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  • Writer's pictureRonny Duncan Studios

12 Angry Men (1957)

Updated: Oct 16, 2022

Plot Summary: Following the closing arguments in a murder trial, the 12 members of the jury must deliberate, with a guilty verdict meaning death for the accused, an inner-city teen. As the dozen men try to reach a unanimous decision while sequestered in a room, one juror (Henry Fonda) casts considerable doubt on elements of the case. Personal issues soon rise to the surface, and conflict threatens to derail the delicate process that will decide one boy's fate.

*Recognition: Nominated for Best Picture, Director (Sidney Lumet), Adapted Screenplay (Reginald Rose); 2007 National Film Registry Inductee; The American Film Institute named Juror 8, played by Henry Fonda, 28th in a list of the 50 greatest movie heroes of the 20th century. AFI also named 12 Angry Men the 42nd most inspiring film, the 88th most heart-pounding film and the 87th best film of the past hundred years (2007). The film holds a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on critic reviews, and the site's consensus reads: "Sidney Lumet's feature debut is a superbly written, dramatically effective courtroom thriller that rightfully stands as a modern classic". AFI's 10 Top 10 – No. 2 Courtroom Drama behind To Kill a Mockingbird.

What is this movie is about?: What is the bigger injustice: convicting an innocent person or setting free a guilty person? Also, what we wished every jury was like if we were on trial for our lives.

Best Performance: Henry Fonda (Juror 8)/Sidney Lumet (Director)

Best Secondary Performance: Lee J. Cobb (Juror 3)/Joseph Sweeney (Juror 9)

Most Charismatic Award: Joseph Sweeney (Juror 9)/Lee J. Cobb (Juror 3)

Best Scene: The Second Knife, Eyeglasses, 3 is Pushed to the Brink, Juror 8 Shows Kindness to Juror 3, Second Vote, Bathroom Break, 11 confronts 7, "you know these people..."

Favorite Scene: Eyeglasses

Most Indelible Moment: The Second Knife/The Second Vote

Best Lines:

Juror No. 3: You're talking about a matter of seconds! Nobody can be that accurate.

Juror No. 8: I think testimony that could put a boy into the electric chair should be that accurate.

Juror #2: It's hard to put into words. I just think he's guilty. I thought it was obvious from the word, 'Go'. Nobody proved otherwise.

Juror #8: Nobody has to prove otherwise. The burden of proof is on the prosecution. The defendant doesn't even have to open his mouth. That's in the Constitution.

Juror #8:It's always difficult to keep personal prejudice out of a thing like this. And wherever you run into it, prejudice always obscures the truth. I don't really know what the truth is. I don't suppose anybody will ever really know. Nine of us now seem to feel that the defendant is innocent, but we're just gambling on probabilities - we may be wrong. We may be trying to let a guilty man go free, I don't know. Nobody really can. But we have a reasonable doubt, and that's something that's very valuable in our system. No jury can declare a man guilty unless it's SURE. We nine can't understand how you three are still so sure. Maybe you can tell us.

Juror #11: I beg pardon...

Juror #10: "I beg pardon?" What are you so polite about?

Juror #11: For the same reason you are not: it's the way I was brought up.

Funniest Line:

Juror #7: You a Yankee fan? Juror #5: No, Baltimore. Juror #7: Baltimore? That's like being hit in the head with a crowbar once a day.

Juror #3: That business before when that tall guy, what's-his-name, was trying to bait me? That doesn't prove anything. I'm a pretty excitable person. I mean, where does he come off calling me a public avenger, sadist and everything? Anyone in his right mind would blow his stack. He was just trying to bait me.

Juror #4: He did an excellent job.

Juror #10: Bright? He's a common ignorant slob. He don't even speak good English.

Juror #11: *Doesn't* even speak good English.

The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 9.5

Impact/Significance: 6.5

Novelty: 10

Classic-ness: 9.5

Rewatchability: 10

Audience Score: 9.7

Total: 55.2

Remaining Questions:

  • What happens to the defendant?

  • Why does Juror 2 sound so much like Piglet?

  • How do you make $27k in 1957 selling marmalade?

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