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  • Writer's pictureThomas Duncan

12 Angry Men (1957) Revisit ft. Kieran B and Sara Shea




Original Episode: #51 - 12 Angry Men (1957) - (released February 10, 2021)

New Episode: #218 - 12 Angry Men (1957) Revisit ft. Kieran B and Sara Shea (released July 10, 2024)


Guests:


Cast:

  • Sidney Lumet, Director

  • Reginald Rose, Writer

  • Kenyon Hopkins, Music

  • Boris Kaufman, Cinematographer

  • Martin Balsam as Juror 1

  • John Fiedler as Juror 2

  • Lee J. Cobb as Juror 3

  • E.G. Marshall as Juror 4

  • Jack Klugman as Juror 5

  • Edward Binns as Juror 6

  • Jack Warden as Juror 7

  • Henry Fonda as Juror 8

  • Joseph Sweeney as Juror 9

  • Ed Begley as Juror 10

  • George Voskovec as Juror 11

  • Robert Webber as Juror 12


Recognition:

  • 12 Angry Men was released on April 10, 1957.

  • It was met with widespread critical acclaim, but had only a moderate box office. It would not find a wider audience until it hit TV audiences a few years later.

  • It was nominated for Best Picture, Director (Lumet), and Adapted Screenplay (Rose)

  • Currently, it holds the distinction of being the highest rated legal drama on RT.

  • In 2011, the film was one of the top 20 most screened films in secondary schools in the United Kingdom.

  • The film has been remade and readapted many times including in 1997 by William Friedkin, in Germany, Russia, China, and South Korea.

  • It has been recognized by the AFI on the following lists:

  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills – No. 88

  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains: Juror No. 8 – No. 28 Hero

  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers – No. 42

  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) – No. 87

  • AFI's 10 Top 10 – No. 2 Courtroom Drama

  • 12 Angry Men currently holds a 100% rating among critics on RT, a 97 score on Metacritic, and a 4.6/5 on Letterboxd.


Plot Summary: "12 Angry Men" is a masterclass in cinematic storytelling, a film that transcends its simple setting to explore the complexities of human nature and the intricacies of the American justice system. Directed by Sidney Lumet, this 1957 classic features a powerhouse performance by Henry Fonda, leading an ensemble cast through a tense, emotionally charged jury deliberation.


The plot revolves around twelve jurors tasked with deciding the fate of a young man accused of murder. As the film unfolds almost entirely within the confines of a single jury room, the characters' personal biases, prejudices, and moral dilemmas come to the forefront. Fonda’s Juror 8 stands as the lone voice of doubt against an initial consensus of guilt, gradually dismantling the case piece by piece through logical reasoning and relentless questioning.


"12 Angry Men" remains a timeless reflection on justice, democracy, and the power of reasonable doubt. It’s a film that challenges viewers to look beyond the surface and question the assumptions that underpin their beliefs. This is not just a courtroom drama; it is an enduring examination of the moral and ethical struggles that define us all.


Did You Know?:

  • Director Sidney Lumet had the actors all stay in the same room for several hours on end and do their lines over and over without filming them. This was to give them a real taste of what it would be like to be cooped up in a room with the same people.

  • Because the painstaking rehearsals for the film lasted an exhausting two weeks, filming had to be completed in an unprecedented 21 days.

  • This film is commonly used in business schools and workshops to illustrate team dynamics and conflict resolution techniques.

  • Because of the demands of the film's low budget, if the lighting was set up for a shot that took place from one particular angle, all the shots from that same angle had to be filmed then and there. This meant that different sides of the same conversation were sometimes shot several weeks apart.

  • Many of the shots of the actors were filmed on their own, and then edited together. This required the sound of the rain to be recorded separately for each actor.

  • Henry Fonda hired Sidney Lumet to direct because he had extensive experience in television and had a reputation for staying on schedule and within budget.


Ask Dana Anything:

  • Sara Shea (Shea Cinema Podcast)

    • What have you enjoyed most about doing this podcast with your son, Tom?

    • What have you learned about yourself through doing this podcast?

    • Looking back on your life, what job or career would you choose if you couldn’t be a lawyer?

    • Who would you want to play you in the movie of your life?


The Stanley Rubric:

Original Legacy Score: 9.5

New Legacy Score: 9.25


Original Impact/Significance Score: 6.5

New Impact/Significance Score: 8


Original Novelty Score: 10

New Novelty Score: 8.85


Original Classicness Score: 9.5

New Classicness Score: 9.5


Original Rewatchability Score: 10

New Rewatchability Score: 10


Original Audience Score: 9.7 (RT)

New Audience Score: 9.4 (91% Google, 97% RT)


Original Total Score: 55.7 (was #3 on the GMOAT official list)

New Total Score: 55


In Memorium:

  • Renauld White, 80, American model and actor (Guiding Light)

  • Martin Mull, 80, American actor (Clue, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Danny Phantom)

  • Robert Towne, 89, American screenwriter (Chinatown, The Last Detail, Shampoo, The Firm, Days of Thunder, Mission: Impossible) was thanked by Coppola at the Oscars for script doctoring The Godfather; In 2017, Vulture placed him No. 3 on its list of the 100 Best Screenwriters of All Time; only Billy Wilder and Joel & Ethan Coen ranked higher.


Remaining Questions:

  • Did the jury reach the correct verdict?

  • Why was the bathroom bigger than the jury room?

  • Would the film be the same with air-conditioning?

  • If you were on the jury, when would you have flipped?

  • Have any of us ever served on a jury? (Have any of us even been summoned?) How about Dana before he became an attorney?

  • What do you think the Amazing Mrs. Bainbridge was about?

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