12 Angry Men (1957) Poster



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At the beginning of the film, the cameras are all positioned above eye level and mounted with wide-angle lenses to give the appearance of greater distance between the subjects. As the film progresses the cameras slip down to eye level. By the end of the film, nearly all of it is shot below eye level, in close-up and with telephoto lenses to increase the encroaching sense of claustrophobia.
The ethnic background of the teen-aged suspect in the film was deliberately left unstated. For the purposes of the film, the important facts were that he was NOT Caucasian and that prejudice (or lack of it) from some jurors would be a major part of the deliberations process.
Sidney Lumet had the actors all stay in the same room for hours on end and do their lines over and over without taping 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.
The movie is commonly used in business schools and workshops to illustrate team dynamics and conflict resolution techniques.
Henry Fonda disliked watching himself on film, so he did not watch the whole film in the projection room. But before he walked out he said quietly to director Sidney Lumet, "Sidney, it's magnificent."
As shooting of the film went on, director Sidney Lumet gradually changed to lenses of longer focal lengths, so that the backgrounds seemed to close in on the characters, creating a greater feeling of claustrophobia.
As the film failed to make a profit, Henry Fonda never received his deferred salary. Despite this setback, Fonda always regarded 12 Angry Men (1957) as one of the three best films he ever made, the other two being The Grapes of Wrath (1940) and The Ox-Bow Incident (1943).
Henry Fonda immediately complained to Sidney Lumet about the cheap backdrops outside the jury room windows when he walked on set. "They look like shit. Hitch had great backdrops, you could walk right in them," said Fonda, referring to the previous film he made with Alfred Hitchcock, The Wrong Man (1956). Lumet assured him that the director of photography Boris Kaufman had a plan to make them work.
With the deaths of Jack Warden (Juror #7) on July 19, 2006 and Jack Klugman (Juror #5) on December 24, 2012, none of the twelve stars of 12 Angry Men (1957) are still alive.
Shot in a total of 365 separate takes.
Nominated for 3 Oscars, the film lost out in all its categories to The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957).
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.
Because the painstaking rehearsals for the film lasted an exhausting two weeks, filming had to be completed in an unprecedented 21 days.
[June 2008] Ranked #2 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Courtroom Drama".
Lee J. Cobb's character insults Juror #12 by calling him "The Boy in the Gray Flannel Suit." One year before the release of 12 Angry Men (1957) Cobb starred in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956), which also featured Joseph Sweeney (Juror #9).
All but three minutes of the film was shot inside the bare and confining, sixteen by twenty-four foot "jury room".
Only two jurors are ever identified by name: #8 Mr. Davis and #9 Mr. McCardle. And all but two are identified by job or profession: #1 High School Football Coach, #2 Bank Teller, #3 Owns Messenger Service, #4 Stock Broker, #6 Painter, #7 Salesman, #8 Architect, #10 Garage Owner, #11 Watch Maker, and #12 Advertising Exec.
Henry Fonda, who symbolically wears white throughout the film, personally asked Sidney Lumet to direct the movie adaptation, having been impressed with his work on the TV shows Studio One in Hollywood (1948) and The Alcoa Hour (1955).
Henry Fonda was asked by United Artists to make this film, so he did it as both actor and producer. He was, however, very frustrated at being producer and decided never to do so again.
First theatrical film directed by Sidney Lumet.
Reginald Rose's TV play script was left virtually intact in its move to feature film.
The "unusual-looking knife" in this movie is an Italian stiletto switchblade with a Filipino-style Kriss blade.
When first broadcast as a teleplay on TV's "Studio One" on 20 September 1954, the jurors were Norman Fell, John Beal, Franchot Tone, Walter Abel, Lee Philips, Bart Burns, Paul Hartman, Robert Cummings, Joseph Sweeney, Edward Arnold, George Voskovec, Will West. Joseph Sweeney and George Voskovec were the only two actors to reprise their roles for the film.
The movies mentioned by Juror #4 in the double feature he saw are "The Scarlett Circle" and "The Amazing Mrs. Bainbridge" (wrongly named by him as "The Remarkable Mrs. Bainbridge"). Neither of them exist.
For many years, only the first half of the kinescope of the TV version of "Twelve Angry Men" broadcast live on Sept. 20, 1954 (Studio One in Hollywood: Twelve Angry Men (1954)) was thought to survive, and had been in the possession of the Museum of Television and Radio since 1976. In 2003 a complete 16mm kinescope was discovered in the collection of Samuel Leibowitz (former defense attorney and judge) and was also acquired by the museum.
There are no female characters whatsoever in the film, aside from the extras seen in the courtroom in the prologue.
The melody juror #7 whistles before juror #8's reenactment of the handicapped man walking to the door is "Dance of the cuckoos", which is also the theme song for the "Laurel & Hardy" series.
When John Calley was running United Artists pictures between 1993 and 1996, he gave an interview to "The New Yorker" where he discussed UA's continuing rights to the project, and said he had looked into a possible remake that would have starred Michelle Pfeiffer and been set around the 1992 Los Angeles riots in the aftermath of the Rodney King trial verdicts.
Juror #7 looks at his watch a total of 28 times throughout the whole movie.
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Most of the hard-working (relatively inexperienced) crew were longshoremen. Because there wasn't enough movie work to feed them all year, they'd have two union cards: their Local 52 cards and their ILA cards.
In 12 Angry Men (1997) Lee J. Cobb's character was played by George C. Scott. Making it the second time Scott followed Cobb in portraying the same character. He did it previously, playing the character of "Lt. Kinderman" in The Exorcist III (1990), the same character Cobb played in the original film The Exorcist (1973).
Jack Lemmon appears in Mister Roberts (1955) with Henry Fonda, in which he takes over Fonda's position of Cargo Officer when Fonda is transferred off the USS Reluctant. In the 1997 remake 12 Angry Men (1997), Lemmon plays the same juror that Fonda played in the original 12 Angry Men (1957).
The TV Western Maverick adapted the story for the 1958 episode "Rope of Cards" starring James Garner.
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In 1957, United Artists distributed this film on a double bill with 5 Steps to Danger (1957) starring Ruth Roman and Sterling Hayden.
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When Juror #10 (Ed Begley) starts a speech about the ethnic group of the defendant, the jurors that stand up from the table rejecting the speech are (in order): Juror #5 (Jack Klugman), Juror #9 (Joseph Sweeney), Juror #11 (George Voskovec), Juror #8 (Henry Fonda), Juror #2 (John Fiedler), Juror #6 (Edward Binns), The Foreman (Martin Balsam) and Juror #12 (Robert Webber). Juror #3 (Lee J. Cobb) was standing up before the speech. Juror #7 (Jack Warden) and Juror #4 (E.G. Marshall) are the only ones who remain seated. Meanwhile Juror #7 turning his head looking to other side, Juror #4 looks Juror #10 all the time, finally ordering him to shut up.
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There are three jurors with glasses: Juror #12 removes his glasses from the nose six times, Juror #4 removes it one time, and Juror #2 never removes his glasses.
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The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The jurors who believe the boy to be not guilty in order are: Juror #8 (Henry Fonda), Juror #9 (Joseph Sweeney), Juror #5 (Jack Klugman), Juror #11 (George Voskovec), Juror # 2(John Fiedler), Juror #6 (Edward Binns), Juror #7 (Jack Warden), Juror #12 (Robert Webber), The Foreman (Martin Balsam), Juror #10 (Ed Begley), Juror #4 (E.G. Marshall), and finally Juror #3 (Lee J. Cobb)
The jurors entrance into the jury room is filmed in an overhead establishing shot, and the shots become progressively lower and tighter throughout the film, until the verdict is reached. For the closing shot of the jurors leaving the courthouse they are again filmed from a wide, overhead angle. Sidney Lumet claimed that the final shot was filmed through with the widest lens used in the picture, emphasizing the sense of release from the jury room.
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Along the movie, number 3 appears several times: the three first minutes of the movie are the only ones not happened in the jury room; the court room where the trial happens is the 228 (2+2+8 = 12; 1+2 = 3); Juror #8 affirms to have three children; at a point Juror #7 orders shut up to other juror under the pretext that as jurors they have a salary of three dollars per day; in other point Juror 6# comments that he was three days painting a house; Juror #4 explains that between the crime happened three months before the trial; and finally Juror #3 is who confronts Juror #8 against the innocence of the accused along the movie.

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