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29 Twelve Angry Men Trivia Questions & Answers

Twelve Angry Men
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1 Most of the jurors were convinced that the switch knife that was used to kill the murder victim belonged to the defendant. Much was made of its unusual carved handle, and the fact that the defendant had purchased a knife just like it on the day of the murder, but claimed that he lost it before he was picked up by the police. How did Juror #8 cast doubt on the link between the murder weapon and the defendant?
Answer: He produced an identical knife that he had purchased from a pawnshop.

When the foreman carried out a preliminary poll around the room, Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) was the only person to cast a "not guilty" vote. He didn't think that he could "send a boy off to die without talking about it first", and expressed his concern about the largely circumstantial nature of the case against the defendant. When the topic of the knife came up, things started to get a little heated. Most of the jurors didn't believe the defendant's story about losing the knife that he had purchased earlier that day, and the fact that a knife just like it was used to kill the defendant's father seemed conclusive of his guilt. In one of the more dramatic moments in the film, Juror #8 removed an identical switch knife from his jacket pocket and stuck it into the table, demonstrating that the murder weapon wasn't all that unique after all. "It's possible the boy lost his knife and somebody else stabbed his father with a similar knife," argued Juror #8. "I'm just saying a coincidence is possible." The stunt rattled some of the jurors, who were shocked by the similarity of the two knives, but not everyone was convinced. Juror #4 conceded that a coincidence was possible, before adding, "But not very probable."
2 Which one of the following is true about the apartment where the murder was committed?
Answer: It is situated very close to the elevated railway system.

The noise that was created by a carriage passing the apartment window becomes an important feature in the details of the jury's discussion. The juror played by Edward Binns remarks that he has recently painted an apartment close to the elevated railway tracks, and most of the jurors agree that you can hardly hear yourself think when the carriages pass.
3 What was the occupation of juror #8?
Answer: Architect

Juror #8 was played by Henry Fonda. Fonda also produced the film.
4 Juror #9, an elderly man, was the first to change his vote to "not guilty" in support of Juror #8. What was his reason for doing so?
Answer: He felt that Juror #8 deserved to be heard.

After the discussion about the murder weapon fizzled out, no further progress was made so Juror #8 made a proposition to end the deadlock they were in. He suggested calling for another vote, this time by secret written ballot with him abstaining, and promised not to stand in their way if all eleven were in favor of convicting. However, if anyone voted "not guilty", he wanted everyone to stay and "talk it out". When the anonymous votes were tallied, the count was ten to one in favor of conviction, which meant that one juror had changed his vote. This led to a tense moment when Juror #3, a volatile messenger service owner, accused Juror #5 of changing his vote because of his background. Like the defendant, Juror #5 had grown up in a violent slum, and Juror #3 wrongly assumed that he had changed his vote out of some kind of loyalty to a fellow "slum kid". The false accusation prompted Juror #9 to admit that he was the one who had changed his vote. "This gentleman has been standing alone against us," explained Juror #9. "Now he doesn't say that the boy is not guilty, he just isn't sure. Well it's not easy to stand alone against the ridicule of others, so he gambled for support and I gave it to him. I respect his motives. The boy is probably guilty, but... I want to hear more."
5 What physical disability did the old man who lived in the apartment underneath the murder rooms suffer from?
Answer: He had a bad leg and dragged his foot as he walked.

The old man claimed to have got to the door of his apartment in time to see the accused boy running away down the flight of stairs. Juror number 8 calls this into question and simulates walking around the jury room with a limp, whilst Juror number 2 times his journey with his watch.
6 According to testimony during the trial, how long did it take the old man to get out of bed, walk down the hallway, and look out his door to see the defendant running downstairs after the murder?
Answer: 15 seconds

Juror #8 (Fonda) was able to demonstrate that it took longer than 15 seconds for the old man to get out of bed and see the murderer running downstairs...thus creating a reasonable doubt about the old man's testimony.
7 The old man who lived downstairs from the murder victim swore that he heard the defendant yell, "I'm gonna kill you," and then a split-second later the sound of a body hitting the floor. However, Juror #8 convincingly argued that the old man couldn't have identified the defendant's voice, because of the sound of what other event which was taking place simultaneously?
Answer: A passing elevated train

The woman across the street had sworn that she witnessed the murder through the last two cars of a passing el-train when she looked out her window. The old man who lived downstairs was also quite precise about hearing the defendant's voice shouting the threat a split second before he heard the body hitting the floor. Juror #8 juxtaposed these two pieces of evidence together, and reasoned that the old man couldn't possibly have heard very much with the sound of a passing el-train roaring outside his window. "I lived in a second-floor apartment near the el-line once," he said. "When the window is open and the train goes by, the noise is almost unbearable - you can hardly hear yourself think." Juror #8 argued that even if the old man could hear the commotion upstairs over the sound of the train, any identification of the owner of the voice wouldn't be reliable. Juror #3 lost his patience at this point and yelled, "You're talking about a matter of seconds, nobody could be that accurate," which prompted Juror #8 to reply, "Well, I think testimony that could put a boy into the electric chair should be that accurate." The elderly Juror #9 theorized that the old man might have convinced himself that he recognized the defendant's voice out of a desperate need to be important for once in his life. At this point Juror #5, the man who grew up in a bad neighborhood, changed his vote to "not guilty".
8 What sort of knife was used to kill the murdered man?
Answer: A switch-blade knife.

The prosecuting attorney had made much of the fact that the knife used for the murder was one of a kind. Juror Number 8, Henry Fonda, had gone to the same district and bought a similar looking knife from a pawnshop. It was cheap and easily available. At one point Lee J.Cobb's character mistakenly picks it up and says that this is what he did it with. His mistake proves the point that the murder weapon was not so distinctively unique.
9 Juror #7 wanted to finish deliberations quickly because he had tickets to that night's Yankees baseball game. What team were they to play that night?
Answer: Cleveland

Juror #7 was played by Jack Warden. A WWII veteran turned actor.
10 Shortly before changing his vote to "not guilty", Juror #11, an immigrant watchmaker, admitted that he was having problems with one aspect of the defendant's behavior on the night of the murder. What was troubling Juror #11?
Answer: The defendant's decision to return to the scene of the crime.

Juror #11 was troubled by the defendant's act of returning to the apartment where his father had been killed. "Let us assume that the boy really did commit the murder," he said. "He came back home at three o'clock or so, and he was captured by two detectives in the hallway of his house. Now my question is, if he really had killed his father, why would he come back home three hours later? Wouldn't he be afraid of being caught?" Juror #4, a methodical stockbroker, offered a plausible explanation. "The boy knew the knife could be identified as the one that he just bought. He had to get it before the police did." This didn't satisfy Juror #11, who asked why the boy would leave the knife behind in the first place if he knew it could be linked to him. "I think we can assume the boy ran out in a state of panic, after having just killed his father," offered Juror #4. "When he finally calmed down, he realized he left his knife there." "Ah," replied Juror #11, "this then depends on your definition of panic. He would have to be calm enough to see to it that there were no fingerprints left on the knife. Now, when did this panic start and when did it end?" It was clear to Juror #11 that there wasn't a good explanation for the defendant's behavior, unless the boy didn't actually kill his father. At the next show of hands, Juror #11 changed his vote to "not guilty", explaining that he now had a reasonable doubt as to the defendant's guilt.
11 In what way had the knife been stabbed into the body?
Answer: It had been stabbed downwards and into the chest.

The downward wound was unusual, for the accused was a good deal shorter than the man he was supposed to have stabbed. Another juror, played by Jack Klugman, points out that people who fight with switch-blade knives never hold them overhanded and stab downwards when they are fighting. The point of the switchblade is that you can change it rapidly from hand to hand to get an advantage. If the accused had committed the murder you would expect him to have stabbed upwards into the lower chest and stomach.
12 Some of the jurors had a personal prejudice towards the case. What was the personal prejudice of juror #10?
Answer: Racial Prejudice

Juror #10 was played by Ed Begley.
13 The old man who lived downstairs from the murder victim also claimed that he had rushed to his front door when he heard the commotion upstairs, and had gotten a good look at the murderer as he fled out of the apartment building. How did Juror #8 demonstrate that the old man's testimony on this issue was probably unreliable?
Answer: By reenacting the old man's journey from his bedroom to his front door.

The old man claimed that he had taken fifteen seconds to make it to his front door, which was quite a distance away from his bedroom. With a little help from Juror #2, Juror #8 paced out the distance around the cramped jury room, and duplicated the old man's journey to his front door. "I'd like to find out if an old man who drags one foot when he walks 'cause he had a stroke last year can get from his bedroom to his front door in fifteen seconds," he explained. The reenactment took 41 seconds, almost three times longer than the old man's estimation. When Juror #3 tried to question the old man's judgment of the length of time he took to get to his door, Juror #9 reminded him that the old man was very positive about taking only fifteen seconds. "He was an old man," Juror #3 retorted, "Half the time he was confused, how could he be positive about anything?" He realized - too late - after the words had left his mouth that he had just reinforced the point that Juror #8 was making.
14 How did the accused account for the fact that his knife was missing?
Answer: He said he had probably lost it through a hole in his pocket.

The accused's statement is very weak. He had actually shown a knife very like the murder weapon to some of his friends earlier in the day. Henry Fonda, Juror Number 8, had earlier demonstrated that there were likely to be many knives like it in the neighbourhood. However, this "hole in the pocket" story still counts against the accused throughout the discussion. It is the balance of the other evidence that creates the reasonable doubt.
15 Towards the end of the movie, what was brought into reasonable doubt about the old woman's testimony?
Answer: Her eyesight

The old woman had marks on the sides of her nose, indicating most likely she wore glasses. She testified she was in bed and looked out the window exactly when the murder occured. It was argued that she couldn't have possibly put her glasses on that quickly. It cast reasonable doubt about her eyesight.
16 At one point during the deliberations, Juror #3 had to be held back by the other jurors when he lunged at Juror #8 and threatened to kill him. What did Juror #8 say to Juror #3 to provoke him?
Answer: He called him a self-appointed public avenger and a sadist.

Juror #3 was upset that some of the other jurors seemed to be listening to Juror #8. "What's the matter with you guys?" he cried, "You all know he's guilty. He's got to burn. You're letting him slip through our fingers." This made him sound more like an executioner than a juror, so Juror #8 asked him if he would like to "pull the switch", to which Juror #3 replied affirmatively. "I feel sorry for you," said Juror #8. "What it must feel like to want to pull the switch. Ever since you walked into this room, you've been acting like a self-appointed public avenger. You want to see this boy die because you personally want it - not because of the facts. You're a sadist!" This proved to be too much for Juror #3, who lunged at Juror #8 while yelling, "I'll kill him!" Unfortunately for Juror #3, this only undermined a point that he had previously made. Earlier, Juror #8 had argued that the phrase "I'm gonna kill you" was used by people thousands of times every day, so even if the defendant had said it to his father, it didn't necessarily mean that he killed him. Juror #3 disagreed. "The kid yelled it at the top of his lungs. Don't tell me he didn't mean it. Anybody says a thing like that the way he said it, they mean it," he said. With his outburst, Juror #3 had just contradicted himself. "You don't really mean you'll kill me, do you?" said Juror #8, driving home the point. The next vote resulted in the twelve jurors being split down the middle, after Jurors #2 and 6 changed their votes to "not guilty".
17 What motive did some of the jury consider that the accused had for the murder of his father?
Answer: He had been hit too many times and finally snapped.

Again this point about the accused's motive remains in the balance. Some jurors argue that the boy was used to violence and therefore would not respond to being hit one more time. Others suggest that everyone has a breaking point. Two or three jurors point out that the prosecuting attorney did not spend very much time trying to build evidence about the accused's motive.
18 On the night of the murder, an argument occured between the defendant and his father. This argument cast suspicion on the defendant as the murderer of his father. What time did this argument occur?
Answer: 8 o'clock

This was one of the most damning pieces of evidence in the movie, as it established a motive of the defendant.
19 The defendant's alibi was that he was at the movie theatre watching a double feature at the time of the murder. Why did Juror #4 have difficulty believing that this alibi was genuine?
Answer: The defendant couldn't remember the names of the films he saw.

Juror #4, a composed stockbroker, didn't believe the defendant's alibi for one second. "It was obvious to me anyway that the boy's entire story was flimsy," he said. "He claimed that he was at the movies at the time of the killing and yet one hour later he couldn't remember the names of the films he saw or who played in them." Juror #8 suggested that it wasn't surprising that the defendant couldn't remember the details of the films - he was questioned about them by the police while the body of his father lay in the room next door, and was undoubtedly under "great emotional stress" at the time. Upon being questioned by Juror #8, it transpired that Juror #4 had gone to the movies with his wife earlier that week, but he couldn't correctly recall the name of the inexpensive second feature he had seen, or the stars who appeared in it. "And you weren't under emotional stress were you?" asked Juror #8, stating the obvious. Although it wasn't enough to make Juror #4 change his vote at this point, he never brought up the point about the defendant's alibi again.
20 What is the accused's alibi for the crucial time when the murder took place?
Answer: He says he was at a late night double bill at the cinema.

Much is made of the fact that the accused couldn't remember the names of the movies nor the people who starred in them, when he was first questioned by the police. Juror number 8 points out that the questions were put to him in the apartment with his father's body lying dead in the next room. He would be in shock and probably unable to remember any details. He demonstrates this idea by cross questioning the juror played by E.G. Marshall about movies he had seen quite recently. The juror falters over names and identities even though not under any emotional pressure.
21 What was the occupation of juror #3?
Answer: Messenger service owner

Juror #3 was played by Lee J. Cobb who was also famous for his role in "Death of a Salesman" on Broadway.
22 After another two jurors changed their votes to "not guilty", Juror #10, a bigoted garage owner, went off on a racist tirade targeted at the ethnicity of the defendant. How did most of the other jurors react during this outburst?
Answer: They got up and left the jury table.

Juror #10, the garage owner, had already made his bigoted views known early on in the film. "You're not telling me that we're supposed to believe this kid, knowing what he is?" he said. "Listen, I've lived among them all my life. You can't believe a word they say, you know that. I mean they're born liars." When Juror #10 was one of only three jurors left still voting "guilty", he completely lost control. "Look," he pleaded, getting up on his feet. "You know how these people lie. It's born in them." He claimed that "these people" were violent by nature and often intoxicated, and that they didn't value human life the way other people did. Even his concessions about the defendant's ethnic group came out as condescending and mean-spirited. "Oh sure, there are some good things about 'em, too," he said. "Look, I'm the first one to say that. I've known a couple who are okay, but that's the exception, you know what I mean?" He went on in this manner while all the other jurors simply got up from the table one by one and turned their backs on Juror #10, leaving only Jurors #7 and 4 still sitting with him. When he finally stopped, Juror #4 was the first to address Juror #10 by telling him to sit down and not open his mouth again.
23 What does the old man in the apartment underneath the murder apartment claim to have heard at the time of the murder?
Answer: The accused say, "I'm going to kill you", and the body hitting the floor.

Henry Fonda tries to demonstrate that, if all the witnesses are telling the truth, it would be impossible for the old man to have heard anything but the sound of the passing elevated railway. The female eye-witness claims to have seen the murder through the last carriage as it passed the window of the apartment. It had already been roaring past for several seconds thus obliterating all other sound.
24 Of the remaining three jurors who were voting "guilty", Juror #4, the logical stockbroker, was most convinced that the defendant's guilt was established by the testimony of the woman from across the street who witnessed the murder and identified the defendant as the killer. Ironically, it was something that Juror #4 did that led to a revelation about the woman that cast doubt on her testimony. What did Juror #4 do?
Answer: He rubbed the sides of his nose.

At this point in the film, nine of the jurors felt that the defendant was probably innocent, and Juror #8 had asked the other three jurors why were they still so sure that the boy was guilty. Juror #4 tried to answer by explaining that he was relying on the "unshakeable testimony" of the woman who was lying in bed unable to sleep when she saw the defendant killing his father from across the street. The strength of his conviction caused Juror #12, the advertising executive, to change his vote back to "guilty", prompting Juror #3 to declare that they were a hung jury. Juror #4 suggested that they set some kind of time limit on how long they would continue to debate, and removed his glasses to look at the clock at the other end of the room. As he did this, he rubbed the sides of his nose, which reminded Juror #9 of something he saw the woman do in Court. "Your eyeglasses made those two deep impressions on the sides of your nose," said Juror #9. "The woman who testified that she saw the killing had those same marks on the sides of her nose ... She kept rubbing them in Court." A few of the jurors remembered seeing the same thing, including Juror #4. "Strange, but I didn't think about it before," he said. Since those marks on the nose could only have been caused by a pair of eyeglasses, and since no one wore eyeglasses to bed, the woman's ability to positively identify the defendant from across the street was now in doubt. At this point, Juror #4 changed his vote to "not guilty", as did Jurors #10 and 12. They were convinced that there was a reasonable doubt as to the defendant's guilt.
25 What was the female eye-witness doing when she witnessed the murder in the apartment across the street?
Answer: She was lying in bed trying to get to sleep.

It is a key feature of the argument that the female eye-witness was actually "tossing and turning" in her efforts to get to sleep. Under those circumstances it is highly unlikely that she would be wearing eye-glasses. If proved to need them her evidence would thus become unreliable.