-75660-4
  • Phoebe C. Ellsworth. "Twelve Angry Men", Michigan Law Review, May 2003 v101 i6 p1387(21) (online at Infotrac), in depth analysis compared with research on actual jury behavior.
  • The New York Times, April 15, 1957, "12 Angry Men", review by A. H. Weiler
  • Readings on Twelve Angry Men, by Russ Munyan, Greenhaven Press, 2000, ISBN 0-7377-0313-X

External links

Chandler, David. “The Transmission model of communication” Communication as Perspective Theory. Sage publications. Ohio University, 2006.

Lanham, Richard. “Introduction: The Domain of Style analyzing prose”. (New York, NY: Continuum, 2003)

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