This Sunday, the UCLA Film & Television Archive will screen 12 Angry Men (1957) as the final film in its series, Golden Age Television Writers on the Big Screen, co-presented by the Writers Guild Foundation. Reginald Rose‘s brilliant screenplay, first written for television in 1954, dramatizes the deliberations of a jury whose members are asked to decide the fate of an underprivileged teenager accused of murdering his father. Some of the jurors are hateful and bigoted, others are just bored, thoughtless, or intimidated, but almost all of them are willing to declare the young man guilty based on their own prejudices, fears, or indifference. The facts of the case are examined only because one of the men, Juror # 8 (Henry Fonda), is willing to stand alone and demand that the jury give the defendant a fair hearing. Though it was written more than sixty years ago, it goes without saying that Rose’s screenplay is as relevant and thought-provoking as ever — a story that reminds us of what it means to be courageous when faced with injustice and intimidation.
From the opening pages of Rose’s screenplay, here are his brief but incisive descriptions of the men of the jury, who are identified in the film only by their juror numbers.
To read this screenplay and other works by Reginald Rose, as well as scripts by the other writers featured in this film series, visit the Writers Guild Foundation Shavelson-Webb Library.