Get the verdict on where to watch 12 Angry Men, the classic 1957 film about a murder case that seems straightforward until jury deliberations begin.
Based on a television play by Reginald Rose, 12 Angry Men serves as Sidney’s Lumet debut film and remains one of the most revered courtroom dramas ever made along with the 1962 To Kill a Mockingbird starring Gregory Peck. Almost all of the 95-minute film takes place in a hot and stuffy New York City jury room, where an ethnic teenager is accused of stabbing his father to death. An initial vote reveals that all but one of the jurors are ready to convict the accused and send him to the electric chair. However, in a standout performance by Henry Fonda, Juror eight eventually convinces the other men in the room that a capital murder case merits a longer discussion, and as the often heated deliberations unfold, enough reasonable doubt is raised to reach a unanimous not guilty verdict. 12 Angry Men was nominated for three Academy Awards winning none, and overshadowed by more elaborate technicolor productions of the day, the black and white film did not initially achieve the recognition it has today. Still, the film propelled the directing career of Lumet, and he would go on to make other popular films including Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, and Network.
You can experience the intense jury room drama for yourself, and watch 12 Angry Men streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.
How Juror 8 Complicated An Open And Shut Case
If most of the jurors had their way, 12 Angry Men may have been more of a short film than feature-length production. Juror number eight, played by Henry Fonda, delays the unanimous guilty verdict by imploring the other jurors not to make their decisions without considering all the evidence presented during the trial. Juror eight had purchased a switchblade knife identical to the supposed murder weapon days before the deliberations began, casting doubt that the murderer’s weapon was unique as prosecutors claimed. It doesn’t take his pragmatic approach to the case long to influence other jurors, and in the 2nd vote, the eldest juror, number nine, changes his vote to not guilty in the 2nd poll. Gradually more jurors raise the possibility that the testimony presented during the case may be flawed. Juror eight then conducts a timed experiment in the deliberation room proving that the elderly downstairs neighbor could not have made it to his door in time to see the accused running down the stairs, as he testified. Juror two, played by John Fiedler, then calls into question the fact that the shorter suspect could not possibly have inflicted a knife wound at the angle shown in the evidence since his father was much taller.
During the often contentious deliberations in 12 Angry Men, it becomes apparent that each juror has their own motivations and prejudices that guide their guilty or not guilty votes. Jack Warden’s Juror seven wants to finish deciding the case as soon as possible, so he can watch a ballgame, and he is easily swayed to endorse the new majority opinion. In perhaps the most dramatic moment of the film, Juror 10, enraged at the other men changing their votes, puts his racial prejudices on full display claiming that someone sharing the suspect’s ethnicity is prone to violence and lying. The rest of the men are so horrified that they each stand up and turn their backs on Juror 10, played convincingly by Ed Begley. Juror three is the final holdout to the not-guilty verdict, and it becomes obvious that his troubled relationship with his own son is interfering with his objectivity in the case. Lee J. Cobb’s Juror three finally gives in, as he tears up a photograph of his son and sobs.
Where To Watch 12 Angry Men
12 Angry Men stands the test of time as jurors today can still interpret the same evidence very differently based on their prejudices that manage to make it through the selection process. You can stream 12 Angry Men today on Amazon Prime Video, and decide for yourself if the jury came to the correct conclusion.