Are you a fan of classic movies that stand the test of time? Look no further than “12 Angry Men” (1957), a film that continues to captivate audiences over six decades later. Directed by Sidney Lumet and featuring an all-star cast including Martin Balsam, John Fiedler, and Lee J. Cobb, this courtroom drama will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end. In this movie review, we’ll dive into why “12 Angry Men” remains an iconic piece of cinema history and explore its enduring themes and symbols.

Plot Summary

“12 Angry Men” is a classic courtroom drama that takes place in the confines of the jury room. The film follows 12 jurors as they deliberate on whether or not to convict an 18-year-old boy from slum background of murdering his father with a switchblade knife.

At first, most of the jurors are convinced of the defendant’s guilt based on circumstantial evidence and personal prejudices. However, one juror (played by Henry Fonda) begins to question their assumptions and urges them to consider all aspects of the case before making a decision.

Photo: 12 Angry Men (1957)

As deliberations progress, tensions rise amongst the jurors as they grapple with conflicting opinions and emotions. Some reveal biases rooted in racism, classism, or personal experiences that could influence their verdict.

The plot unfolds slowly but steadily as we learn more about each character’s background and motivations. As time ticks down for them to reach a unanimous decision before declaring a hung jury, viewers watch anxiously as this diverse group struggles towards justice amidst heated debate until finally arriving at an unexpected conclusion – but you’ll have to see it yourself!

Critical Analysis

12 Angry Men is a timeless classic that has stood the test of time. It’s an intense courtroom drama that delves into the complexities of human behavior, prejudice and justice. The film was directed by Sidney Lumet and written by Reginald Rose. It features an ensemble cast including Martin Balsam, John Fiedler and Lee J. Cobb.

The plot follows twelve jurors who are tasked with deciding whether to convict or acquit a young man accused of murder. As they deliberate in a small jury room, tensions run high as personal biases and preconceived notions come to light.

Photo: 12 Angry Men (1957)

One of the most impressive aspects of 12 Angry Men is its ability to maintain tension throughout the entire film despite being set in one location with minimal action taking place on screen. This is due in large part to the excellent performances from all twelve actors.

Another fascinating aspect of this film lies in its exploration of prejudice and bias within society. Each juror brings their own experiences, beliefs and prejudices which influence their decision-making process. The film highlights how difficult it can be for individuals to put aside their personal biases in order to make fair decisions based solely on evidence presented.

Overall, 12 Angry Men remains an enduring masterpiece that continues to captivate audiences today just as much as it did upon its release over six decades ago.

Themes and Symbols

One of the most significant themes in 12 Angry Men is the concept of justice. The movie challenges its viewers to consider what true justice entails and how it can be achieved. The film also highlights different perceptions of morality and ethics, as each juror brings their own perspective on these issues.

Another important theme is prejudice, which manifests in various forms throughout the movie. Juror 10 (Ed Begley) exhibits racial bias against the defendant and displays his prejudices towards people from lower economic backgrounds. Meanwhile, Juror 3 (Lee J. Cobb) allows his personal experiences with his estranged son to cloud his judgment and influence his decision-making process.

Watch 12 Angry Men (1957) Officail Trailer

The symbolism in the film is subtle but powerful, adding an extra layer of meaning to certain scenes. For example, when Juror 8 (Henry Fonda) turns off the fan in the room during a heated debate amongst jurors, it symbolizes him trying to bring clarity amidst confusion and chaos.

Similarly, when Juror 4 (E.G Marshall) removes his glasses before delivering a decisive argument for acquitting the defendant represents him taking off any biases or preconceived notions he may have held earlier about the case.

Photo: 12 Angry Men (1957)

Themes & Symbols are crucial aspects that make this classic courtroom drama stand out even after more than six decades since its release.

Historical Context

The historical context of 12 Angry Men is an intriguing one. The movie was released in 1957, during the height of the civil rights movement in America. This was a time when racial discrimination and prejudice were rampant, and the struggle for equal rights was at its peak.

It’s important to note that this film does not directly address issues of race or ethnicity, but it does touch on themes such as prejudice and stereotyping. These ideas were prevalent in society at large during this era and are still relevant today.

Photo: 12 Angry Men (1957)

Another aspect of the historical context worth examining is how technology has changed our justice system since the release of 12 Angry Men. In today’s world, DNA evidence can prove innocence or guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. However, back then, juries had to rely solely on verbal arguments from lawyers and witnesses.

Understanding the cultural climate surrounding this film helps us appreciate its message even more deeply. It reminds us that although we’ve come a long way as a society since then, there are still persistent issues with bias and inequality that we must continue to work towards resolving.

Production Details

The production of 12 Angry Men was a low-budget affair, with the majority of the film taking place in one room. The budget constraints meant that director Sidney Lumet had to get creative with his shots and angles to keep audiences engaged.

One interesting aspect of the production is that Lumet chose to shoot most of the film using wide-angle lenses. This allowed him to capture multiple characters in frame at once, highlighting their interactions and dynamics.

Photo: 12 Angry Men (1957)

The cast consisted mainly of character actors, including Martin Balsam, John Fiedler, and Lee J. Cobb. Each actor brought their own unique style and energy to their role, helping bring the script’s dialogue-driven story to life.

Interestingly enough, Lumet insisted on shooting chronologically so that each actor could experience the same emotional journey as their character throughout filming. This approach helped create an authentic sense of tension and conflict among the jurors as they debated whether or not to convict.

Despite its low budget and simple setting, 12 Angry Men’s production proved innovative in its use of camera techniques and dedication to authenticity through chronological shooting.

Release and Reception

Upon its release in 1957, “12 Angry Men” was met with critical acclaim and went on to become a classic of American cinema. The film’s low budget meant that it did not receive widespread distribution upon release, but strong word-of-mouth led to steady box office returns.

Critics praised the film for its tense atmosphere, tight script, and powerful performances from its ensemble cast. Martin Balsam, John Fiedler, Lee J. Cobb, and the rest of the actors brought depth and nuance to their roles as jurors struggling with their own biases and prejudices.

Photo: Photo: 12 Angry Men (1957)

Director Sidney Lumet’s use of close-ups and camera angles added an extra layer of tension to the proceedings. By focusing on the faces of each juror as they deliberated over the fate of a young man accused of murder, Lumet emphasized how high-stakes these discussions truly were.

Over time, “12 Angry Men” has only grown more beloved by audiences and critics alike. Its themes about justice and prejudice continue to resonate today, making it a timeless piece of filmmaking that will likely endure for generations to come.


In conclusion, 12 Angry Men is a timeless classic that still holds up to this day. It’s a masterclass in writing, directing and acting that has influenced countless movies since its release. The movie brilliantly portrays the struggles of the American justice system and how prejudices can cloud our judgment.

The performances by Martin Balsam, John Fiedler, Lee J. Cobb and the rest of the cast are unforgettable. Sidney Lumet’s direction is impeccable as he keeps you engaged with just one setting for an entire film.

Photo: 12 Angry Men (1957)

The themes of truth, justice and fairness are still relevant today and will continue to be so for years to come. This movie teaches us an important lesson about standing up for what we believe in even if it goes against popular opinion.

If you haven’t seen 12 Angry Men yet, I highly recommend giving it a watch. You won’t regret it!

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