• PG, 1 hr. 35 min.
  • Drama, Classics
  • Directed By:
    Sidney Lumet
    In Theaters:
    Apr 13, 1957 Wide
    On DVD:
    Mar 6, 2001
  • Criterion Collection


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12 Angry Men (Twelve Angry Men) Reviews

Page 1 of 321
Matthew Samuel M

Super Reviewer

August 1, 2014
Exceptionally acted and written, 12 Angry Men is a smart, thrilling classic that keeps the viewer hanging on to every word.

Super Reviewer

February 14, 2013
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.

"It Explodes Like 12 Sticks of Dynamite"

12 Angry Men is a movie of no action, but loads of tension. It finds the tension in differences of opinion, how people were brought up and how they talk, act and think. This is Sidney Lumet's most revered and remembered film, and for good reason. It's one of those rare films that won't leave you, ever. It's powerful and extremely well directed, written and acted.

An 18 year old slum kid is on trial for his life. He is accused of stabbing and killing his father. The 12 men of the jury retire to the jury room and take a vote. With the first vote, 11 of the jurors believe he is guilty and only one isn't sure; he votes not guilty. From there it's arguments and yelling, as Juror #8 tries to prove that you can't prove the boy killed his father.

There's a lot of reasons why this film is so good, but the most obvious one to me, is how simple it happens to be. It's twelve men sitting and walking around a table. They're all different, and the actors who played them couldn't have done a better job. The standouts for me were, obviously, Henry Fonda(one of the best ever) as Juror #8 and Lee J. Cobb who plays Juror #3, and is the exact opposite of Fonda's character.

It's easy to see why this is so often considered among people as one of the best films ever; definitely one of the best American films. 12 Angry Men is one that cannot and should not be missed by any film fan.

Super Reviewer

September 14, 2007
I stylish drama that you fail to appreciate these days. A rarity and a classic in its own right.

Super Reviewer

October 11, 2012
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.
Jon J.
Jon J.

Super Reviewer

September 15, 2012
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!
Carlos M

Super Reviewer

December 28, 2010
An impressive achievement considering it was Lumet's first film, extremely well-written and superbly directed, with many elegant shots and fluid camera movements. Really gripping and audacious, it takes place entirely in a chamber, sustained by a tense, compelling dialogue.

Super Reviewer

December 21, 2006
Sidney Lumet's classic courtroom drama is based upon a very simple premise; a jury is sent to deliberate on a capital murder case and one lone juror stands alone against the other eleven arguing that there is reasonable doubt. Virtually the entire film takes place in the same room and the characters are a deliberate cross section of different personalities from all walks of life. They even remain unnamed for the length of the film. It's basically a tribute to the American justice system and democracy in general; imagine a more high brow version of Frank Capra without the sentimentality. Slightly reminiscent of Rashomon, it exposes the preconceptions and prejudices behind the attitudes of some of the jurors and their refusal to accept the possibility of a juvenile delinquent's innocence and is fascinatingly told as a kind of detective story in reverse, Fonda gradually dismantling the prosecution's case piece by piece. The character's are all really well written, the dialogue taut and the director's skill is consummate as he creates tension and drama without ever leaving the jury room. It's very stagey and occasionally reminded me of a game of musical chairs for that reason and it may be a little subdued for younger tastes used to fast cuts and gratuitous action, but for me this is still the best courtroom drama ever made.
Graham J

Super Reviewer

March 5, 2012
12 Men, one room, maybe the most exciting and powerful hour and a half of film I've ever seen.
familiar s

Super Reviewer

January 24, 2012
Not to deny that it's a remarkable classic and I enjoyed it reasonably despite having watched its remake quite a while ago, but I'd have to admit that it's a downhill trip for the last half hour. Nevertheless, highly recommended by all means.
Pierluigi P

Super Reviewer

November 16, 2011
A lesson in cinema and justice.
Alexander D

Super Reviewer

September 9, 2011
Courtroom drama puts a dozen infuriated men in a room together, allows them to factually (and, sometimes, not so factually) bicker about whether or not an eighteen-year-old by is guilty for stabbing his father to death. The film starts off with eleven voting guilty and one voting not guilty (all jurors names are avoided), while the rest of the film entails the singled-out juror encouraging the other eleven to see the facts beyond the simple, "It was a murder, the kid is guilty."

I'm no film-noir fanatic, so you can look at this review as either less predictable or more critical than it should be. The first thirty minutes or so of 12 ANGRY MEN were boring, but if a viewer skipped them, then he or she would not understand one bit of the rest. The last ten to twenty minutes are the best, but then again, if one were to go right to that scene on YouTube, per se, he or she would not understand the brilliance I am referring to. You see, you have to watch ALL of this film to comprehend the marvelousness of it. It's not like there's one big landmark scene that you can watch and love; nothing like the final dance from DIRTY DANCING, or the axe-wielding scene from THE SHINING, for instance.

If there's one film that makes me want to watch more Henry Fonda films, it's 12 ANGRY MEN. His (mostly) unnamed role is superior, and it stands out above all the other characters, especially that silly old guy who reminds us now of Alan Arkin's character LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, always going off on tangents (on a murder case!?) and making jokes. (Eventually, though, he turns what seems like a bizarre tangent into something creates a unanimous vote, making him a significant character, thank goodness.) Oh, look, that was a tangent itself! Heh. Great film, anyway.

Super Reviewer

October 1, 2010
12 Angry Men is a film with a basic idea that turns into a complex, dialogue-ridden feature film that will have you on the edge of your seat for the full 90 minutes that this brilliant classic surely embraces. Henry Fonda leads a debate with a 12 manned jury on the case of whether or not an 18 year-old boy is guilty of murdering his father. Taking place after a courtroom session, these men "angrily" reflect on the statements made by the accused and the defendants as they fight until the bitter end when all the possible facts are on the table. I was pulled into this amazing film and I felt what every man had to say as they made critical points that will make you go back and forth, never truly knowing which side to take, even though you may have a good idea! This classic is one of the smartest written films I have ever seen! 12 Angry Men is magnificent!
Liam G

Super Reviewer

June 18, 2011
Incredibly engaging drama with stunning performances all round. A great achievement in filmmaking from the late Sidney Lumet.

Super Reviewer

August 12, 2010
Breathtaking filmmaking. Full review later.

Super Reviewer

October 17, 2010
Stunning film! The fact that this film takes place entirely in a jury room but still delivers, is incredible. Sidney Lumet brilliantly directed this masterpiece; I doubt that any director could replicate the greatness in this film, today.
Fernando Rafael Q

Super Reviewer

July 16, 2007
Even though it's slightly dated and starts to feel just a tad contrived towards the end, 12 Angry Men is nevertheless riveting and, most importantly, smart. The fantastic script by Reginald Rose is matched in its intensity by a remarkable cast, where Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Jack Warden and Ed Begley stand out.

Super Reviewer

September 5, 2010
This movie is fantastic, it's suspenseful, dramatic, and very intense. This film is a classic, and the best court drama I've ever seen.
Jay H

Super Reviewer

July 30, 2010
This classic easily goes down, along with "The Shawshank Redemption" (1994), as my favorite film of all time. This is perhaps the most important film to a modern judicial system, and is required viewing for anyone who wishes to call themselves a proper and good citizen of any free nation.
Alice S

Super Reviewer

July 10, 2010
Every juror is illustrated so specifically. They're all types but completely fleshed out - each with their own demons and prejudices. However, the older I get, the more cynical I get about what I take away from the film. What if they WERE sunglasses? What if the woman had been reading in bed because she couldn't sleep? What if the boy just grabbed the knife overhanded because he obviously wasn't getting into a knife fight? This whole movie is a must-happen - a gloriously-paced must-happen but...

I want to marry a man who looks like Henry Fonda. Not fall in love with a man like Henry Fonda. Marry a man who looks like Henry Fonda.
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