12 Angry Men Arrives On 4K Ultra HD and The Verdict Is In

12 Angry Men. Courtesy of MGM.

Sidney Lumet’s feature directorial debut, 12 Angry Men, makes its arrival on 4K Ultra HD by way of Kino Lorber Studio Classics.

Before I dive into my review of the film, I want to get some things out of the way regarding the bonus features. William Friedkin’s 1997 remake is the only feature on the Blu-ray disc. The 1957 film is only on the 4K UHD disc. If you also own the Criterion Collection edition, my recommendation is to hold onto it because of the difference in bonus features. Outside of that, 12 Angry Men looks pristine regarding the 4K scan from the original camera negative.

Stage plays are tricky when it comes to bringing them to the big screen. Filmmakers have two options available to them. One is that they can open it up and let the film breathe on its own. The other option is that they can keep to the title’s theatrical roots. Even though this film does not really take place outside of the jury room, it never feels too theatrical. In fact, it feels more thrilling and claustrophobic than anything else. I give great credit to both Lumet and cinematographer Boris Kaufman. Their lensing and framing decisions really add to the claustrophobia and tenseness in the room. Only at the end of the film can we finally breathe as the jury makes their way outside.

It’s a hot summer day and these twelve people are debating the life of a young man. Through it all, Juror #3 (Lee J. Cobb) insists that the defendant is guilty. He is also the final juror to switch from guilty to not guilty. Juror #8, who we learn is Davis (Henry Fonda), is the only juror unconvinced of guilt. With a life on the line, he also has to convince his peers to come over to his side. Fonda is absolutely phenomenal and doesn’t feel theatrical one bit in the performance. In any event, the rest of the jury comes around to #8’s point of view. This even includes Ed Begley’s hateful Juror #10. Everyone in the jury gets their moment but it’s fascinating to watch #11 (George Voskevec), an immigrant, talk of respecting American democracy.

Following its release, 12 Angry Men went onto receive three Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay. And yet, the film did not really do well at the domestic box office upon its initial release. In any event, people have watched the film on TV or home video and it’s had an impact. Take Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, for instance. Without this film, she might not have pursued a career in law. In speaking after a Fordham Law Film Festival screening, she did speak some truth about some of what transpires in the film:

But even as much as she admired the film, Justice Sotomayor, 56, said that when she was a lower-court judge, she would sometimes refer to it to instruct jurors how not to carry out their duties. The film, she said, “is so far from reality,” including in its depiction of some jurors’ behavior.

Back in 1957, their behavior would not have ended with jury misconduct. However, it would certainly be the case today. Another thing is that Fonda’s #8 would never get beyond the security screening while carrying a knife. Would the discussion about glasses go beyond reasonable doubt? Maybe. What we do know is that jurors are not allowed to do such experiments even if it does make for great drama on the screen. One of the best things about the film is that it shows exactly what reasonable doubt means to the American judicial system. Is it likely that juries often make their way from 11-1 guilty to 11-1 not guilty? I don’t know without looking it up. That being said, what I’d like to see is a similar film about a high-profile court case.

To say that Lumet hits it out of the ballpark is not an understatement. In just 96 minutes, audiences sit in on a jury deliberation in real time. Interestingly, nobody wanted to touch Henry Fonda’s initial idea to bring the teleplay to the screen. If not for Fonda producing the film and reaching out to Lumet, who knows what might have happened with Lumet’s career. Unfortunately for Fonda, he would never produce another movie ever again. But still, the film’s impact speaks for itself. How many audience members were inspired to become lawyers after watching the film?

Reginald Rose rewrote his own script for the Friedkin remake but there’s not many differences between the two films. You can see it for yourself as both films are included. One improvement for the Friedkin version is the additional diversity in the cast but the Lumet film is what it is for the late 1950s. Women couldn’t sit on a jury until over a decade later. In all honesty, the lack of diversity is really the film’s biggest fault. It is otherwise representational of the American public aside from this.

12 Angry Men is one of the best courtroom dramas in cinematic history.

Bonus Features


  • Brand New HDR/Dolby Vision Master – From a New 4K Scan of the Original Camera Negative
  • NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historian/Screenwriter Gary Gerani
  • Audio Commentary by Film Historian Drew Casper
  • Triple-Layered UHD100 Disc
  • Optional English Subtitles


  • 12 ANGRY MEN – 1997 Film Directed by William Friedkin and Starring Jack Lemmon
  • BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT: Making of 12 Angry Men
  • INSIDE THE JURY ROOM: Featurette
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Dual-Layered BD50 Disc
  • Optional English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Sidney Lumet
CAST: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley and E.G. Marshall, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, John Fiedler, Jack Klugman, Edward Binns, Joseph Sweeney, George Voskovec, Robert Webber

United Artists released 12 Angry Men in theaters on April 10, 1957. Grade: 5/5

Please subscribe to Solzy at the Movies on Substack.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.