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12 Angry Men (Twelve Angry Men) (1957)

tomatometer

100

Average Rating: 9/10
Reviews Counted: 45
Fresh: 45 | Rotten: 0

Sidney Lumet's feature debut is a superbly written, dramatically effective courtroom thriller that rightfully stands as a modern classic.

100

Average Rating: 8.6/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 0

Sidney Lumet's feature debut is a superbly written, dramatically effective courtroom thriller that rightfully stands as a modern classic.

audience

97

liked it
Average Rating: 4.2/5
User Ratings: 98,287

My Rating

Movie Info

A Puerto Rican youth is on trial for murder, accused of knifing his father to death. The twelve jurors retire to the jury room, having been admonished that the defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Eleven of the jurors vote for conviction, each for reasons of his own. The sole holdout is Juror #8, played by Henry Fonda. As Fonda persuades the weary jurors to re-examine the evidence, we learn the backstory of each man. Juror #3 (Lee J. Cobb), a bullying self-made

PG,

Drama, Classics

Reginald Rose

Mar 6, 2001

Criterion Collection - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (45) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (45) | Rotten (0) | DVD (24)

Too few films take on the art of arguing as a subject; we could certainly use more of them, but until then, Lumet's window into strained civic duty will continue to serve mightily.

July 3, 2013 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film leaves a tremendous impact.

June 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Mechanically written, but within its own middlebrow limitations, it delivers the goods.

June 26, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A strangely realistic thriller.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Although it may sound ungallant, these 12 Angry Men, are all right without distaff glamour. Their dramas are powerful and provocative enough to keep a viewer spellbound.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is a film where tension comes from personality conflict, dialogue and body language, not action.

November 19, 2002 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Comments (3)
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There is real value is how it allows each member of the cultural mosaic of a jury to develop into distinct, damaged, and interesting characters

August 29, 2013 Full Review Source: Cinemania

The film takes a confined, almost completely banal real-world location and makes it completely dynamic, using incredibly nimble camera movements to establish character motivation and theme.

June 30, 2013 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

The cast is incredible, the writing superb, and the film is unparalleled in its sheer excellence.

December 12, 2012 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

This was Sidney Lumet's first movie and it's as riveting as it was back in the late 50s, when everything was changing.

December 9, 2011 Full Review Source: Scene-Stealers.com
Scene-Stealers.com

an incisive and gripping film

December 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

Lumet keeps things tense, sweaty, suspenseful and entertaining despite the contrived story line.

May 12, 2011 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Outstanding Henry Fonda jury classic.

January 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

A brilliant courtroom drama whose strength lies within the power of Rose's words and Sidney Lumet's great direction (his debut).

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews
Matt's Movie Reviews

12 Angry Men has some shrewd observations to sell about argumentation and group behavior, but they're not the ones of which the film seems most proud.

December 28, 2009 Full Review Source: Nick's Flick Picks
Nick's Flick Picks

taut, well-crafted sociological study

August 3, 2009 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

Not much action, lots of words, great cinema.

April 24, 2009 Full Review Source: Film4 | Comments (3)
Film4

Every bit the classic it's been made out to be for all these years.

April 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

Power house jury room drama w/cast of memorable actors.

March 8, 2008
Video-Reviewmaster.com

Makes no self-saluting motions to greater importance, which gives the material the much-desired breathing room it needs to reach full potency.

July 3, 2007 Full Review Source: Projection Booth
Projection Booth

Sidney Lumet's feature directing debut is a brilliant courtroom drama, with a superlative cast that includes Henry Fonda, Martin Balsam, Ed Begley, Jack Warden, and E.G. Marshall.

December 18, 2005
EmanuelLevy.Com

A masterful work of debate and dialogue; of shifting momentum and the ideal of sticking to your scruples in the face of antagonistic groupthink.

August 26, 2005 Full Review Source: Arizona Daily Star
Arizona Daily Star

Audience Reviews for 12 Angry Men (Twelve Angry Men)

[img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/icons/icon14.gif[/img]
April 13, 2014
Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

I stylish drama that you fail to appreciate these days. A rarity and a classic in its own right.
September 1, 2013
FiLmCrAzY
Film Crazy

Super Reviewer

With a blazing cast and effective plot, Sidney Lumet's debut picture is a stunning drama and one of the essential classics of cinema. What makes Sidney Lumet's work standout is the fact that he can do so much with so little. 12 Angry men, has a great cast of talented actors who deliver strong performances. The film starts off slow, but as the film unfolds, the plot becomes more intense therefore you're more involved. Lumet is a terrific filmmaker and he crafted a solid picture with this one. The fact that Lumet is able to pull off terrific tension because of the performances he gets out of the actors as well as a well constructed script that is engaging. Despite the fact that the film is set in one room, the film showcases Sidney Lumet's talent in telling a well constructed story early on in his career. This is a simple, yet brilliant film that delivers suspense as the film unwinds and as the plot progresses the tensions mount to a great climax. A key component of the film's success is Henry Fonda and Lee J. Cobb on-screen chemistry. Their disagreement over the facts of the case is one of the strongest aspects of the film. Henry Fonda is terrific here, and his performance is memorable, and is only topped by his performance by the Sergio Leone classic Once Upon A Time in the West. If you love classic cinema that relies more on the casts performances rather than effects to create an effective plot, then 12 Angry Men is a must see film and is among Sidney Lumet's greatest achievements in cinema. This film should definitely be seen by any serious film fan.
October 13, 2012
TheDudeLebowski65
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

To most people, this was a clear-cut case. A young man accused of patricide with a gun, a mountain of evidence against him and a jury of 12 people that are more concerned with getting home as early as possible than to serve in the name of justice. After the hearing, the jury was sent into a small room to come to a singular decision - a simple choice of guilty or not guilty. The vote was cast, hands shot up in agreement to the guilty verdict, yet one man stayed his hand: juror number 8 (Henry Fonda). In the face of incredible unilateral pressure, he was the only one that dared to look closer at what had perspired that fateful night of the crime. At that point the entire room goes up in a furor, the tension rises, the temperature shows no sign of going down and as the sun sets alongside the ensuing discussions, things only get more complex.

In principle, this set-up is incredibly simple, most of the film happens in one room with a small cast of only 12, all focusing on one set plot point: did the accused perpetrate the crime? The simplicity, however, is only superficial. Every single juror in the room has his own story, his own background, that not only explains what lies behind their decision in the vote, but also highlights the overall character of each juror outside the courtroom. There's the father that's slowly but surely grown distant from his only son; there's the foreigner who's just trying to keep a low profile. One juror is timid, another brash, even another cold and calculating. So what seems to be a room full of like-minded people (with a single exception) progresses into one that is filled with arguments, conflict and turmoil. It's within this battlefield of emotions that the film gets its strength. It may be from its theater-inspired atmosphere or the increased focus on argumentative discourse among (quite) intelligent men, but the film is simply magical. Transforming a jury room into a place of almost palpable excitement is no easy task.

Yet this is what Sidney Lumet (director) and Reginald Rose (screenwriter) do with relative ease, squeezing every ounce of character from each juror. As mentioned earlier, this resembles as much a theater piece as it does a movie, lending it a touch of proximity that would otherwise have been impossible to achieve. Together with the brilliant acting, the transformation from the mundane to the fascinating (noteably something that Sidney Lumet achieves later on in Dogday Afternoon) is accomplished. Though some actors play far bigger roles than others (the salesman for instance gets only a few lines), no-one feels out of place or inconsequential. The big fish is of course Henry Fonda, who plays the single dissenter who has the gargantuan job of convincing everyone else to take a few steps back to analyze the situation. Oddly enough, though, his character isn't one of brimming self-confidence and a foolproof plan of execution. He often seems unsure and in fact confirms that feeling on more than one occasion - his desire lies in holding a fair trial, not one that is governed by a unilateral verdict on either side. With every step in the deliberation, he ponders about each piece of evidence, its implication and connection to the murder. Even the viewer can't help but feel that everything points to a guilty verdict for the boy. However, like pieces of a puzzle, juror number 8 puts forth simple truths that had been forgotten in the heat of the moment, not to mention the heat of the day. Thanks to the movie's set-up, even the person watching gets to join in (albeit indirectly), putting things in perspective as the tale goes along. Other great performances include that of E.G. Marshall as a stern pragmatist and Lee J. Cobb as a distraught, obstinate father. Lee is particularly memorable, being one of the most interesting jurors in the room and one you get to know incredibly well as time passes.

Thanks to its mesmerizing script, diverse and talented cast, and contained direction, 12 Angry Men is doubtlessly a classic. In fact, it is one of the prime examples of brilliant filmmaking from its time. Don't doubt whether or not you should see it; the only question is when!
October 12, 2012
Jon J.
Jon Johannesson

Super Reviewer

    1. Juror #8: I just want to talk.
    2. Juror #7: What's there to talk about? Eleven of us think he's guilty. No one had to think about it twice except you.
    – Submitted by Joakim A (6 months ago)
    1. Juror #5: Boy oh boy, it's really hot, huh? Pardon me, but don't you ever sweat?
    2. Juror #4: No, I don't.
    – Submitted by Adam O (12 months ago)
    1. Juror #7: You a Yankee fan?
    2. Juror #5: No, Baltimore.
    3. Juror #7: Baltimore? That's like being hit in the head with a crowbar once a day.
    – Submitted by Adam O (12 months ago)
    1. Juror #10: Oh, listen, I don't see what all this stuff about the knife has got to do with anything. Somebody saw the kid stab his father, what more do we need? You guys can talk the ears right off my head, you know what I mean? I got three garages of mine going to pot while you're talking! So let's get down and get out of here!
    – Submitted by Adam O (12 months ago)
    1. 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.
    2. Juror #4: He did an excellent job.
    – Submitted by Adam O (12 months ago)
    1. Juror #12: Oh, come on. Nobody can know a thing like that. This isn't an exact science.
    – Submitted by Adam O (12 months ago)
View all quotes (19)

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