Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I Heart Jack Klugman ~ 12 Angry Men (1957)

12 Angry Men (1957) is a very ambiguous film and it's open to many interpretations. On one hot summer day in the 1950s, 12 jurors meet in a room to come to a verdict in a murder trial. Everything seems to be going against the teenage boy whose father was stabbed to death with a knife. The evidence is damning and it doesn't help that he's a poor kid from the slums. All of the jurors think the kid's guilty, except for one: Henry Fonda's character Juror #8. They sit in the hot room arguing about the evidence, witness testimony and circumstances. It gets very heated in more ways than one. The final verdict is reached after what seems like a very long time. Was it justice? Was it the result of the frustrations of being in a very hot room for way too long? Was it manipulation? Who knows? And that's the thing. No one ever really knows the truth in circumstances such as these. You just try your very best.

Jack Klugman plays juror #5. He is the third person to change his mind about the verdict. A very shy young man who at first is too nervous to participate but gets worked up when he sees that the other jurors are condemning the teenager because he was raised in a slum. This is when  Juror #5 stands up for himself. He was raised in a slum too. In his first act of bravado he proclaims, "I've lived in a slum all my life. Please! I've played in a backyard filled with garbage. Perhaps you can still smell it on me?" While he doesn't stand out in the pack of 12 like Lee J. Cobb and Henry Fonda do, it is very interesting to watch his transformation from quiet wallflower to active participant. All of these men are very different from each other. They have different temperaments, backgrounds, careers, educations, statues and are all different ages. What's great about this film is to watch how all these different men come together to argue and reason their way to a final verdict.

Next time you watch 12 Angry Men, take a close look at juror #5. Watch how he transforms throughout the film. By the way, Jack Klugman is the last surviving of all the actors in 12 Angry Men. Wouldn't it be grand to sit and listen to his stories about the filming of the movie? One can only dream!

You tell 'em Jack!


  1. I am very fond of this film. I saw it most recently sometime last year, if I'm remembering correctly. Whenever I stumble across it, I watch.

    What a cast.

    Thanks for posting the photos.

    I love Jack Klugman as well.
    I definitely want to read that book about his friendship with Tony Randall.

  2. I think I first saw this one ... in high school! Well, that's one good thing about those years.

    I like how we get to know all of the jurors though you're right, Klugman is especially a treat because he begins so meekly. I have to admit, Lee J. Cobb is my favorite, by no means for what he stands for, but he just gets so damned excited, I get chest pains watching him!

    Loving the Klugman tribute by the way, he's a favorite here, especially for his two very different TV triumphs.

  3. Hi! Sounds like an interesting movie!

  4. Honestly, I think Jack's performance is one of the best in the film. It is so subtle, yet still so powerful. It is so interesting to see him go from the shy guy who doesn't say much to taking up for himself. It's one of my favourite roles he ever played.

  5. 12 Angry men is one hell of an awesome picture and talk about a dream cast! i have found that each time i've seen it i'm able to appreciate the more subtle performers a bit more, like Martin Balsam, E. G. Marshall and of course Jack. they contribute so much and as always are totally believable. Have you ever seen the small clip of Klugman on TCM talking about this film? according to him Ed begley was quite a ladies man but always referred to his various lady friends as his 'nieces' and jack says you never saw a man with so many different beautiful nieces, lol! i remember those potato chip ads Jack and Tony did, must have been shortly after his throat surgery because he didnt speak, but if i recall i read somewhere it was Tony's idea to do the ad spots so Jack could work again.

  6. Thanks for the great post! The photos bring back memories for us of a great film. One of our favorite exchanges during the film is when two jurors exchanged the following words; Bright? He's a common ignorant slob. He don't even speak good English. To which the other replied: "Doesn't" even speak good English. A bit of drama and sarcasm makes for a great film. keep blogging!


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