12 Angry Men (1957)

90 or 95 mins | Drama | April 1957

Director:

Sidney Lumet

Writer:

Reginald Rose

Cinematographer:

Boris Kaufman

Editor:

Carl Lerner

Production Designer:

Robert Markel

Production Company:

Orion-Nova Productions
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HISTORY

Aside from an opening montage inside the courthouse, the Judge's instructions to the jury and the final scene of the film, all of the action takes place within the confines of the Jury Room. 12 Angry Men was shot entirely in New York City and the opening and closing exteriors depict Foley Square. According to a HR article dated Apr 1957, the film was rehearsed and shot in a little over a month, at a cost of $340,000.
       The television production of 12 Angry Men , upon which the film was based, starred Robert Cummings and Franchot Tone, and was awarded an Emmy for Best Television Play of the 1954-55 season. Actors Joseph Sweeney and George Voskovec were the only actors from the teleplay to recreate their roles for the feature film. According to a modern source, Reginald Rose had cut twenty minutes from his original play for its television performance and did not add any new material for the film version, which he also wrote. Henry Fonda and Reginald Rose combined the names of their respective companies, Orion and Nova, for the production of this film.
       12 Angry Men (written as Twelve Angry Men in some sources) marked the directing debut of Sidney Lumet (1924--2011). According to a biography of Fonda, Fonda hired Lumet because he had extensive experience in television and had a reputation for staying on schedule and within a budget. Both Fonda and Rose deferred their salaries for the film. DV reported that although a year and a half after the film's release the two producers had yet to receive ... More Less

Aside from an opening montage inside the courthouse, the Judge's instructions to the jury and the final scene of the film, all of the action takes place within the confines of the Jury Room. 12 Angry Men was shot entirely in New York City and the opening and closing exteriors depict Foley Square. According to a HR article dated Apr 1957, the film was rehearsed and shot in a little over a month, at a cost of $340,000.
       The television production of 12 Angry Men , upon which the film was based, starred Robert Cummings and Franchot Tone, and was awarded an Emmy for Best Television Play of the 1954-55 season. Actors Joseph Sweeney and George Voskovec were the only actors from the teleplay to recreate their roles for the feature film. According to a modern source, Reginald Rose had cut twenty minutes from his original play for its television performance and did not add any new material for the film version, which he also wrote. Henry Fonda and Reginald Rose combined the names of their respective companies, Orion and Nova, for the production of this film.
       12 Angry Men (written as Twelve Angry Men in some sources) marked the directing debut of Sidney Lumet (1924--2011). According to a biography of Fonda, Fonda hired Lumet because he had extensive experience in television and had a reputation for staying on schedule and within a budget. Both Fonda and Rose deferred their salaries for the film. DV reported that although a year and a half after the film's release the two producers had yet to receive even half of their fees, they had been successful in selling European theatrical rights to producer Lars Schmidt.
       Although the film received rave reviews and was nominated for three Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay), it did only modest business, grossing a total of $1,000,000, according to a Var news item dated Mar 1958. 12 Angry Men won the Writer's Guild of America Award for Best Film and was also exceptionally popular with foreign critics. It won top awards from the British Film Academy, as well as from the Italian and Polish Film Critics Associations and the Berlin Film Festival.
       As noted in an Aug 1956 HR news item, the State Bar Associations of all of the [then] forty-eight states were given preview showings of the picture prior to its press previews. Subsequent to the film's release, the American Bar Association honored the film for "contributing to greater public understanding and appreciation of the American system of justice."
       A HR news item, dated May 1966, noted that 12 Angry Men had long been used as an industrial training aid for corporate managers studying the interaction, emotions and prejudices of group decision making. According to his autobiography, Fonda was disappointed with United Artists' distribution strategy and felt that the studio's approach had deprived the film of a chance at financial success. In particular, Fonda noted that United Artists placed 12 Angry Men in theaters too large for a "small" film to fill and, in addition, did not rerelease it after it won numerous awards.
       In 1991, Japan's Argo Project, Inc. released a comic reworking of the film, Juninin no Yasashii Nihonjin , or Twelve Gentle Japanese . In this version, eleven of the jurors are initially prepared to acquit, until the lone holdout gradually convinces each of them that the defendant is a cold-blooded killer. A more traditional remake of 12 Angry Men aired on Showtime in 1997, directed by William Friedkin and starring Jack Lemmon as Juror 8. In 2007 12 Angry Men was ranked 87th on AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies--10th Anniversary Edition list of the greatest American films. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
1 Dec 1956
pp. 724-25.
Box Office
9 Mar 1957.
---
Daily Variety
27 Feb 1957
p. 3.
Daily Variety
26 Dec 1958.
---
Daily Variety
26 Jan 1960.
---
Film Daily
27 Feb 1957
p. 6.
Harrison's Reports
2 Mar 1957
p. 35.
Hollywood Citizen-News
10 Feb 1958.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jul 1956
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Aug 1956
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Mar 1957
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Mar 1957
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Apr 1957
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Apr 1957.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Aug 1958.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 May 1966.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jul 1956
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
31 Mar 1957.
---
Motion Picture Daily
27 Feb 1957.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
2 Mar 1957
p. 281.
New York Times
24 Jun 1956.
---
New York Times
15 Apr 1957
p. 24.
Variety
27 Feb 1957
p. 6.
Variety
5 Mar 1958.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
Story and scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
SOUND
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the teleplay "Twelve Angry Men" by Reginald Rose on Studio One (CBS, 20 Sep 1954).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Twelve Angry Men
Release Date:
April 1957
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 10 April 1957
New York opening: 13 April 1957
Production Date:
mid June--mid July 1956 at Fox Movietone Studio, New York
Copyright Claimant:
Orion-Nova Twelve Angry Men
Copyright Date:
10 April 1957
Copyright Number:
LP8463
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
90 or 95
Length(in feet):
8,615
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18206
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At the close of a murder trial conducted in a New York City courtroom, the judge gives the jury its final instructions, reminding them that a guilty verdict will mean an automatic death sentence for the defendant, a Puerto Rican youth accused of killing his father. Once in the stiflingly hot jury room, Juror 3, a middle-aged businessman who is estranged from his own son, loudly proclaims that the boy is guilty and that all ghetto youths are criminals, while Juror 7, a fast-talking salesman, wants the jury to reach a decision quickly because he wishes to attend a baseball game that evening. Juror 1, the foreman, who is a genial high school football coach, conducts a preliminary ballot and, without hesitation, eleven jurors vote for conviction. Juror 8, a sensitive and thoughtful architect, casts the only dissenting vote, stating that he has doubts about the case and wishes to give the boy, who has had a difficult life in the ghetto, a fair hearing. Juror 10, approximately sixty years old and the owner of a garage, gruffly declares that the architect is a weak-willed "bleeding heart" before launching into a diatribe against slum dwellers. Wishing to restore calm, Juror 12, a young advertising executive, suggests that each juror present the reasons behind his verdict as a means of convincing Juror 8. The salesman, the garage owner and the businessman all suggest that the boy's ethnicity and class have been enough to convince them he murdered his father, while Juror 2, a shy and stammering bank clerk, appears to be maintaining his guilty verdict because he feels intimidated by the more outspoken jurors. Juror 4, ... +


At the close of a murder trial conducted in a New York City courtroom, the judge gives the jury its final instructions, reminding them that a guilty verdict will mean an automatic death sentence for the defendant, a Puerto Rican youth accused of killing his father. Once in the stiflingly hot jury room, Juror 3, a middle-aged businessman who is estranged from his own son, loudly proclaims that the boy is guilty and that all ghetto youths are criminals, while Juror 7, a fast-talking salesman, wants the jury to reach a decision quickly because he wishes to attend a baseball game that evening. Juror 1, the foreman, who is a genial high school football coach, conducts a preliminary ballot and, without hesitation, eleven jurors vote for conviction. Juror 8, a sensitive and thoughtful architect, casts the only dissenting vote, stating that he has doubts about the case and wishes to give the boy, who has had a difficult life in the ghetto, a fair hearing. Juror 10, approximately sixty years old and the owner of a garage, gruffly declares that the architect is a weak-willed "bleeding heart" before launching into a diatribe against slum dwellers. Wishing to restore calm, Juror 12, a young advertising executive, suggests that each juror present the reasons behind his verdict as a means of convincing Juror 8. The salesman, the garage owner and the businessman all suggest that the boy's ethnicity and class have been enough to convince them he murdered his father, while Juror 2, a shy and stammering bank clerk, appears to be maintaining his guilty verdict because he feels intimidated by the more outspoken jurors. Juror 4, a middle-aged and articulate stockbroker, and Juror 6, a young blue-collar worker, go over the evidence which determined their verdicts with much detail and thought. The prosecution has presented two seemingly reliable eyewitnesses, and motivation for the murder was suggested by the youth's frequent fights with his father. In addition, a shopkeeper identified the murder weapon as identical to an unusual and ornately carved knife he had sold the boy shortly before the murder. Finishing his exposition, Juror 4 offhandedly remarks that "everyone knows slums breed criminals," leading Juror 5, who until this point has remained silent, to declare with great dignity that he was raised in a slum. After Juror 8 points out inconsistencies in the prosecution's case and raises a number of questions, he throws down a cheap knife he bought near the courthouse which appears almost identical to the murder weapon. As many of the jurors begin to grow frustrated with the discussion, Juror 8 suggests that the foreman take a secret ballot from which he will abstain, promising that if all of them vote guilty this time, he will go along with them on the final ballot. Now, however, one juror out of the eleven votes "not guilty." Most of the jurors believe that Juror 5 has changed his mind, but the "not guilty" vote turns out to be that of Juror 9, an elderly and frail man to whom the jurors have, until now, paid little attention. After tempers have cooled down, Jurors 8 and 9 point out the inconsistencies in the prosecution's version of events on the night of the murder, and Juror 9 is especially convincing when he notes problems with the testimony of a prosecution witness who, like himself, is elderly. The two men manage to sway Jurors 5 and 11 to their side, for a total of four "not guilty" verdicts. Juror 10 now explodes with anger over what he views as "nitpicking" and Juror 3 harasses Juror 11, an Eastern European refugee, for changing his mind. After tempers subside, the weary jury continues its deliberations and when another ballot is taken, the tally is six to six, with Jurors 2 and 6 changing their original verdicts. Now at a complete standstill, some of the jurors want to declare a hung jury, but know that the judge will not accept the declaration without further deliberations. When Juror 11, who takes his duty as a citizen very seriously, questions whether all of the jurors have a clear understanding of "reasonable doubt," the obnoxious Juror 7 makes an angry speech full of anti-immigrant invective. Next, the newly confident Juror 2 asks how a 5'6" boy could have made a downward stab wound on a man who stood 6'2", leading Juror 5, who saw many a knife fight in the tough neighborhood in which he was raised, to convincingly demonstrate that the boy would most likely have held the knife underhanded, making a downward wound impossible. The foreman and Juror 12 eventually vote "not guilty," as does Juror 7, whose lack of concern over the case and desire to do whatever is most expedient greatly angers Juror 11, the immigrant. When Juror 8 asks the three remaining jurors to explain their continued insistence on a guilty verdict, Juror 10 makes an angry speech so full of hate and bigotry that everyone is shocked into silence. Juror 4, earlier so confident that the boy was guilty, admits he has reasonable doubt when the astute Juror 9 suddenly remembers that a female prosecution eyewitness had impressions on the sides of her nose of the sort left by eyeglasses. In support of their "not guilty" verdicts, the jurors realize that the witness deceived the court by taking off her glasses prior to her court appearance and they surmise that she was most likely not wearing them in bed the night she claimed to have witnessed the murder. Since Juror 10, who remains separated from the group because of shame over his outburst, has indicated he will change his vote, Juror 3 now stands alone in his conviction that the boy is guilty and he becomes increasingly belligerent and stubborn. When a picture of his son, who is only a few years older than the accused, unexpectedly falls out of his wallet, he suddenly breaks down into sobs and exclaims that all children are rotten ingrates. Overcome with emotion and guilt at the memory of his son, who rejected his harsh and authoritarian manner, he finally whispers "not guilty." As the jurors silently file out of the jury room, Juror 8 gently hands the distressed man his jacket. On the courthouse steps, Juror 8 and Juror 9 bid farewell, secure in the knowledge that they helped to ensure that personal prejudices did not determine the fate of the accused. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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