A blistering character study and an examination of the American melting pot and the judicial system that keeps it in check, Twelve Angry Men holds at its core a deeply patriotic faith in the U.S. legal system. The play centers on Juror Eight, who is at first the sole holdout in an 11-1 guilty vote. Eight sets his sights not on proving the other jurors wrong but rather on getting them to look at the situation in a clear-eyed way not affected by their personal prejudices or biases. Reginald Rose deliberately and carefully peels away the layers of artifice from the men and allows a fuller picture to form of them—and of America, at its best and worst.
After the critically acclaimed teleplay aired in 1954, this landmark American drama went on to become a cinematic masterpiece in 1957 starring Henry Fonda, for which Rose wrote the adaptation. More recently, Twelve Angry Men had a successful, and award-winning, run on Broadway.
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About the Author
David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1984. Mamet is also the author of Writing in Restaurants and On Directing Film, both available from Penguin.
Table of Contents
The television play (1954)
The stage version (1955)
The film version (1957)
Social and political context
Later productions and critical reception
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY