Oscar Movies: Twelve Angry Men (1957)

(12 Angry Men)

The first motion picture that Sidney Lumet directed was Twelve Angry Men (United Artist), an adaptation of Reginal Rose's play that Lumet had first directed on television.

A uniquely American expose, it tells the story of a murder-trial jury that is balked in its rush to condemnation by a lone dissenter, a thoughtful man of conscience (terrifically played by Henry Fonda), who wins the other eleven jurors over, one by one, to a judgment of not guilty.

The formidable cast includes many character-star actors to be: Jack Warden, Ed Begley, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman, Martin Balsam, and others. In fact, the entire ensemble is excellent, with not even one weak performance. None of the actors was nominated, and the Academy also failed to acknowledge Boris Kaufman's poignant black-and-white cinematography, which was a crucial variable in generating sustained tension, propelling the action forward, and responsible for the strong overall emotional impact.

: 3

Picture, produced by Henry Fonda and Reginald Rose
Director: Sidney Lumet
Screenplay (Adapted): Reginald Rose

Oscar Awards: None

“Bridge on the River Kwai” won in every category it was nominated but Supporting Actor, which went to Red Buttons in “Sayonara.”

Oscar Context

In 1957, “Bridge on the River Kwai” swept most Oscars, though it was not the most nominated picture. That honored was claimed by “Sayonara,” with 10 nominations, and “Peyton Place,” with 9. Like “Angry Men,” the fifth other nominee was also a courtroom drama, Billy Wilder's old-fashioned but well- acted “Witness for the Prosecution.”

Three of the Best Picture nominees, “Peyton Place,” “Twelve Angry Men,” and “Witness for the Prosecution” didn't win any awards.

This was actor Henry Fonda's only credit as producer. Nominated for two Best Actor Oscars, for “The Grapes of Wrath” in 1940 and for “On Golden Pond” in 1971, he won for the latter.