12 Angry Men (1957 film)

12 Angry Men (1957 film) Summary and Analysis of Part 4


8 limps his way along the distance that the old man would have had to travel, and Juror 2 times it as 41 seconds. 8 suggests that, having heard the fight between the boy and his father, and having heard the scream from the neighbor, the old man assumed that the person running down the stairs was the boy.

3 laughs at this and says, "Brother, I've seen all kinds of displays of dishonesty in my day, but this little display takes the cake. You all come in here with your hearts bleeding on the floor about slum kids and injustice. You listen to some fairytales. Suddenly you start getting through to some of these old ladies. Well, you're not getting through to me. I've had enough."

"I feel sorry for you. What it must feel like to wanna pull the switch," 8 says to him, suggesting that 3 would like to execute the boy himself. "You want to see this boy die because you personally want it, not because of the facts. You're a sadist," he says, and 3 runs to throw a punch at 8, but the others hold him back. "I'll kill him!" he yells, and 8 smiles and says, "You don't really mean you'll kill me, do you?"

After a court official comes in to check on them, the men all stare at 3, skeptically, before taking their seats at the table. 11 stands and makes a plea for cooperation, saying, "This, I have always thought, is a remarkable thing about democracy. That we are...notified. That we are notified by mail to come down to this place to decide on the guilt or innocence of a man we have never heard of before. We have nothing to gain or lose by our verdict. This is one of the reasons why we are strong. We should not make it a personal thing."

5 turns to 4 and asks him if he ever perspires. "No, I don't," the stockbroker says. 6 recommends they take another vote. 2, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 11 all vote "not guilty," making the vote 6 to 6. After he gets into a fight with 10, 9 gets a little overheated and sits down for a moment to catch his breath, as 2 notes that it's going to rain soon. "How come you changed your vote?" 7 asks him, and 2 says he thinks there is room for doubt.

As it begins to thunder and rain heavily outside, 8 struggles to close the window of the room. The foreman walks up to him and reminisces about another storm that happened during a baseball game he was assistant coaching at the high school he works at in Queens.

7 turns on the fan, delighted to get some air circulation, and throws some crumpled pieces of paper at it. "Any of you guys ever go to the Garden?" he asks. 4 gets some water at the water cooler, where 3 is standing. 3 vents to him about the fact that 8 was baiting him, to which 4 replies, "He did a pretty good job."

They sit down to continue discussing, when 11 tells 7 that he doesn't seem to know what "reasonable doubt" means. 8 brings up the topic of the movies that the boy went to see on the night of the murder, and the fact that he couldn't recall their names or casts. "Putting yourself in the boy's place, do you think you could remember details after an upsetting experience such as being slapped in the face by your father?" he asks.

He then points out that the boy was able to recall the names of the films he saw in court, which would suggest that perhaps in the moment of being questioned by the police, he was too shocked to accurately recall. "He had 3 months from the night of the murder to the day of the trial in which to memorize them," 4 says.

8 asks 4 where he was the night before and the night before that, and before that. When 4 tells him he went to the movies with his wife several nights earlier, he is able to name the first feature they saw, The Scarlet Circle, but flubs the title of the one after that, and cannot recall the actors' names. "And you weren't under an emotional stress, were you?" 8 says, dubiously.

2 asks to see the switch knife, as the men decide to wait until 7 for dinner. Standing, 2 discusses the fact that a big deal was made about the downward angle of the stab wound, and suggests that the boy, who is 5'7, could not possibly have stabbed his 6'2 father in that way. 3 stands and wants to give a demonstration of what would be required, going to 8 to act as the victim. When 3 raises his arm to demonstrate, everyone stirs, worried about his violent streak.

5 stands and asks if anyone has ever seen a knife fight like he has. No one has, and he explains that one would have to use a switch knife underhanded, and that anyone who has used a switch knife would know that. He suggests that the boy couldn't have made the kind of wound that killed his father with the experience he had as a kid raised in a slum. 8 asks 12 what he thinks and 12 says he doesn't know. He then asks 7, who says he's changing his vote to "not guilty."

3 is livid, and 11 gets angry at 7 for changing his vote just because he's sick of all the deliberating.


Sidney Lumet uses zoom-ins and perspectives to raise the dramatic stakes of the scenario. For instance, when Juror 8 is demonstrating how fast the witness would have had to get to the door of his apartment in order to see the defendant running down the stairs, Lumet zooms in on 8's feet as he simulates the old man's journey. We see only his legs as he makes his way over the distance covered by the witness, but we cannot see the expressions of his fellow jurors. This close-up creates a sense of tension, and highlights the moment as definitive and important in the course of the film.

As tensions between the different factions within the jury begin to rise, we see that the disparity between the men is not simply an issue of disagreement about the case, but also a strangely political one. While 8 wants to give all of the facts their fair consideration, certain members of the jury, such as 3 and 10, see his examination of the details as some kind of misguided and overly sympathetic political crusade. When he scolds his fellow jurors at one point, the cantankerous 3 yells, "You all come in here with your hearts bleeding on the floor about slum kids and injustice!" As far as he sees it, the case is open-and-shut, and has to do with facts and not with the qualitative structural or political realities that contextualize these facts. In overlooking the facts himself and seeing only what he wants to see, 3 projects his own skewed thinking onto the other jurors, and suggests that it has to do with their "bleeding hearts."

Indeed, 3's anger is so strong that it breaks out into full-blown violence at one point, as he lunges to fight with 8, but is held back by some other jurors. Underneath their disagreement is a tremor of deep frustration and resentment that stems from some fundamental differences in life philosophy. 8 points out that 3's anger has nothing to do with the facts, but his own personal vendetta, his desire to be some kind of avenger, one who does not think of justice or doing what is right.

In between the shouting and arguing that takes place in the room are moments of surprising calm and meandering conversation. For instance, when the sky opens up and it begins pouring rain outside, the foreman wanders up beside 8 at the window and tells a story about a memory of a seemingly hopeless baseball game that he coached in the middle of a thunderstorm. It is a surprisingly tender moment between two men who do not know each other very well. Throughout the process of the deliberation, we see that the men—in the midst of even their heated and contentious fighting—can find common ground and an unusual intimacy.

With every new analysis of the case, 8 wins new jurors over to his side. They each begin to see that there is too much doubtful evidence for anyone to be sure about what happened that night. While there are holdouts, such as Juror 3, even the more stubborn jurors, such as Juror 7, begin to change their tune as more information becomes available. Holding out and fighting for the truth has done 8 some good, as it means that his case for doubt is stronger than the impulsive decisions of his colleagues.