“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. I don’t really know what the truth is. I don’t suppose anybody will ever really know.”
– Juror #8
Here’s what I wrote about 12 Angry Men back in my review of the Criterion Collection Blu-ray in November of 2011:
“What’s there to say? Based on the teleplay by Reginald Rose, Sidney Lumet’s landmark 1957 marvel 12 Angry Men is one of the most iconic and influential motion pictures ever made. How many have paid it homage? How many other films and television programs have openly ‘borrowed’ from this plot? The list is endless, Lumet delivering a timeless piece of cinematic brilliance that more than lives up to its reputation.
You know the story even if you’ve never seen the film. Henry Fonda attempts to convince his fellow jury mates to take a moment to consider the evidence and spend some time deliberating before determining the fate of a teenager accused by the prosecution of murdering his father with a switchblade. One by one they begin to come around to the idea the lad might be innocent, retrying the case as they analyze the evidence from every angle.
Fonda is magnificent. His powerful performance is a constant revelation. He’s always poking, always prodding, always forcing his 11 mates onward whether they want to keep looking at the evidence or not. As good as the two-time Academy Award-winner had been before this and would be afterward, as unforgettable as performances in Once Upon a Time in the West, On Golden Pond, Fail Safe and 3:10 to Yuma are, this might be his best work, and from the first moment something is going on behind Fonda’s calmly endearing façade that speaks volumes.
The rest of the cast, almost all of whom were relative unknowns at the time of release but would pretty much all become stars later on, is equally up to the challenge. Martin Balsam, Jack Warden, Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman, Ed Begley, even John Fielder, Edward Binns, Robert Webber and especially George Voskovec; each work in perfect symmetry with the man next to them like a ticking clock. All are extraordinary.
For a one-room drama, Lumet delivers a picture that’s beautifully photographed by the great Boris Kaufman. The layers contained within his black and white cinematography are stunning, Kaufman always making certain there is something of interest going on within the frame at all times. You feel the tension and the angst, the whirlwind of emotions passing between these 12 men transferred to the audience with pinpoint precision.
There’s a reason Lumet became a Hollywood wunderkind known for dramas overflowing in labyrinthine emotions other filmmakers were afraid to touch. From Dog Day Afternoon to Network, The Verdict to Before the Devil Knows Your Dead, The Hill to Q&A, the director intimately understood the complexities of the human condition. 12 Angry Men showcases that skill arguably better than almost any of his subsequent efforts, and as such it remains an unequaled classic that will continue to fascinate audiences for generations to come.”
Yep. Still perfect. This movie remains tremendous.
12 Angry Men is presented on a 4K (2160p) Ultra HD disc with a 1.85:1 1080p transfer.
This 4K Ultra HD disc features a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono soundtrack along with English SDH subtitles.
The extras are split between the 4K Ultra-HD disc and an additional Blu-ray disc. Please note, the Blu-ray does not include Lumet’s film. Instead, it offers up a plethora of bonus features as well as the HD debut of director William Friedkin’s star-studded 1997 television remake.
4K ULTRA HD DISC
2023 Audio Commentary with critic, author and filmmaker Gary Gerani (Romantic Mysticism: The Music of Billy Goldenberg)
2008 Audio Commentary with film historian Drew Casper
12 Angry Men (1997)
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: Making 12 Angry Men featurette
Inside the Jury Room featurette
Original Theatrical Trailer – 12 Angry Men (1957)
Original Trailer – 12 Angry Men (1997)
Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men remains a masterpiece. Nothing similar has ever come close to equaling this crackerjack drama, the film’s power to shock, educate, and entertain as strong now as it ever was back in 1957. Kino’s 4K presentation – in native 4K – is immaculate, and as such this disc comes highly recommended. Add it to the physical media library immediately.