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12 Angry Men

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Overview

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 ...
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Overview

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.
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Special Features

New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack; Frank Schaffner's 1955 television version, with an introduction by Ron Simon, surator 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; 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
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
A splendidly realized film adaptation of a dramatic classic from television's Golden Age, 12 Angry Men is guaranteed to rivet the attention of even the most casual viewer, despite its claustrophobic one-room setting and lack of physical action. Reginald Rose's adaptation of his own teleplay opens on a hot summer day in a New York courthouse, where 12 jurors retire to a small, stifling room to deliberate the fate of a teenage boy accused of murdering his father. The first ballot finds quietly dignified Henry Fonda the lone holdout for acquittal. Blustery Lee J. Cobb leads the charge for conviction, and it remains for the other ten -- played by distinguished character actors Ed Begley, E. G. Marshall, Jack Klugman, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, John Fiedler, George Voskovec, Robert Webber, Edward Binns, and Joseph Sweeney -- to be swayed by the grimly determined Fonda. The feature-film directorial debut of Sidney Lumet Fail-Safe, 12 Angry Men derives its dramatic strength not only from his economic, incisive handling of a powerhouse cast, but also from Rose's sharply limned character studies. This 1957 film has been remade and reworked several times, but none of the subsequent versions has ever approached the original's perfection.
All Movie Guide - Dan Jardine
Twelve Angry Men is a tightly wound top of a movie. Each scene ratchets up the tension another notch as Henry Fonda's character tries desperately to open the minds of his fellow jurors. The setting -- a claustrophobic jury room in the dog days of summer -- superbly augments the suspense. Operating within the constraints of a small budget, first-time director Sidney Lumet tightens the noose by accentuating the throbbing pulse of the ceiling fan and slowly narrowing his shots on his characters as the film approaches its climax. Based on Reginald Rose's well-known play, which had been adapted to the television screen three years earlier, Twelve Angry Men boasts a series of excellent performances by young actors who would soon become household names, including Jack Klugman, Jack Warden, and Martin Balsam. However, it is the film's established stars -- Lee J. Cobb, E. G. Marshall and most importantly Fonda -- who play the leads, delivering the goods like seasoned pros. The film has instructional value as a study of the inherent strengths and weaknesses of the jury system, but its real value is how it allows each member of the cultural mosaic of a jury to develop into distinct, damaged, and interesting characters. In a well-crafted metaphor for the broader outline of society, the jury members must confront their prejudices in order to see that justice prevails. Nominated for three Oscars, Twelve Angry Men ran into the juggernaut of Bridge on the River Kwai and came up empty handed.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/22/2011
  • UPC: 715515089210
  • Original Release: 1957
  • Rating:

  • Source: Criterion
  • Region Code: A
  • Presentation: Wide Screen / Subtitled / B&W
  • Time: 1:36:00
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Sales rank: 141

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Henry Fonda Juror #8
Lee J. Cobb Juror #3
Ed Begley Sr. Juror #10
E.G. Marshall Juror #4
Jack Klugman Juror #5
Jack Warden Juror #7
Martin Balsam Juror #1
Edward Binns Juror #6
Joseph Sweeney Juror #9
George Voskovec Juror #11
Robert Webber Juror #12
John Fiedler Juror #2
Rudy Bond Judge
James A. Kelly Guard
Bill Nelson Court Clerk
John Savoca Defendant
Technical Credits
Sidney Lumet Director
Herman Buchman Makeup
Henry Fonda Producer
Kenyon Hopkins Score Composer
George Justin Associate Producer
Boris Kaufman Cinematographer
Carl Lerner Editor
Reginald Rose Original Story, Producer, Screenwriter
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 21 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(19)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    An American Classic.

    When asked which of his films he held in the kindest regard, Henry Fonda always mentioned "The Grapes of Wrath", "The Ox-Bow Incident" and "12 Angry Men", but it is possible "12 Angry Men" was at the top of his list because it was the one film on which he worked as a producer. Fonda admired Reginald Rose's television play and tried to get several studios interested in making it as a film but none thought it sufficiently commercial. He then formed a partnership with Rose and they raised the money to make it themselves. Rose had once served on a New York jury and his "12 Angry Men" is a dramatization of how disturbing an experience he found that to be. "12 Angry Men" is a fascinating but uncomfortably close examination of the workings of constitutional law and the fact that a person's life can be in the hands of 12 people who are themselves full of faults, failings and doubts. The film makes it graphically clear that the people who enforce law are all too human and that there are calm, decent people like Juror #8 (Fonda) who are willing to weigh the evidence and look for innocence rather than rush toward the verdict of guilt. The film won unanimous critical approval. Eleanor Roosevelt saw it and said she thought Fonda was magnificent, "but the whole cast is made up of excellent actors. As a character study, this is a fascinating movie, but more than that, it points to the fact which too many of us have not taken seriously, of what it means to serve on a jury when a man's life is at stake. In addition, it makes vivid what 'reasonable doubt' means when a murder trial jury makes up its mind on circumstantial evidence." "12 Angry Men" was the first film directed by then 32 year old Sidney Lumet ("Dog Day Afternoon", "Network", "The Verdict"), a stage director whom Fonda selected for this job. Despite not having worked with film before, Lumet keeps the action moving within the limited confines of the jury room. In this he had the help of the veteran cameraman Boris Kaufman. The most important factor in making the film was the selection of the jurors. They were all top grade actors, experienced with the stage as well as film, and their work here is an excellent example of ensemble acting. To get the effect he wanted Lumet rehearsed his cast for two weeks--the usual procedure with a play but not with film. He plotted every camera movement with Kaufman and he was thereby able to get an acting flow that gave life and excitement to what was essentially a claustrophobic set. The 95-minute running time of the film is also the time period of its action. It begins as a trial ends during a hot and humid summer afternoon in Manhattan's Court of General Sessions. Most of the action occurred on a single set, an actual jury room in a Manhattan courthouse, which involved huge problems of camera mobility and lighting. Such problems required that each close-up speech had to be filmed consecutively, for each actor, one at a time, no matter its final order in the movie--a lengthy process designed to test any film performer's skill. After long rehearsals, the actual filming was completed in twenty days. Despite the accolades, "12 Angry Men" did poorly at the box office when released in 1957. It was given conventional bookings instead of the specialized bookings such a film needs. Its European reception, however, was phenomenal, and it won several prizes there as well as in Australia and Japan. It brought Henry Fonda an Academy Award nomination as co-producer but not as an actor. Sidney Lumet and Reginald Rose were also nominated for Oscars. Filmed at a cost of $340,000, it never brought a profit to its producers. In fact, it never brought enough to pay Fonda his deferred salary. That fact never bothered him, although he vowed never to produce another film again, and didn't. Instead he took pride in the film's consta

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A Classic

    Just an absolute gripping drama, which I think stands the test of time. Despite the fact that nearly the entire movie is shot in one room, Henry Fonda gives a riveting performance as a man who stands by his convictions. A must-see, hands down.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A classic legal drama

    This is a classic. It is a must for anyone who enjoys a legal drama. Whether a law student or an efficianato of clasic drama, this is one for you.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    A Must See

    Everytime I watch this movie I still can't look away, even though I already the ending. The focus around this movie is how our judicial system works ~ innocent until proved guilty. It all takes place in a small stuffy room where 11 men believe the defendent is guilty and 1 man stands alone to show them the error of their ways. It is important that you listen to every conversation because it helps descibe who that person is and why he thinks the way he does. It really is a great movie!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A Course in Communications

    I have used this film in my class on Speech Communications. The various characters capture a vast array of the nuances of speech and communication that all students need to know and understand: both negative and positive. The fact that the cast and the drama are superb is icing on the cake. A 1997 TV remake w/ Jack Lemmon is not quite as good (4 stars), but still is worth watching, and in the classroom it makes for an interesting unit on comparison and contrast.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Simple and Complex

    The study of the men, notably the ones played by Fonda and Cobb, propels the action. The trial itself is secondary. The story calls for deceptively simple acting and the stellar cast keeps it that way. ''12'' is a truly remarkable examination of character, and the lack of it.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews