12 Angry Men (1957 film)

12 Angry Men (1957 film) Study Guide

12 Angry Men is a film from 1957, directed by Sidney Lumet, with a screenplay by Reginald Rose, adapted from his teleplay. It looks at a jury of 12 men as they decide the fate of an 18-year-old defendant who is on trial for the murder of his father. It takes place in one setting, in the jury deliberation room, but goes through many different narrative stages.

The film follows the jury as they go from nearly all believing the defendant is guilty to changing their mind based on the reasonable doubt present in the case. The primary force causing the men to consider the possibility that the defendant is not guilty is Juror 8, played by Henry Fonda. Other members of the cast include Lee J. Cobb, Joseph Sweeney, Ed Begley, and Jack Warden.

The film, Lumet's first, was met with widespread acclaim, and is considered one of the most important films in the American canon. It is particularly celebrated for Lumet's intelligent use of camera angle and close-up to make a very stationary story come to life. Roger Ebert wrote of the film, "12 Angry Men was lean and mean. It got ecstatic reviews and a spread in Life magazine, but was a disappointment at the box office. Over the years it has found a constituency, however, and in a 2002 Internet Movie Database poll it was listed 23rd among the best films of all time." It was nominated for Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Adapted Screenplay at the Academy Awards.