12 Angry Men
12 Angry Men is a Black-and-white film produced in 1957, and tells the story of twelve jurors bound by the acceptance of their civic duty and thrust together into a hot, humid room to determine the guilt or innocence of a boy accused of killing his father in a moment of rage. more...
Only one juror is not certain, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the young man is guilty. With the exception of a few moments at the beginning and the end, the entire movie takes place in the room. A study of contrasts in human character under the stress of responsibility, the movie stars Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley and E.G. Marshall, and is highly regarded from both a critical and popular viewpoint; Roger Ebert lists it as one of his "Great Movies", and it has been consistently ranked in the top 30 of the Internet Movie Database Top 250 List.
Behind the scenes
Directed by Sidney Lumet and adapted by Reginald Rose from his 1954 teleplay which was originally broadcast on CBS, the film was nominated for Academy Awards in the categories of Best Director, Best Picture and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. Boris Kaufman was the cinematographer.
The film was a first for Lumet, Fonda and Rose. It was Lumet's first feature film, and Fonda's first and only role as a film producer; he and Rose co-produced, and it was Rose's only involvement in film production as well.
The filming of 12 Angry Men was completed in 19 days on a budget of $349,000. It begins with the use of cameras positioned above eye level and mounted with wide-angle lenses to give the appearance of greater depth between subjects; by the end of the film nearly everyone is shown in closeup using telephoto lenses from a lower angle, which decreases or "shortens" depth of field. Lumet states that his intention in using these techniques was to create a nearly palpable claustrophobia, and by most accounts he succeeded.
The screenplay was initially produced for television, and was broadcast on the program Studio One in 1954. A complete kinescope of that performance, which had been missing for years and feared lost, was finally discovered in 2003.
12 Angry Men was remade for television in 1997 and starred George C. Scott, James Gandolfini, Tony Danza and Jack Lemmon. In this production the judge is a woman and four of the jurors are African American; in most other aspects the action and dialogue of the film is virtually identical to the original with the exception of a few modernisations such as no smoking in the room.
12 Angry Men is sometimes studied as literature. Some of the screenplays have been published, and Rose wrote several stage adaptations of the story. In 1964 Leo Genn appeared in the play on the London stage. Other theatrical adaptations in which female actors are cast as jurors are called 12 Angry Jurors or 12 Angry Women.
The film was parodied on BBC television in an episode of Hancock's Half Hour, which starred Tony Hancock and Sid James.
The story begins after closing arguments have been presented, as the judge is instructing the jury. The twelve men must determine, unanimously, whether the accused is innocent or guilty of the charge of murder. These twelve then move to the jury room, where they begin to become acquainted with the personalities of their peers. In a preliminary vote they are startled to find that one juror has voted "not guilty." Many of the jurors are amazed and angry because "Davis" (Fonda), the lone dissenter, does not see the "open and shut" nature of the case. Davis maintains that he has a reasonable doubt, and it is morally wrong (and illegal) to condemn a man to death if any jury member has a reasonable doubt.
The ensuing arguments and sifting of the evidence unveil the flaws of the prosecution's case, the questionable representation by the defendant's court-appointed attorney, and the true character of each of the jury members. Throughout the deliberations, not a single juror knows another by his name. Gradually, Davis and those jurors who become convinced by the soundness of his reasoning prove to every man on the jury that the defendant's guilt is not "beyond a reasonable doubt". The result is a vote of 12-0 in favor of acquittal, and the jurors leave the room. What happens in the courtroom after that is left to the imagination of the viewers. In the final scene, as they are going down the courthouse steps toward the street, McCardle calls to Davis and asks for his name. They introduce themselves to each other, say goodbye, and go their separate ways.
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