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A Jurisprudent Presentation
at Friday Night Movies:

12 Angry Men

Friday the 5th of March
Pot luck supper @ 7pm
Movie @ 8pm



It's always difficult to keep personal prejudice out of a thing like this. And wherever you run into it, prejudice always obscures the truth.
--Juror #8 (Henry Fonda)

USA: 1957 -- Directed by Sidnet Lumet
Written by reginald Rose
Starring Henry Fonda, Martin Blasam, Lee J Cobb, Jack Klugman, and Jack Warden

--actor as character

Sidney Lumet's directorial debut remains a tense, atmospheric (though slightly manipulative and stagy) courtroom thriller, in which the viewer never sees a trial and the only action is verbal. As he does in his later corruption commentaries such as Serpico or Q & A, Lumet focuses on the lonely one-man battles of a protagonist whose ethics alienate him from the rest of jaded society. As the film opens, the seemingly open-and-shut trial of a young Puerto Rican accused of murdering his father with a knife has just concluded and the 12-man jury retires to their microscopic, sweltering quarters to decide the verdict. When the votes are counted, 11 men rule guilty, while one--played by Henry Fonda, again typecast as another liberal, truth-seeking hero--doubts the obvious. Stressing the idea of "reasonable doubt," Fonda slowly chips away at the jury, who represent a microcosm of white, male society--exposing the prejudices and preconceptions that directly influence the other jurors' snap judgments. The tight script by Reginald Rose (based on his own teleplay) presents each juror vividly using detailed soliloquies, all which are expertly performed by the film's flawless cast. Still, it's Lumet's claustrophobic direction--all sweaty close-ups and cramped compositions within a one-room setting--that really transforms this contrived story into an explosive and compelling nail-biter. --Dave McCoy for Amazon Essentials

Hope to see you there. I'll save you an aisle seat and an appropriate item.


Ranks #7 on the Internet Movie Database's Top 250 Movies

Ranked #2 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Courtroom Drama".

Nominated for Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director & Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium

Nominated for Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture - Drama, Best Motion Picture Actor - Drama (Henry Fonda), Best Motion Picture Director (Sidney Lumet), & Best Supporting Actor (Lee J. Cobb)

More awards

Memorable Quotes

Juror #2: It's hard to put into words. I just think he's guilty. I thought it was obvious from the word, 'Go'. Nobody proved otherwise.
Juror #8: Nobody has to prove otherwise. The burden of proof is on the prosecution. The defendant doesn't even have to open his mouth. That's in the Constitution.

Juror #10: Bright? He's a common ignorant slob. He don't even speak good English.
Juror #11: *Doesn't* even speak good English.

Juror #6: Well, I'm not used to supposin'. I'm just a workin' man. My boss does all the supposin' - but I'll try one. Supposin' you talk us all out of this and, uh, the kid really did knife his father?

More quotes


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.

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".

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.

Henry Fonda immediately complained to Sidney Lumet about the cheap backdrops outside the jury room windows when he walked on set. "They look like shit. Hitch had great backdrops, you could walk right in them," said Fonda, referring to the previous film he made with Alfred Hitchcock, The Wrong Man (1956). Lumet assured him that the director of photography Boris Kaufman had a plan to make them work.

More trivia


When Juror #8 wants to time how long it would take an injured man to walk down the hall, Juror #2 starts and stops the timing and announces it as "exactly 41 seconds". In reality, and considering that the scene does not cut away, the time is 30 seconds.

Within the last half hour of the movie, the clock on the wall in the jury room can be seen indicating 6:15. Several minutes later, E.G. Marshall states that it is "a quarter after six". Several minutes after that, the wall clock is seen again, but still shows 6:15. Still later, when Lee J. Cobb leans over the table after he tears up the snapshot from his wallet, his watch can be seen indicating 5:10.

Several of the techniques used in the jury room, including Juror No. 8's (Henry Fonda's) purchase of the switchblade and the attempt to recreate the time it took the handicapped neighbor to move around his apartment, are known as "jury experiments" and are highly improper. Jurors are not supposed to investigate a case nor to try to re-enact events by acting them out in the jury room. Because the case resulted in an acquittal, it probably would not have affected the outcome here; but had this been a civil case or had it resulted in a conviction, these actions, if they became known to the attorneys or judge involved, would have been grounds for declaring a mistrial.

More goofs