I was thinking today about the movie 12 Angry Men, as I very often do. The title works well – it’s very striking, and it teases the viewer into wondering what twelve men are angry about – but it isn’t really very accurate, is it? At no point in the picture are twelve men angry at once. In fact, many of them never are at all.
With that in mind, I’ve decided to figure out just how many Angry Men actually appear in the movie. In ninety-five minutes of screen time, how many of the characters actually get angry? Let’s examine.
(The closing credits identify which Angry Man is which):
SPOILERS FOLLOW. FOR A 51-YEAR-OLD MOVIE.
Juror #1 (Martin Balsam) – Probably the most affable of the twelve, he tries to get everyone to keep their heads on straight. NOT ANGRY
Juror #2 (John Fielder) – For most of the picture, he’s a meek, polite little man. Eventually, he gets pretty upset that no one takes him seriously and has one memorable outburst. ANGRY
Juror #3 (Lee J. Cobb) – Still distressed over a falling-out with son, he’s pretty mad at everyone about everything. ANGRY
Juror #4 (E. G. Marshall) – He’s the cold, logical one. Even when he raises a passionate argument, he never remotely loses his temper. NOT ANGRY.
Juror #5 (Jack Klugman) – The youngest and most nervous member of the jury, he’s too intimidated to get mad. NOT ANGRY.
Juror #6 (Edward Binns) – A construction worker who seems like a nice fellow. He’s pretty genial throughout. NOT ANGRY.
Juror #7 (Jack Warden) – He couldn’t care less about the trial. He just wants to get to his baseball game, and all this talk of a murder gets him pretty annoyed. ANGRY.
Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) – The voice of reason within the jury, he convinces the others one by one to see things his way. His calm, rational approach is a big help in this regard. NOT ANGRY.
Juror #9 (Joseph Sweeney) – A sweet old gentlemen, he breaks character and yells at #7 after the latter nails him in the head with a crumpled-up piece of paper. I’m going to call it ANGRY.
Juror #10 (Ed Begley, Sr.) – This crazy old racist can’t help but yell about “those people.” ANGRY.
Juror #11 (George Voskovec) – A straight-forward, soft-spoken European immigrant, he gets pretty upset when the validity of his opinions is called into question. ANGRY.
Juror #12 (Robert Webber) – It seems like nothing can cause the smooth-talking ad man to break a sweat. He gets slightly flustered a couple times, but never raises his voice. NOT ANGRY.
So there you go. Six who do and six who don’t. And of the six who do, three are only angry momentarily.
The picture, then, should have been called Three Angry Men, Three Men Who Lose Their Tempers Momentarily and Six Other Guys.
That would have been a much better title.