Fanned On

It takes less than 90-minutes for each of 12 Angry Men’s jurors to reveal their true selves. Juror 8 (Henry Fonda) masterfully instills doubt into what’s a sure murder conviction against an 18-year-old boy, and via his work, exposes the reality behind the jury’s initial 11-to-1 guilty verdict.

Modern statement cinema needs to follow 12 Angry Men’s lead, exposing bigots and bigotry through their own words, not a direct dialog. It’s never subtle, but the characters themselves never realize as such, assuming everyone – meaning the all-white male jury – feels the same about an immigrant’s child. “He don’t even speak English good,” says one, utterly oblivious to the self-defeating irony created. “I’m sick and tired of facts,” yells another, stinging with a message that carries more relevance today than in 1957.

Modern statement cinema needs to follow 12 Angry Men’s lead

In its most profound moment, a juror stands to state his opinion, effortlessly inserting words like, “them,” when describing the accused, as if, again, everyone supposedly knows that reference. They do, in this case, then turn their backs to the blatant, spiteful racism. 12 Angry Men, in showing the justice system’s inherent weakness, exposes a wider fault in social order, all in an expertly composed and lensed single room.

Henry Fonda becomes the obvious hero in standing up for this kid, but 12 Angry Men is designed around the ardent holdouts, growing sweatier and furious as the numbers begin to reverse. It’s not guilt they see, but a poor kid growing up in slums who is conditioned to act this way. They say as such, then accuse others of being bleeding hearts. “It’s these kids. It’s how they are these days,” says one, casually using “they” as a descriptor, and remaining oblivious that all generations see a similar culture shift they won’t understand.

There’s also a masculine side, these middle age or older men viewing submissiveness as proper, to control others as the male purpose. Coming not long after World War II, no doubt these men likely served and were trained to submit. Their frustrations, that first a kid dare talk back to his father, and second he’s not white, boil over. The case never matters to them, nor the facts as presented. It’s about getting their way, refusing to concede because they might appear weak, or their wrongly held beliefs would crumble in such a reality. Juror 8’s ability to calmly, slowly dismantle hatred is textbook, and the confined room forces them to defend their racism.


Kino delivers for 12 Angry Men’s UHD debut, choosing Dolby Vision to amplify the resulting images. Generous gray scale and black levels dole out natural dimension in droves. This isn’t a case for maximum brightness, rather gorgeously organic contrast that never feels as if pushing boundaries unnecessarily.

Crisp and clear, sharpness reveals incredible definition. Texture in the sweaty close-ups astounds, even after seeing numerous catalog titles from this era looking equally great. Encoding handles a stiff, consistent grain structure that never once suggests digitization. It’s possible to pick up corduroy suit texture even at a distance through the organic film grain; it’s remarkable.


DTS-HD mono services the simple material well. Dialog doesn’t reveal any age through defects like static or harshness. It’s clear, with as much range as something this vintage can produce. The score reaches a clean crescendo.


Kino doubles up on commentaries, with two film historians earning their own tracks. First is Gary Gerani, the second Drew Casper. The Blu-ray holds the rest. A making of and featurette comes first on that disc, and Kino also includes the 12 Angry Men TV remake from 1997 on Blu-ray.

12 Angry Men
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  • Audio
  • Extras


Brilliant material gives 12 Angry Men timeless purpose to its cause for justice, and the performances only strengthen the case.

User Review
5 (3 votes)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 39 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:

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