From television, to stage, to the big screen, Zach examines the film 12 Angry Men.

12 Angry Men is a 1957 American drama film adapted from a teleplay of the same name by Reginald Rose.[4][5] Written and co-produced by Rose himself and directed by Sidney Lumet, this trial film tells the story of a jury made up of 12 men as they deliberate the guilt or acquittal of a defendant on the basis of reasonable doubt. In the United States, a verdict in most criminal trials by jury must be unanimous. The film is notable for its almost exclusive use of one set: with the exception of the film’s opening, which begins outside on the steps of the courthouse followed by the judge’s final instructions to the jury before retiring, a brief final scene on the courthouse steps, and two short scenes in an adjoining washroom, the entire movie takes place in the jury room. The total time spent outside the jury room is three minutes out of the full 96 minutes of the movie.

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The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

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10 Comments

  1. Stephen Fogarty
    October 24, 2014 at 11:59 am — Reply

    Really great discussion and podcast as always

  2. J Michael T
    October 24, 2014 at 6:17 pm — Reply

    This may be my favorite movie on this series. I had never watched it until tonight. I really got into it emotionally. Thanks for introducing me to this one!

  3. John I.G.
    October 26, 2014 at 6:37 am — Reply

    The conversion is pretty interesting actually, there’s 2 actors from the original tv show that were in the first production of the play as well in the movie:
    – Joseph Sweeney – The old man
    – George Voscovec – The immigrant

    But I’d say in response to Stephen’s problem with the movie being an almost literal adaptation of the tv show, I’d have a small rebuttal. In a piece as small as this, every piece matters, and when you go back and watch the original tv version, some things are very noticeable. The first is that the script is almost literally the same, and the introduction in the court-room is practically identitcal. From there on out (and aside from the 2 same actors) almost every aspect that matters is different.

    The things that matter in such a small production, is the script, the performances, the camera angles and the setting. The script is the same, yes, but the performances of each character are so much less subtle. Looking at Juror #8 especially, Henry Fonda is almost tortured over the decision, whereas his counter-part on the tv show, Robert Cummings, doesn’t do a bad job, but he’s just the embodiment of righteousness, there’s very little personal conflict in him.

    The camera, as you guys mentioned, is amazing in the movie, in the tv show, you notice how missing it is, so much of the show just moves along at a break-neck pace, hardly gives the actors the time to breath, or the audience to separate out characters from one another. Moments where we hear the door lock, or the knives thrown into the table, we’re expected more to rely on what the characters say, than the zoomed-out visual accompaniment. So much is shown in the movie, whereas in the tv version they mostly rely on it being told.

    Lastly the setting. In the tv show you notice the room is set-up slightly differently, but the biggest difference is how big the room feels. This is augmented by the high-up locations the camera takes, but the room in the movie version feels claustrophobic, like there’s hardly anywhere to turn without running into someone else or a wall. It feels hot and sticky, the actor’s sweaty, handkerchief-wiping performances helping that along. The tv show, makes reference to the heat, and the camera re-creates some of the claustrophobia at times, but even when the camera is in among the actors, the walls feel ages away.

    Everything of matter except the 2 actors and the script (and I think it even has additions) is different, so saying this is a simple conversion from the one format to the other with more well-known (to be) actors is a gross over-simplification.

    • John I.G.
      October 26, 2014 at 6:52 am — Reply

      On the script differences, in the tv version they don’t have the interlude with the fan, the woman with the glasses actually has glasses during the court in the tv show, and the last man to give in is just ornery (there’s no picture of the son) or any reference to his past. A lot of lines that are spread around the cast in the movie are also given to Juror #8 directly.

      • John I.G.
        October 26, 2014 at 7:12 am — Reply

        Actually having just watched the old version, and then starting up the 1957 version again, I realise the general points they cover are pretty similar especially the moments of conflict, but actually a LOT of the script is different too, they give a lot more detail and attention to each point, the movie tickets are added in the movie version too, the whole setup at the start of the movie is almost completely omitted in the tv version.
        Coming back into the movie too, you can look at the cast of characters and recall what each and every one of their roles is. Whereas in the tv version their roles are much muddier and less clear, even the old man and the immigrant are much more strongly positioned in the movie.

        Basic setup, basic plot-points, but almost everything is different.

  4. John I.G.
    October 26, 2014 at 7:00 am — Reply

    Also both movies are on Youtube:
    Westinghouse TV Version 1954: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkGeAels8DU
    Movie Version 1957: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzPll63y2b0

  5. Ka.tet.eld
    October 27, 2014 at 11:16 am — Reply

    I love this podcast. The generational gaps between the four of you really help to solidify the discussions for these films and keep the points relevant in so many different ways.

    I was wondering if any of you had seen the version made for, I think HBO, in the 90’s. I figured either you all hadn’t seen it or decided not to discuss it in the episode. The Peter Fonda role is played by an older Jack Lemmon, who as always knocks the role out of the park.

    Further, this version did not add any females to the cast, but they did add some serious race decisions to the casting. The Jury Foreman is played by Courtney B. Vance, Ossie Davis plays the older man, Edward James Olmos plays Jurror #11 (an inspired performance), and Tony Danza plays the Juror with the baseball tickets.

    Finally George C Scott plays Juror #3, and has an amazing breakdown scene. Watching Lemmon and Scott work together is a wonderful experience. If you haven’t watched this version, I strongly suggest doing so. It addresses a lot of the concepts you all discussed in this episode. Such as, “how would this script play out if you added some more races than just white guys?” (paraphrased I know).

    Anyways, great episode. This movie/ play is one of my favorites, it was great to hear an intelligent discussion.

    Thanks,

  6. Russell Catt
    November 7, 2014 at 9:39 am — Reply

    This was a really great discussion.
    My first viewing of this was actually a made for tv version from 1997.
    It was equally gripping but had a much different tone because it was a more diversified cast.
    Here were the differences:

    1957 Juror number 1997
    Martin Balsam 1 Courtney B. Vance
    John Fiedler 2 Ossie Davis
    Lee J. Cobb 3 George C. Scott
    E.G. Marshall 4 Armin Mueller-Stahl
    Jack Klugman 5 Dorian Harewood
    Edward Binns 6 James Gandolfini
    Jack Warden 7 Tony Danza
    Henry Fonda 8 Jack Lemmon
    Joseph Sweeney 9 Hume Cronyn
    Ed Begley 10 Mykelti Williamson
    George Voskovec 11 Edward James Olmos
    Robert Webber 12 William Petersen

    I would really recommend tracking down the 1997 version. It’s a real treat.

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