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4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 17 August 2006
Produced by Henry Fonda and Reginald Rose (screenwriter and the author of the original play) and directed by the great Sidney Lumet (in this his cinematic debut) this mainly jury room centred film, is quite simply the greatest film ever made. Lumet, who cut his teeth in television, brought a lot of unknown television acting talent with him to this unique piece of work. Seasoned film actors, Fonda, Lee J Cobb, Ed Begley, Robert Preston and E G Marshall dovetail seamlessly with the other players, among them Martin Balsam, Jack Warden, Jack Klugman and Edward Binns.

The plot is ridiculously simple. A young Hispanic man is on trial for murdering his father, and in what appears to the majority of the jury, an open and shut case of guilty.

One man, Henry Fonda, as juror number 8, stands alone as the dissenting voice against the prejudice and preconceived ideas of the other 11. Though bit by bit, the evidence is broken down and what initially appeared so certain becomes a reasonable doubt in enough of the jurors minds as to expose the bigoted notions of a couple of them.

The essence of this film is in it's refreshing simplicity in terms of staging, dialogue and delivery. The actors are all on top of their game, working with first class material. Other films rely on epic sets and or clever camera techniques to hold the audiences attention. (I discount Citizen Kane from that as it was a true landmark achievement) This film, above all others, proves that that is not necessary. Twelve Angry Men rewards the viewer even after the 30th watch (certainly in my case! I could play the parts myself, although not quite as good!). Simply the best!
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on 2 August 2006
12 Angry Men is a forgotten classic. When talking about the greatest films of all time, it rarely comes up. Yet EVERY single person I have met who has seen the film has adored it.

In a movie world where big celebrities and expensive special effects seem to be what brings the money in, this film is so refreshing. In this film, there is only one star name - Henry Fonda. He plays one of only 14 speaking parts in movie. There are four sets: The courtroom (2 minutes at the start), outside the courthouse (30 seconds at the end), and then the bathroom and the jury room. No fancy effects, just 12 characters with nothing but a script in their heads to give to keep you entertained. This is how films can be done!

The plot is simple; a young boy is accused of murder. The case seems open and shut to 11 of the jurors who vote guilty. Only one (Fonda) is even unsure. When he wants to discuss further he is greeted by two bigots, desperate to put 'one of them' to the chair, a man who is only interested in going to watch his beloved Yankees and cares little for the outcome and a host of weary men, who are sick of the whole situation; very few are even prepared to listen. For the next two hours, every fact of the case is ironed out until what was black and white becomes very grey.

12 Angry Men is one of the finest films I have ever seen. Sidney Lumet's directing captures the stuffy, intense and claustrophobic atmosphere of the room while all the actors make their characters memorable. This film is a dream.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 June 2016
"12 Angry Men" is a cinematic classic from the final days of the age of the Silver Screen. It's a drama that presents the story of a courtroom jury - made up of twelve white men - who deliberate over whether to find the defendant guilty or not. As the film starts, eleven of the men believe the defendant to be guilty, with only one man unsure ... and so a discussion ensues - often very heated - on what constitutes 'reasonable doubt'. Finally, some 90 minutes later, these twelve men reach a unanimous verdict. It's a superbly acted movie - most notably by Henry Fonda and Lee J. Cobb. And it's directed in a manner that, although almost exclusively filmed in one room, remains exciting and engaging. It's a film about both how personalities can conflict and about the ways in which consensus is built - and how these issues affect the practice of justice. Given the seminal importance of this movie, it deserves to be watched.

The movie centres on a the debate that takes place between jurors - in a New York City courthouse. An eighteen-year-old black 'boy' from a slum area is on trial for allegedly stabbing his father to death. The jurors are instructed by the judge that if there is any reasonable doubt then they are to return a verdict of not guilty. Otherwise a guilty verdict will result in a mandatory death sentence. With the jurors opinion divided - 11-1 - in favour of a guilty verdict, one man - Juror 9 (Fonda) - is faced with the task of explaining why he believes there is reasonable doubt. And the way he goes about doing this is, quite simply, amazing. Every point made by the prosecution is subjected to criticism, and shown to be potentially erroneous. What's so encaptivating is the ridicule Juror 9 faces - even though he admits that the defendant might be guilty. The point is, reasonable doubt exists - and, on that basis, Juror 9 refuses to submit. And, slowly, others become convinced by what he says.

This is a genuinely dramatic movie, and the way it's presented in black and white only seems to add to its gravitas. I highly recommend this film. I recently purchased the Blu-ray edition, which offers superb audio and video quality - and I suspect that this is the best quality version.
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on 4 July 2000
One of the best films I've ever seen. It captures the mood of both the time and the situation brilliantly. Fonda is superb but each of the actors deserves credit, including a young Jack Klugman (Quincy). Having seen the film many times with my wife, we know exactly what's coming next, but this never detracts from our viewing, indeed it suits to enhance it. Altogether, a joy to watch and an excellent example of people maintaining their values at all costs. If only all youngsters from today could look - they would only learn from it.
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on 1 March 2006
Classic film set entirely in a jury room apart from the first and last couple of minutes. A Puerto Rican young man is tried for murder and the jury retire to reach their verdict. The capital case seems to be clear-cut but one juror bravely registers a not-guilty verdict and gradually convinces the others of the flaws in the prosecution, exposing their prejudices and differences in the process.

Twelve Angry Men is a brilliantly made film with some clever directional touches used to highlight the tension and claustrophobia of the jury room. Its central story is as relevant now as when it was made almost 50 years ago. Simple but effective. An absolute classic.
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We are all used to courtroom dramas, but one aspect that never seems to get dramatised is the Jury deliberations. I think one of the reasons for this lack is that this excellent film did it so well that no other Jury drama will ever stand up to it.

We are never shown the court case the jury are deliberating. The film starts with the summing up of the Judge, and the jury filing into their room. What follows is an adsorbing ninety minutes as the jurors discuss the case and a verdict is reached. At first all but one (Henry Fonda) believes the defendant to be guilty, but Fonda has reasonable doubt, and a belief that as a man's life is at stake then the least they can do is talk it through properly.

Having served in a jury myself (though in a British court and where the possible penalty for the defendant was a lot less severe than death) I recognised a lot of what was shown in this film. People willing to convict out of blind prejudice, people wishing to weigh every item of evidence before reaching a verdict, people wanting to just get it over with as quickly as possible. It is a tale that really struck a chord with me.

For dramatic purposes some of the prejudices and arguments are a bit over the top, and as we have not seen the trial then the writer is free to introduce evidence and arguments out of thin air (the point about the glasses in the discussion of one witnesses testimony) in order to make a neat narrative. I can forgive these points. What I cannot, however, forgive is the lack of attention to legal detail. There are one or two instances, especially in the first discussion of the murder weapon, that are just plain illegal and would cause a juror to be dismissed. I have had to knock a star of for that.

The film is brilliantly directed by Sidney Lumet. The action all takes place in one room, we are often distracted as two or three conversations are going on at once, in a very verite manner. As the movie progresses Lumet changes the lenses on the camera and the angle of the shots to give an ever increasing feeling of claustrophobia and tension.

It is an excellent character study, as each of the 12 disparate men and their motives are examined. This is a combination of excellent writing, directing and superb acting. The twelve actors are on top form, and give convincing and moving performances.

It is not often I enjoy a film with all talking in one room and no action, but this had me adsorbed.

This DVD has a nice black and white widescreen transfer, which doesn't have any noticeable scratches or defects. The sound is pretty good. The only extra is a trailer. Four stars in total.
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on 20 November 2006
words. At least, this film is too good for my words...

I cannot conjure the magic with my words. I cannot capture the nuances, the creeping sense first fear...then building tension...then hope...frustration...second wind...and finally elation!

Possibly too young too appreciate every aspect - I was 14 when I first watched this film. I walked the yards to the doorway as Fonda did, I held the flick knife and felt its weight...turned it in my hand to hack (over arm)...then stab (under arm)...thought about the best way to kill a man. I turned the arguments over in my head as they unfolded on the screen. I lived the drama.

I'm 28 now and I'm an architect. This movie is one of the reasons why I chose that particular career path. Watch the final reel and find out why...
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on 21 September 2005
I am so sick of watching big hollywood productions which rely on style over substance with millions spent on big names, big special effects and big propaganda. 12 angry men should be used as an educational video for the filmakers of today. The film probably cost next to nothing to produce, the cast is pretty much unknown (barring fonda), and the film is set in just one room. It's absurd to think that this film is easily one of the best i have seen.
A film should be both enlightening and entertaining. 12 Angry men is all of this. Indeed, I found myself shouting at the TV at times; the film was just so compelling and the issues and characters explored were so well handled.
it's increadible to think how brilliant a film can be with quite simply a strong script and covincing acting. Let this be a lesson to the Hollywood of today.
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on 13 June 2013
Blu Ray picture has a fine layer of grain, but is still better than my DVD version12 Angry Men [DVD] [1957].Also the picture fills the whole screen(DVD doesn't).Audio on BLU is better than the DVD version(using normal TV speakers). There are no extras or a menu.
Worth upgrading if you want the best picture/sound available for region/zone B players.
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on 16 May 2006
I cannot tell you how many times i have watched this film, I know most of the dialogue and still i return for more.

Just think this was Sidney Lumets directing debut,quite an achievement when you consider he received an Oscar nomination aswell.The film is regarded by many film historians as one of the greatest character analysis films ever made

As with many of Lumets atmospheric films (The Hill included) his use of the weather to increase the tension throughout his films is a fact that is lost to most first time viewers.

Here in this incredible jury room drama the temperature of the warmest day of the year increases as the tension of conflict between jury members increases.

The thunderstorm breaks as Ed Begleys character reveals his hatred and racism considering all slum dwellers as criminals bringing severe criticism from everyone,so much so that all but one remain seated with their backs to him.

The intensity of the rain mirrors the intensity of the drama until the final jury member Lee J Cobb breaks under the strain of the loss of his son and wanting the accused punished for the grief he is suffering.

As he breaks down in tears with his reluctant not guilty verdict the intensity of the storm relents and the unanumous verdict of not guilty is given when the calm and tension of the jury room comes to an end as does the rain.

You have to have seen the film a fair number of times to realise this is all happening and this is what makes the film such a masterpiece of cinematography.

Most of the cast were seasoned actors but only Henry Fonda has star status.

Lee J Cobb, Ed Begley etc had not become Holywood stars in 1957 but they play their characters to perfection with all bringing something different and important to a simply spellbinding script.

Just watch the expressions and body language of each person in that room as the case is discussed,the camera angles looking from above,below and directly into their faces is magnificent only increasing the pent up anger of the situation.

The fact that their decision will mean a likely death sentence for the accused is lost on them.

A ball ticket, three garages going to ruin, and total lack of interest in the proceedings.

Only Henry Fonda the star and co producer and financial backer of the film brings them to their senses with the realisation that this lad deserves a few words having had a rough upbringing all his life.

Ive seen many impressive films over the years but this film is as good as it gets with acting of a magical quality by most of the actors but Lee J Cobb and Ed Begley deserve most of the credit with Henry Fondas skill as an actor allowing the proceedings to move at a gripping leisurely pace.

It is he as the only juror with some doubt over the court proceedings,and his arguments which eventually convince every jury member that the teenager maybe innocent.

Fonda does not say the lad is innocent or guilty he is just not sure, even saying the lad is probably guilty but his lawyer made a poor attempt in defending his client leaving out certain key facts in the case.

The film moves at a beautifully staged pace, so leisurely infact that if it was not for Lumets superb directing and supreme script and dialogue it would fail miserably but each jury member is allowed to voice their opinions some which are clearly predudicial against the lad and the society he comes from.

Lumets placing of a young Jack Klugman as the only member who can empathise with the lads plight,having been born and lived in a slum neighbourhood all his life is important to the development and deliberation because Klugman chooses every word extremely carefully and he can be seen as the most important jury member alongside Henry Fonda .

Note how little Klugman says throughout the dialogue,he is instrumental in the final verdict,his knowledge of gang fights and correct use of a switch blade.All other jury members are clueless when it comes to the correct use of a switchblade knife hence Klugmans knowledge being instrumental to several jury members changing their pleas to not guilty.

His shout of "Did you say the old man ran to the door" and all this near the end of the film to bring the major discrepancies of the defence lawyers defence of his client.

Even though Klugman has little involvement with the rest of the jury members,he sits motionless giving little in responce,even rejecting the formans wishes of discussing his opinions on his guilty plea, he is clearly uncomfortable in the presence of the other jury members.

Other jury members see him as an easy target for their jokes of ridicule and he infact is the only jury member to receive such treatment yet apart from the elderly gent Mr McCardle who sits next to Henry Fonda he is the most important and influential jury member.

Note also he is most well dressed jury member even wearing a tie on one of the hottest days of the year when infact due to his impovrished background he is the poorest member there but he says nothing unpleasant about this 18yr old whose life is in his hands.

He feels it is his duty to defend this lad because he belongs to the same community and saying very few words throughout the film he attempts to distance himself from his rough upbringing which is reflected in his clothing and total unease amongst more educated and probably far wealthier jury members.

All his brief testimony carry significant weight with no jury member contradicting his words.

He doesnot think he is innocent delivering a guilty verdict but says little else until the all important finally.

The other jury members through their professions have little in common. When he does say something it drops like a bombshell on the rest of the room,nobody contradicts anything he says,all agree with his statments. Masterfull directing by Lumet.

He sits next to the rather serious stockbroker who is the most difficult jury member to convince and possibly one of the most intelligent jury members due to his behavior not getting into arguements or getting angry.

Remember it is Klugmans dialogue of bringing the old mans ability to get to the door in time to have witnessed the lad running away that makes the broker question his verdict.

Mr McCardle seeing him stroking his nose due to the discomfort of his eyeglasses then brings the testimony of the womans eyesight into question.

The presecution counsel had only two witnesses to this murder, the old man and the woman across the El Lines who claimed she saw the lad stab his father in the wrong way.

Klugman and McCardle testimony vertually throw out any doubt that the rest of the jury members have about their guilty verdict.

Even Lee J Cobb and Ed Begley reluctantly have to agree to change their plea.

Also note how important it is that lee J Cobb is sitting next to the broker simply because he is reling on him to give him support for his extreme stance on his guilty verdict.

If it was not for Kluggmans testimony and reluctance to say what he really means and feels for the proceedings the film would loose some of its credibility.

Ed Begley clearly can see his garage business going down the drain dislikes coloured people especially those from slum neighbourhoods who he considers all to be criminals.

Other jury members may share the same opinion but it is Begleys extreme and often bitter criticism of those poorer members of society that see every jury member turn against him.

Lee J Cobb angry at the loss of a son he deeply loves is the last and most reluctant to change his verdict to not guilty.

He feels this lad must pay for his crime of stabbing his father,he is blind to all the facts Fonda and the rest throw at him, ITs MY RIGHT he says on more than one occasion.

Lee J cobb and Ed Begley are the two most disliked and argumentative members of the jury with Cobb more than willing to use his fists to prove his point.

There cannot be many films of any era where every actor featured is simply born to play the role in the film.

The acting is approaching perfection

Sidney Lumet captures the suspense of the hottest day of the year in a stuffy upstairs room perfectly.Fondas quiet brilliance of winning even the most predujiced jury member over to a unanumous NOT GUILTY must rank as one of the greatest moments in film history.

By now you must have guessed this is in my top three favorite films of all time,once you have seen it you may come to the same conclusion.

The only disappointment in this amazing film are the lack of extras on this disc,either there were none to be had or cast members were unwilling to spare their time,anyway this is one film everyone must see before they die.

After you have read this review of mine just ask yourself why do you like the film so much, and what is it about the film that makes it such a momentous piece of 90minutes.

Just return to the film and try and analyse the faces and expressions of each jury member.

Why are they sitting in that particular position in the jury room, granted they may have sat like this in court but any chair was available and apart from the timid bank clerk saying we should sit as we did in court they could have sat anywhere.

Their positions especially Cobb, Marshall and Klugman all sitting together is instrumental to the way Lumet wanted to direct the film and its dialogue.

An extremely clever film where actors bodylanguage and scrip diaolgue are a triumph of cinematography.

It was made in 1957 long before most of the actors became household names and the civilrights movement Malcolm X, Martin Luther King etc had only just started.

Note not a single woman or coloured person on the jury and remarkably the only coloured person in the entire film the accused who appeared for less than one minute almost as if he was unimportant, but as we know he was all important and hence Jack Clugmans reluctance to stand up for him with he being white and the accused being coloured.

A great film indeed and it improves during every viewing which is a rarity today.

Watch it and make your own decision INNOCENT OR GUILTY of being a masterpiece.
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